North West Cancer Research: Every Cloud Has a Silver Learning

How lockdown has provided an opportunity to change the way training is delivered...
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North West Cancer Research blog case study skills shop

Since 1948, North West Cancer Research (NWCR) has been funding world-class research tailored to the region’s needs.  Being the only independent charity dedicated to tackling cancer across the North West and North Wales, their goal is to put the region’s cancer needs first.

In the last 20 years, they have funded more than £40 million worth of research, addressing cancer inequalities and championing the local research community to pave the way for a cancer-free future.  From life-saving research to leading ground-breaking projects that unveil better and kinder treatments, the charity strives to tackle the cause, improve the care and, importantly, find the cure.

The charity’s main office is based in Liverpool, but with 15 staff and a large geographic area to cover, members of the team are dispersed far and wide in order to maintain a local presence and engagement with service users, volunteers, supporters and businesses.

As part of her Lancashire and Cumbrian regional remit, team member Charlotte [Surname] regularly attends Lancaster Chamber of Commerce networking events.  It was at one of these events in early 2019 when she was introduced to fellow attendee and Skills Shop owner Phil Newton.

“It was a case of ‘right place, right time’,” said Charlotte.  “At the time of the event, we were in the market for emergency first aid training and I’d already heard good things about Phil and his team at Skills Shop.”

After discussions with NWCR’s CEO Alastair Richards, the charity booked a one-day emergency first aid training course with Skills Shop.

“We particularly liked Phil’s approach and flexibility to the training,” said Alastair.  “Instead of an ‘off-the-peg’ course, Phil asked us about our specific needs and requirements.  He then adapted the training to maximise engagement and relevance with the team.”

Happy with the quality and delivery of the training, the charity booked another course with Skills Shop – this time, Mental Health First Aid.  Unfortunately, the scheduling of the training coincided with the Coronavirus lockdown in early 2020, which meant that all face-to-face training had to be postponed until further notice.

This posed a significant challenge to Phil, but thanks to his resilience and the support of his business network and team, Skills Shop was able to develop online versions of several training courses that could be delivered via the company’s website.

With their training back on track, Alastair and his team were able to re-schedule and resume their mental health first aid courses with Skills Shop, albeit remotely via the internet.

“The online courses are delivered in 20 minute modules,” added Alastair.  “This makes it easy to manage and monitor individual progress, with an online assessment at the end to verify that staff have absorbed the necessary information.”

Creating online versions of courses is a real positive that has been born out of the lockdown, enabling Skills Shop to increase its market reach and connect with teams and staff that work remotely.  Available 24/7, online courses also allow delegates to train and learn as and when it is convenient for them, saving their progress each time. 

As measure to ease lockdown come into place, Phil and his team are already working on a range of blended courses by combining web-based learning modules with in-person, face-to-face practical training. 

Alastair summarised:

“As well as developing and maintaining staff skills, one of the key benefits of face-to-face training for NWCR is that it provides an opportunity for the team members to get together and bond.  This is really important in strengthening morale and relationships in a team which is spread all over the North West of England and North Wales.  Phil and his team deliver the training in such a way that it supports our team building ethos. The blended approach is very appealing to us, as it combines the best of worlds; the convenience of online learning with the face-to-face training that allows our staff to reconnect and develop together.”

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