Thursday 12th April 2018 was a landmark date in the progression of Evolve as six Health Mentors became the first to graduate from a bespoke training course designed to develop the skills of new employees. Leah Goode, Nikita Bokang, Tarik Ross-Cameron, Mollie Griffiths, Gyles Bediako and SJ Miah received their recognition after passing the Level 4 short course in Health Mentoring, a programme developed in association with Newman University.
Who are Evolve?
Graham Morgan, Evolve Chairman, explains: “Evolve is a small award-winning social enterprise with a big idea of how it can help transform a generation of children struggling to deal with growing health and education challenges in the 21st Century. Evolve devised and deliver Project HERO (Health Engagement Real Outcomes) into schools around the country to support children through a focus on their physical health, emotional wellbeing and cognitive development.
Evolve carefully recruit and specially train inspiring young people to become Evolve Health Mentors – active, enthusiastic and positive role models who are then deployed into schools by forward thinking headteachers. The work of Evolve was recently recognised by the Royal Society of Public Health who now partner Evolve in its work.”
How was the programme created?
Graham added: “As a social enterprise, rather than a company motivated primarily by profit, Evolve is driven to prove evidence of its impact on the lives of children. To this end, Evolve are very committed to the levels of training it provides for Health Mentors. For some time the company were not happy with the quality and relevance of available training qualifications at Levels 2 and 3. This led to Evolve Director, John Bishop, working with Dr Simon Bicknell of Newman University, to create an innovative Level 4 short course in Health Mentoring.
This has resulted in every new Health Mentor participating in the Level 4 course and existing Health Mentors also converting to the new course. A further benefit of the course has been the support given Newman University to Evolve Regional Managers Kat Watkin and Amie Richards in delivering the course programme.”
What benefits have the course leaders seen?
Kat Watkin explained: “The Health Mentor short course has numerous benefits for Health Mentors. Most frequently quoted by the staff is the opportunity for them to come together and share best practice through the classroom and practical sessions. The short course is fit for the purpose and the assessment tasks are not only relevant to the role of the Health Mentor, they also support the Health Mentor’s holistic development as an individual, by encouraging them to be critically reflective and looking at ways they can improve in all aspects of their life.”
Did Health Mentors find the course valuable?
Leah Goode was one of the first Health Mentors to graduate from the course. She stated: “The Level 4 short course has helped me put into perspective the diverse role that I carry out in my schools and has allowed me to reflect back on all the work I have carried out so far over the past year and made it relevant to my current assignments I have written.
Whilst completing the Level 4 course I have worked in a range of schools in Birmingham, Willenhall, Wolverhampton and now based in Tipton. The course has helped me develop more as a Health Mentor through carrying out various roles and learning to be flexible and try new things. Whilst I have been in my schools, roles have ranged from one-to-one support in class, mentoring, P.E CPD for teachers, nurture groups, after school clubs, lunchtime animation, teaching phonics and classroom support.
Completing a course alongside my current job role supported me in something that I never really did beforehand which was reflecting and I feel now more than ever it is important that we do that as Health Mentors because there are so many things that can happen in a day. If we take that time to reflect I feel it can impact us in a positive way to support us with our delivery in schools. Being part of such an important course for Evolve, which makes us more qualified to deliver what we do, I have really enjoyed being part of the first cohort to graduate. It is really positive for Evolve to have delivered the course and provide support that has helped me to complete my assignments to the best possible standard.
I have now progressed onto the Masters course which is encouraging me to reflect at a higher level. It is challenging but I would encourage more Health Mentors, once they have completed their Level 4 course, to progress onto their Masters.
I have recently been able to spend some time with the new cohort and was able to pass on previous experience and advice to them about their assignments. We had some good discussions about work being carried out in schools and for senior Health Mentors to pass on previous experience to new staff is key and can support with development in our roles.“
Is the course just for new members of staff?
Any member of Evolve staff can enrol on the course and experienced Health Mentor, Jeevan Chagger, is already reaping the benefits as part of the second cohort. Jeevan explained: “The Level 4 short course with Newman is allowing me to share my practices with others whilst also further developing my theoretical knowledge on why we deliver specific practices. I am able to discuss how I approach different situations as well as gaining an insight into how others approach scenarios.
It makes me a better listener, being more active and reflective with my listening whilst allowing me to challenge myself to think differently. It is a good experience to work closely with Health Mentors who are fairly new in the role, offering them guidance and essentially being a mentor for them. It is a course that is not only developing me professionally as a Health Mentor but also developing my Evolve culture with staff.”
What are new recruits hoping to achieve?
Marc Hipwell is a new Health Mentor in East Midlands and he is already reaping the benefits after joining the course this year. “Whether it is teaching PE to thirty children or one to one mentoring, the Level 4 Health Mentor short course allows me to draw on the experience of the Evolve team as well as furthering my development with fun and engaging lectures. I would love to use this course as a stepping stone to continue studying at the Newman University by doing my Masters Degree in the future.”
What is the next progression?
Graham Morgan is now leading another band of troops towards more history within the company. “The Level 4 course has proved to be a great success in upgrading the training and has subsequently led to a Master’s Degree course in Health Mentoring, via Work Based Learning, being created by Dr Bicknell. This is a major breakthrough for Evolve who are working to get Health Mentoring recognised as a new Profession. Four Evolve Health Mentors, along with myself, are in the first year of the Master’s degree course. Leah Goode and Mollie Griffiths, from the first Level 4 cohort have progressed to participating at Master’s Degree level.
Newman University have been great partners in supporting the work of Evolve. Their history is one of helping disadvantaged students to achieve educationally and marries well with the Evolve mission to work primarily with vulnerable children. The presentation of these certificates represents an important landmark on our journey. Evolve are particularly thankful for the support of Dr Simon Bicknell in the development of both the Level 4 course and the Master’s Degree and look forward to even more courses being created in the future.”
To find out how you can join the inspirational Evolve team, visit the Careers section of our website.