Guest Blog: Vanessa Ashton, WaterAid

Guest Blog

Vanessa Ashton, Water Industry Partnerships Manager South West & Wales

WaterAid

The Business4Life (B4L) programme managed by Wessex Water is a means to increase awareness and provide much needed financial support for the WaterAid cause.

The scheme has also proved to be a unique opportunity for Wessex Water and other businesses to work together to benefit communities in developing countries as well as young people. The programme is a proven opportunity for young professionals to learn, develop and utilise skills and talents to the benefits of themselves, their employers and those in need of water and sanitation in the developing world.

Since 2003 TYF have played a crucial role in the formation of strong B4L teams which, in turn, have raised substantial funds for WaterAid (collectively, over £300,000 for the charity’s important work supporting the poorest communities in the World). This is in addition to participants developing hugely as individuals as well as emerging as high performing teams.

The first year we put a group of staff together from both Wessex Water and from some of the company’s contractor partners to form B4L, we didn’t really know what we were dealing with. We thought we would provide some management training sessions and support the group of 12, over a year, while they put their newly acquired skills in to practice by forming a virtual business to raise funds for WaterAid. After the first month or so we realised that this group was still just a group of individuals. By no means could you call them a team! Hence the call to TYF for help.

Ever since that first year we now schedule in, right at the start of the programme, a team building, long week-end in St.Davids. TYF work with the B4L organisers to create a bespoke series of challenges, exercises and classroom exploration which enables each B4L group to:

  • Get to know each other well and learn to trust each other
  • Be willing to open up and recognise individual as well as team strengths and weaknesses
  • Discover the importance of clear and appropriate communication
  • Break down pre-conceived barriers, change their view, think creatively and ‘outside of the box’
  • Allow themselves to take risks and stretch themselves outside of their normal comfort zone
  • Form themselves into a structured team with agreed roles and responsibilities
  • Come up with creative ideas for fundraising and a plan for their next steps to achieve their goal

B4L has been hugely successful since we started and I just thank God that we involve TYF right at the beginning of each programme now. The team building week-end fast tracks the formation of strong teams and saves loads of time and potential conflict in forthcoming months of working together.

Each activity, though great fun as well as challenging, provides insight to improve the team’s performance.

Thank-you, so much, TYF and all your fantastic staff, for masses of fun, insight, learning and a whole new way of looking at each other as well as appreciating the planet and all who reside in it.

 

~ Vanessa

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