Norfolk Industries for Disabled People

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Blog » EVOLVE work programme operating throughout Lockdown

EVOLVE work programme operating throughout Lockdown

The beginning of this year has certainly been strange for all of us, we at Norfolk Industries, have been able to remain open as we provide animal bedding which is seen as an essential service.

In order to ensure that safety procedures are followed, all members of staff and volunteers that attend Norfolk Industries have had a full risk assessment, with control procedures put in place, to ensure that all staff and volunteers remain safe at work.  All staff are reminded of the current lockdown rules through a daily checklist upon arrival and that they should only currently leave home for essential reasons. This enables us to reduce the risks involved with staff coming in and out as well as moving around the business.

January marks the start of a journey for a new EVOLVE candidate, working with our Assessment Support Officer, who also joined us at the beginning of November.  EVOLVE includes Accredited Learning Programmes, which are generally aimed at below qualification level, allowing candidates to develop skills for working. Learning occurs by identifying and working with the candidates strengths and is designed to avoid desk-based learning, and instead utilising work based activities. There are three different Accredited Modules within the EVOLVE programme that are currently offered at Norfolk Industries;

  1. Employability; this course is based around subjects such as effective communication in the workplace, teamwork, problem solving and ensuring that you are safe at work.
  2. Project planning; this course is based around subjects such as budget planning, risk assessments, making suitable decisions and how to effectively gather information.
  3. Life Skills; this course is based around subjects such as household skills, cleaning, developing confidence and effective communication.

Candidates are supported in selecting the modules that allow them to achieve the outcomes that they would like to, by the end of their course. EVOLVE has been working well, generating some great outcomes and has provided our candidates with the skills that they require for employment. Some feedback from our Assessment Support Officer;

‘Working with the candidates on the EVOLVE programme has been exciting and has allowed me to increase my skills, coming from a teaching background I felt as though I had the basic skills for teaching, however teaching in a work environment has been very different. I have really enjoyed spending time, on a one to one basis, with our candidates. Seeing them excel in a working environment fills me with pride as well as being part of their learning experience. Observing them complete the different tasks and develop their skills is fantastic. I have certainly learnt new skills within the factory environment to allow me to pass these onto our candidates. The EVOLVE programme equips our candidates for working and provides them with different tasks from the work environment. It also gives them an opportunity to be supported, independently, which I believe aids their success. The programme is developing, and we have the potential to see the growth of different courses to suit the candidates that we have signing up to the course. Throughout my role I also support with Quality Assurance across the Gateway Assured programmes, throughout Norfolk Industries parent company, Independence Matters. Since starting in November, I have been thoroughly enjoying my position and I cannot wait to see how this progresses further as I gain more knowledge on the business and enrol more candidates on these programmes. Not only have I seen candidates through the EVOLVE programme I have seen what a fantastic place Norfolk Industries is, offering employment to people who want to work, that may struggle without support in the workplace. They are a supportive workforce who are non-judgemental. Teaching people new skills and giving them the opportunity to develop their own skills in their own time, without putting pressure on them. Norfolk Industries is known to be a low stress environment, and this is something that I have seen hands on, there is no pressure put on the volunteers. They are organised to their strengths and the times that they work, and this works well for production levels’.

It is hopeful that our two current candidates will complete the course successfully and then go onto either continue volunteering or move onto paid employment and the skills that they have been equipped with will allow them to do this successfully. If you would like further details with regards to the Gateway Assured programme please do not hesitate to contact us on