South Hampstead and Kilburn Partnership (SHAK) supplies adult education services to local residents in the Kilburn ward. Its mission is to increase local community confidence and support community members in reaching their full potential.
SHAK have a longstanding relationship with VAC, in particular the use of our Employment and HR advice service. Jane Lee (then Director) of SHAK tells us a little bit about why she found this to be a helpful service.
SHAK was sent up twelve years ago with an assured funding from Priority Action Camden Estates. We supply adult education from two locations on this estate and a resource centre for young people also based on this estate. Most of our service users live in the Kilburn ward and most of them live in social housing. Shell is the other side of what we do, that’s the adult education centre. So it’s youth support and adult education, that’s our work.
Q. When did you start working with VAC?
I would say in the last five years. We’ve always known they were there but we’ve tended to be spinning round in circles to make sure we keep things going. So in the last 5 years we’ve got quite a lot of support from them because the more staff you have the more problems you have – and this where VAC has been great.
Q. What services have you received?
The most helpful support we’ve got has been from their HR department. They are always on the other end of the phone and always come back to us. They have the capacity to simplify issues that seem overwhelmingly complex and talk us through finding a solution to it – and we wouldn’t be able to get that support from anywhere else.
There have been staffing issues – some quite serious things. VAC were very supportive and informative. They sent through to us quite a lot of information and guidelines and talked us through how we should proceed with it.
Q. You also participated in the Target HR project and training?
A. We’ve had staff who have done training there and the feedback I get is that their training is very good. Our finance officer went on a bookkeeping course and found that very useful. And another senior officer here went on an HR course. And I went on a course to do with the changes in the law to with Criminal Record Bureau. It’s very complex but there are some very clear cut laws as far as CRB as concerned. All of those courses have been very good.
There was one meeting we had with VAC about how to go about handling reducing staff hours. This is a complex process. Their HR advisor came to see us and we had a lengthy meeting. They talked us through how to get it absolutely right, otherwise we end up in trouble.
Q. What difference has the support you’ve received made to your organisation?
It’s made sure we’ve followed exactly the right procedure and followed all the correct laws regarding staffing and it’s made sure we haven’t ended up in trouble, which could easily happen. The laws are very complex and long-winded and VAC have the capacity to simplify it all and talk us around all the loopholes.
It means that our staff has been OK and if the staff are OK then the project runs really well – and that’s extremely important. I don’t have an HR worker in-house, we’re a charity here and it is very difficult to be expert in everything. So we learn as we go along and VAC has been a huge asset. I don’t think we could have gone on so long without problems if VAC hadn’t stepped in when we’ve asked them to.
To find out more about the work of SHAK please visit their website at: www.shakonline.co.uk. On our website you can find out more about how we can support you with Employment and HR as well as any upcoming Employment and HR training sessions.