Lessons learned….so far!

There have been lots of lessons learned so far but these are the biggies.Lessons (1)

Put time aside for your project

I have blocked out a day a week to concentrate on my Cook2Learn project, my mentor, Andy, insisted that I do this and it has worked really well. It means I don’t get sidetracked by my project on other days and vice versa with my other work. I try to make all of my project meetings on these days and because it is in my Outlook calendar, I find that my colleagues are really good about not booking in other meetings for me to attend. Of course there are occasional blips but generally, doing this has made me feel much more on top of things and kept me and the project on track.

It’s a Health and Safety Nightmare!

Well, I guess it was always going to be difficult! I had consulted with the Food Safety team prior to my application and while there was lots to consider, it all seemed feasible. However, I hadn’t expected the reaction I got from the Health and Safety team when I went to them to seek advice at the start of my project. It’s always good to remember that councils are very risk averse! For a week or so it seemed we were at gridlock and at the end of the day the Health and Safety team are able to shut down a project, funded or not. To work with them and allay their fears, I had to address every single concern they had raised – the numbers were high! After a lot of research I put together a long and detailed 10 page risk assessment and with the help of our Libraries Operations Manager, we  refined it to make sure every eventuality was covered. The Health and Safety team and I are now in a much better place!

We have had to make adjustments and there are some sites where it will only be possible to do cold food preparation but this was always likely and doesn’t impact greatly on the ability to run the project successfully. There will also need to be some additional safety equipment purchases but it’s good to know all of this before any of the budget has been spent. The process of having to do the risk assessment at the very early stages, has enabled me to be much clearer about the project needs and decision making, as the project development stages have progressed.

Get all of the team involved in project development

To deliver Cook2Learn I am working with Public Health, Health Trainers and Community Learning, for the most part major project decisions have been made in consultation with team managers. We all felt that it was really important for the teams who would be delivering the workshops and courses to be able to take some ownership of the project and be involved in the project development rather than just delivery. To help with this we held a really productive half-day development workshop with seven health trainers, two library staff, two community learning staff and team leaders. The health trainers and community learning team have experience of delivering cookery sessions and with their expertise and valuable input, the workshop enabled us to define session themes, identify equipment needs, draft session plans, content and activities and highlight areas we need to consider.

Since the development workshop the health trainers have gone on to identify a choice of recipes for each workshop theme and decided on some of the icebreakers and themed activities they will deliver.

I have also recently recruited eight volunteers to help deliver sessions. As well as attending planned training they will have a vital role in the development of the workshops by taking part in November’s pilot sessions and helping evaluate and refine sessions before the project launch in January.

All of the teams are really positive about the project and are looking forward to getting going with it, this has created a great buzz and lots of interest from other areas.