ASA Newsletter – August 2018

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Welcome to the August edition of the Advice Skills Academy newsletter.  This month there’s information on opportunities for you to become a Digital Champion, and information on our exciting new Advice Skills Academy Mentoring Programme.

As well as a Learning Story from The Women’s Organisation, we’ve got bitesize learning on Suicide Awareness, including a link to free online training; 25 great Google Chrome Tips and Tricks, and an article on Reflective Practice.

On 12 August it’s International Youth Day and on 19 August it’s World Humanitarian Day.

Join our new Digital Champions Network and receive free training and awards

If you are already helping people with digital skills or you want to start helping others improve their digital skills, then the Digital Champion training is for you.

We’ve teamed up with leading digital skills provider, Digital Unite, to offer you access to a whole host of free online training and a huge range of resources as part of their Digital Champions Network.

From helping people to apply for jobs online to overcoming accessibility barriers, the training and tools will develop your own digital knowledge and give you the confidence to share that knowledge. The courses can be studied at your own pace and all are linked to downloadable certificates and the national Open Badges schemes (the new approach to professional verification). You can add the badges to your CV or LinkedIn page to show off what you’ve achieved.

Essential digital skills

Today’s world is a digital world and those without the skills to participate in it are disadvantaged. Digital literacy boosts employability, can reduce social isolation, can help people to save money and gives them choice and empowerment.

Research shows that the average household can save around £744 by buying products and services online and 81% of employers regard digital skills an important requirement when recruiting.

Despite this it is estimated around 1 in 5 UK adults (21%) don’t have all of the basic digital skills they need to participate in everyday life.

Why Digital Champions?

Digital skills aren’t a thing you can learn once, like riding a bike; most beginners need ongoing support from a friendly local person in order to feel confident.

Advice Skills Academy has arranged for up to 50 people to have access to the Digital Champions training, so that they can help and support other staff and volunteers to develop their confidence and digital skills.

Digital Champions don’t need to be IT whizzes, just have some basic digital skills, a passion for being online and a willingness to help others.

If you’re interested in being a Digital Champion then contact your ASA Link person:

Citizens Advice Halton – Jo Jones

Citizens Advice Liverpool – Pat Breslin (North and East); Jackie Wotton (South)

Citizens Advice Knowsley – Chris McGugan

Citizens Advice Sefton – Linda Jones

Citizens Advice St Helens – Lisa Bluck

Citizens Advice Wirral – Jenny Price

Raise – Linda Daley and Theresa Larkins

The Women’s Organisation – Laura Anderson

Advice Skills Academy Mentoring Programme

Advice Skills Academy is starting a Mentoring Programme, to support and encourage people to share knowledge and experience. Mentoring can take place informally, and there is some really good informal mentoring happening already in partner organisations.

Through Advice Skills Academy there will be opportunities to do training in mentoring, and opportunities to be a mentor to people from different partner organisations. ASA will help to ‘match’ people looking for support (the mentee) with those with more experience (the mentor), based on information that people provide to us through an application form.

“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.”

Steven Spielberg

There are benefits of mentoring for both the mentor as well as the mentee:


  • Opportunity to reflect on own practice
  • Can increase job satisfaction
  • Uses and recognises your experience
  • Personal satisfaction through supporting others


  • Learning from more experienced people
  • Develops supportive relationships
  • Improves self-confidence
  • Can help with problem solving
  • Encourages reflection on practice

To get involved in the ASA mentoring programme you’ll need to apply to be a mentor or apply to be a mentee:

Applying to be a mentor

Before volunteering as a mentor, you would need to commit to:

  • One day’s mentor training on 10th September 2018
  • Further self-development of mentoring skills as required
  • At least two hours a month/six weeks for 3 – 6 months to meet with your mentee (this will include preparation and post session reflection, an average mentoring session would be between 60 and 90 minutes)
  • Completing the reflective learning log and contributing to the pilot review process

Applying to be a mentee

Before requesting a mentor, you would need to commit to:

  • At least two hours a month/six weeks for 3 – 6 months to meet with your mentor (this will include preparation and post session reflection, an average mentoring session would be between 60 and 90 minutes)
  • Completing the reflective learning log and contributing to the pilot review process

If you are interested in working with a mentor, please complete the mentee application form, arrange for it to be approved and signed by your line manager and send it to by the end of Monday 3rd September 2018.

Advice Skills Academy mentoring programme document download links:

ASA Mentoring Programme Guide
Mentor Application Form
Mentee Application Form
Mentor Reflective Learning Log
Mentee Reflective Learning Log

Learning Story

Maggie O’Carroll
CEO The Women’s Organisation

Maggie O'Carroll

Organisationally we’ve spent a lot of time exploring the Business Model Canvas as a tool for planning and communication recently. We are keen to offer the highest level of service we can to our clients, and so as new ideas surface that can support them in the design and development of their businesses, we want to jump on that and see how effective it can be.

