Interview with Nicola Caldwell (WG13)

Photo of WG13

First off, tell me about yourself? And the rest of the core team at WG13?
My name is Nicola Caldwell, I am employed by the CVO East Ayrshire as Senior Job Coach with in their Social Enterprise café WG13. CVO East Ayrshire developed the WG13 project as an avenue into employment for those with additional barriers, creating a café/restaurant and venue space where we could offer commercial work experience, volunteering and employment opportunities in a supportive environment.  We also developed a bespoke course in partnership with Ayrshire College which offered the certificate of work readiness and includes customer service modules. We have employed job coaches to work alongside our trainees and use systematic instruction techniques to break down complex tasks into manageable learning, and to build confidence and offer support with external issues affecting their lives.

The community digital hub which is positioned in WG13s top floor

  • Telehealth care services, including video conferencing and health pod.
  • A virtual home environment allowing the trial of a range of aids and adaptations.
  • Connect Call, a free confidential phone service offering friendship and advice to people in East Ayrshire who may live alone and are experiencing isolation. This service is delivered by volunteers.
  • A peer support area where you can learn to use technology in a relaxed environment. This service is also supported by volunteers from the CVO Seniors Hub.

What exactly is it your organisation does? And what services do you offer?
CVO East Ayrshire is part of the Third Sector Interface in East Ayrshire, supporting the growth of a strong and diverse third sector. As part of that activity we have a commitment to supporting those most in need, and to developing social enterprise.

  • WG13 project as an avenue into employment for those with additional barriers, creating a café/restaurant and venue space where we could offer commercial work experience, volunteering and employment opportunities in a supportive environment.
  • GRAFT, a home maintenance service providing services to vulnerable people in the community, and giving routes into training and volunteering for adults who have had involvement with addiction and community justice services;
  • Feet First, a personal foot care service and co-produced model developed with support from NHS Ayrshire and Arran, delivered on a social enterprise basis.  The service has been shortlisted for awards and the model is being rolled out across Scotland.
  • Ayrshire East Foodbank, co-ordinating approx. 100 volunteers at locations across East Ayrshire to provide emergency food to people in crisis.  We work with Community Justice Teams who transport the food from the central point to the local distribution centres.
  • Community Connectors Service: operates across every GP practice in East Ayrshire and is designed to strengthen links between Primary Care and Community Assets. The core aims of the service are to provide support to GP practice teams to enable patients to utilise a range of statutory and third sector services which empower and support people to challenge underlying social or economic issues impacting on their health and wellbeing.

How long has WG13 been around? And what are your plans for the future as an organisation?

Over the course of the past three years we have developed and refined a bespoke training course which has had a positive impact on the lives of our trainees and has raised awareness of the contribution young people can make when they receive appropriate levels of support and training.

The continued success and impact of the project can be evidenced by the 95% completion rate and the positive destinations achieved by the trainees. Further evidence can be seen in the ongoing development of a partnership approach to service delivery and support available to the trainees both during and after completion of the course. This year we will create more training, volunteering and employment opportunities than before.

How can people get involved with WG13?
Our café and events space, which is open to the public and acts like any other business, as a social enterprise trades for purpose. Many community food initiatives, like community and aim to be at least partly self-sufficient. In addition to the relationship with Ayrshire College staff our Job Coaches have been working hard to raise awareness of the project and receive referrals from a number of key partners and wider stakeholders, our self-referrals are increasing due to our trainees moving onto positive destinations.

What challenges have you faced as an organisation and how have you dealt with them?
Our WG13 trainees travel from all areas of the local authority, this in itself proves challenging especially for trainees who are not confident about using public transport. Job Coaches work with trainees, their families and other partner agencies to overcome these challenges.

What has been your proudest moment and/or biggest accomplishment so far?
It is very encouraging to have our work recognised at both a local and national level particularly as industry award winners; Best Bar None Gold Award (Local) Best Bar None Best Specialist Entertainment Venue (National) and Scottish National Champion. As part of the national award we were asked to submit video footage and case studies. In addition to this we were finalists in the British Institute for Innkeeping Best Training Operator. Our trainees attended the award ceremony and for the majority of them this was the first time they had been to an event such as this. Their sense of achievement and pride was clear for all to see. During the preparation of the submission for assessment the trainees were involved in the training sessions and contributed to the overall content of the application. The local Community Police Officer who delivers on the Best Bar None Training has offered to come back and deliver more training with any new trainees or staff or as and when issues arise.

Can people donate to WG13, and if so how?
You can donate to any of our projects by contacting the organisation directly on 01563 574000, by eating or booking your event at WG13, not only are you enjoying amazing food, but you’re doing an amazing thing by supporting our trainees on their journey. It makes a huge difference your custom will make to their lives. Thank you for your continued support.

Lastly do you have social media/a website and if so provide links?


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