Grassroots charity promoting the right for people with learning disabilities to have a choice about how they live their lives

Recruiting staff and involving people with learning disabilities at Stay Up Late

16
Mar
2017

In this post we’re introducing our new Gig Buddies Project Assistant, Harri, and look at our approach to recruiting staff at Stay Up Late.

At Stay Up Late we always want to try and involve our participants as much as possible in the recruitment of our staff team as we can’t do a good job with the wrong people working for us. Participants are the best placed to tell us the ideal kind of people they’d like, and as a staff team we also have an idea about the skills and type of person we need on the team. So it’s a co-produced process which is something we're passionate about.

In this post we’re explaining the process a bit more and at the end you’ll get to meet Harri.

Storm and Thunder Team’s person specification

The first step was to work with our Storm and Thunder Team to talk about what the role of Project Assistant would involve and ask them to come up with their ideal person (their Person Specification) – here’s some of the things they said:

  • Have supported people with learning disabilities
  • Friendly and helpful
  • Have an upbeat personality
  • Good at speaking at events
  • Likes music
  • Respects all aspects of disabilities
  • Good at problem solving
  • Good at making participants' ideas happen
  • Good at using computers
  • Good at organising and making sure people are in the right place at the right time
  • Good at communication, and being clear about details of events
  • Able to create good roles for participants to volunteer in the office in a meaningful way
  • Able to deal with an element of chaos!
  • Good at warm-up exercises like dancing
  • Good on the phone
  • Have a good sense of humour
  • Have a 'Let's Do It, Let's Do It' attitude
  • Able to deal with soft toy animals flying round the office

Recruiting staff

This gave us a pretty good idea of the sort of person who would be important to our participants.

Recruiting staff - The application process

Previously we’ve shortlisted applications as a staff team, with the help of trustees, but this time we wanted to try something different and find a more inclusive way to involve our participants in this process.

We decided one way to do this would be to ask all applicants to make a 60 second video telling us why they’d be great at the job. The results were fascinating. Some candidates went to town. One candidate performed a song (with a his family and dog on backing vocals), one spoke in rhyme, others used some editing skills to create a story about themselves and others just spoke to camera. We weren’t looking for great film making skills though – we wanted to see how they put themselves across in 60 seconds, and by the end of the day of shortlisting we felt like we’d started to get to know everyone just a little bit.

We also asked for an application form too so they could evidence the areas the staff team, and the Storm and Thunder Team, were looking for in the Person Specifications.

The interview day

We’d decided not to ask for presentations this time. We felt we had a good idea of where we want to take the Gig Buddies project at the moment and didn’t want to create even more work for ourselves by hearing loads of new tantalising ideas to embark on. Instead we worked with the Storm and Thunder Team to come up with some questions, and also asked all the shortlisted candidates to come with their catch-phrase – a few words that sum them up as a person, or their attitude to life.

David, one of our participants sat on the interview panel and had an equal say on the final decision (all the questions were scored to keep things fair).

Hello Harri

The successful candidate was Harri – and you can read her short biog here. But to get to know her a little bit more we thought it would be fun to make a short film over a game of ping pong with one of our participants, Harry.

Recruiting staff

The rules of the game were simple, whoever wins the point gets to ask the next question. We have to confess that we weren’t exactly fair with Harri though because Harry is a brilliant ping pong player, and you’ll see his moves in the video.

So here’s the movie – When Harry met Harri

(thank you to Brighton Table Tennis Club for letting us film in their building)

Welcome to the team Harri.

Recruitment training

As a team we’ve got years of experience of designing recruitment processes that enable people with learning disabilities to be fully involved in selecting staff, whether that’s for management roles or as support workers. If you’d like to talk to us about arranging a training day with us do get in touch. Check out what we offer here.

Paul