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Finding new ways to deliver charitable services – our partnership with The Prince’s Trust in a pandemic-driven virtual world

Sally Caughey
4 Mar 2021

Transferring our skills to help The Prince’s Trust connect and collaborate virtually during the pandemic

The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused huge disruption, particularly for the already stretched charitable sector, creating unforeseen challenges, particularly increasing demands for services at a time when funding has been hugely reduced and social distancing measures have made normal services almost impossible.

However, in responding to the pandemic, many organisations, such as our charity partner The Prince’s Trust, have found new ways to deliver their support.

The Prince’s Trust supports young people from the ages of 11 to 30.  As highlighted in their recent Youth Index Report 2021, the impact of the pandemic on education, employment and wellbeing (both emotional and physical, meant that it was even more essential that The Trust could continue to deliver. With a partnership that spans well over ten years, we were determined that we could bring our expertise in transformation, virtual collaboration, mentoring and the energy of our people to help The Trust in its vital work.

Our UK Managing Director, Paul Margetts said: “As we know, the increased demand for help from charities and not-for-profit organisations happened just as the sector lost a significant proportion of its revenue – and its ability to deliver vital face-to-face services through the impact of lockdowns and social distancing. The Prince’s Trust was no exception to this, so I am delighted that we were able to tap into the innovative spirit and expertise of our people to at this critical moment.”

Collaborating to accelerate transformation

At a time when young people needed more help, organisations like The Prince’s Trust knew they needed to make more services available online.  The charity reached out to supporters across the technology sector to help it deliver and accelerate its already planned digital transformation and Capgemini volunteers worked alongside many other technology organisations.

Our focus was to build the foundations for a digital onboarding pathway, enabling young people to engage with The Trust remotely and be directed to new online learning and or support opportunities.

One of the issues that had to be addressed was that the incumbent model for onboarding young people saw only a fraction of the 13,000 young people needing support every month progressing onto a learning programme. Many of them had to wait several weeks before being offered a suitable programme or activity

The Trust’s ambition was to create a first-class digital onboarding experience for young people, enabling them to access support remotely via desktop or mobile devices. This service would allow young people to choose how and when they engage, to receive timely and appropriate support and enable the development of confidence boosting skills in line with personal goals.

A team from Capgemini along with a number of organisations that support The Trust, mobilised to create a set of new journeys to support the digital onboarding of young people. Steven Webb, VP at Capgemini commented “It was great to see individuals from different organisations coming together to support The Trust in this way and delivering such a great outcome, in challenging timeframes”.

The project was implemented through an initial pilot phase when The Trust reached over a quarter of a million young people.

By understanding the young people’s needs, we were able to add direction and assist in the development of a platform that has improved outcomes. It is guiding and empowering young people to find the right information and make choices that meet their needs.

Transferring our skills to help The Prince’s Trust connect and collaborate virtually

Like many organisations, The Trust’s staff needed to quickly build confidence in virtual collaboration – with each other and of course with the young people seeking support.  As an organisation adept in virtual delivery, we mobilised our people to work on creating a new knowledge sharing environment, passing on our own experience of virtual collaboration.

Nine Capgemini volunteers supported 28 of The Trust’s staff members in three separate knowledge sharing sessions focussed on getting the most out of Microsoft Teams. Having also adopted Teams as their collaborative tool of choice, The Trust was keen to learn from our experiences of it, both as a workflow tool and to ensure effective virtual meetings and workshops.

These highly engaging sessions compiled and chaired by Head of Digital Engineering, Andrew Copland, shared our experiences, invited discussion and included some practical examples. They were so successful that The Trust has now re-run them internally using this material and has requested a revised version for Capgemini volunteers to deliver directly to a young person audience.

Coaching young people in how to access funds to keep their businesses afloat

In September, The Trust hit the milestone of £2million in grants given to young businesses in need of support during the COVID-19 pandemic through The Prince’s Trust NatWest Enterprise Relief Fund.

Five Capgemini volunteers worked closely with 11 young people, mentoring and supporting them directly to enable them to navigate the grant application process for their businesses.

The feedback from young people demonstrated how valuable the support was during this time …“I really appreciate the time he spent with me going over my application, he took a real genuine interest in what I do, was super supportive and is an all-round lovely man”.

Two of our committed volunteers have since signed up as business mentors for ongoing support in the Central Region.

Stronger than ever – the changing face of our well-established partnership

Our partnership with The Trust has developed and grown over 2020.  We needed to help in different ways, evolving from a project by project approach to a collaborative problem-solving partnership applying consulting support as needed, and holding regular problem-solving conversations.

This brought rewards in several ways, both for our own people and for The Trust. For example, the regular calls allowed us to spot areas of need and opportunities that we would have previously not seen. In one instance, we helped The Trust save 50% on the cost of a new software product by using our experience of working with the supplier to suggest a different purchasing approach.

We were also able to channel employees keen to help in new and impactful ways, opening opportunities for fundraising, which bought much needed engagement to our teams, or to become mentors to young businesses.

The experience of COVID has bought our organisations closer together, sharing problems and working collaboratively to address them.

As we plan our partnership goals for 2021, we look forward to continuing our collaboration and look forward to the launch of our new digital skills pilot – Level Up. Together we will support young people to understand digital fundamentals and be inspired to consider how these might help them in their future career choices.