The original version of the canvas was produced by Strategyzer whose template and online tutorial videos are particularly useful.  We also invited Amanda Brooks, Enterprise Education Development Manager at Lancaster University – leading experts in Business Model Canvas – to lead a session with myself and our wider team to explore how we can use it as an organisation.  Having worked in enterprise support for more than 20 years, the business plan has been something I’ve watched clients wrestle with, so looking at this tool as an alternative way to dig into the detail is interesting for me.

We held a Business Model Canvas session during Learning at Work Week, and this was particularly useful for me in a few ways.  I was able to see how some of the team are using this in practice with clients, and through using the canvas to explore The Women’s Organisation I was able to more effectively communicate our organisation’s priorities to the team, and understand their perception of what we do.

Since we’ve undertaken this learning, myself and the management team have encouraged Business Advisers to implement this as a way to support clients who find the traditional business plan a barrier to business development.  I’ve also been reflecting on the model as I’m developing plans for our next phase of business support programmes and looking at how our service needs to evolve to suit client need.

Learn Something Today

This Month’s Latest Bitesize Learning

The Zero Suicide Alliance has free online training available in suicide prevention. Through the training, you can learn about what to look for, what to say, and how to support people who may be considering suicide. The online training takes about 20 minutes to complete, and has scenarios on ‘how to have a conversation about suicide at work, ‘how to have a conversation with a stranger’ as well as ‘how to have a conversation with a family member’.

The Zero Suicide Alliance is a collaboration of NHS Trusts, including Mersey Care, businesses, and individuals who are committed to suicide prevention. Together they have developed online training that is free to everyone, so that they can help work towards their goals of improving support for people contemplating suicide. With links to videos of people talking about how suicide has impacted on their life, a newsletter, and access to promotional materials, the alliance wants people to end suicide by starting to end the silence.

25 Useful Tips and Tricks for getting the most out of your Google Chrome Browser.  This website has tips for the beginner to the more advanced user.

Helpful tips on how to efficiently switch windows or to ‘pin’ sites you visit frequently so they’re always open when you need them. Manage your bookmarks better or even use Chrome as a calculator and much more.

Reflecting on things that we do, or things that happen, is something that most of us do, to some extent, some of the time. Reflective practice though, is thinking about what we do on a more regular and structured basis, so that we can get the most out of learning from experience, and make learning something that happens continuously.

What are the benefits of reflective practice?

Reflective practice has lots of benefits for us as individuals, and for our workplaces:


  • Increases self-awareness – which is a key part of our emotional intelligence
  • Improves our levels of learning, and retention of knowledge and skills
  • Can help us to identify what not to do, as well as what to do
  • Helps us to develop our skills, and review their effectiveness, rather than carrying on doing things as we have always done them


  • Provides a way of us learning from experience at work, rather than ‘doing training’
  • Improves our levels of learning and retention of knowledge and skills, making us more competent workers
  • Helps to develop creative thinking skills, which can lead to developing innovations at work
  • Encourages active engagement in procedures at work, and thinking about ways to improve them

Why consider reflective practice at all?

Reflective practice is central to improving the way that we learn from experience. Experiential learning is a key way that we all learn – in the 70:20:10 model of how we learn, 70% of learning is through experience – this can be in work, or outside of work.

“The experiential model of learning says that learning is a continuous cycle of finding out new ideas, applying these ideas practically, thinking about what has happened as a result, and then returning to the ideas and confirming or modifying the original ideas based on our experience. The cycle may then start again.”

Source:  Becoming a Better Learner, Campaign for Learning,

“Learning from experience is one of the most fundamental and natural means of learning available to everyone. It need not be expensive, nor does it require vast amounts of technological hardware and software to support the learning process. Instead, in the majority of cases, all it requires is the opportunity to reflect and think, either alone or in the company of other people.”

Source:  Experiential learning – a best practice handbook for Educators and Trainers, Colin M Beard, John P Wilson, Kogan Page, 2006

How to do reflection

There are several different models of reflective practice, including Kolbs Learning Cycle, and Gibbs’ Reflective Cycle. The most straightforward model, however, is Borton’s:

Borton’s Model of Reflection (1970)

Borton Model

WHAT – what is the purpose of returning/reflecting on this situation; what happened; what did other people do; what did I see or do; what was my reaction to what happened?

SO WHAT – so what did I feel at the time of the event; so what do I feel now, are my feelings different to what I felt at the time; so what were the effects of what I did (or didn’t) do; so what positive aspects of the event emerge now on reflection; so what were the feelings of the other people involved at the time?

NOW WHAT (this is about moving thoughts into action) – now what is the main learning I can take from the event; now what can I do; now what should I do; now what might I do to improve or change the way I behave, the way I learn, or the way I work?

For a formal approach to reflection, you would record your reflections in writing – many people use a reflection journal or log to do this. If you would like a template of a reflective log, then please email

Getting started

There is no magic formula for developing as a reflective practitioner. But here are some guidelines to get you started:

  • Time – The most often cited reason why people skimp on reflective practice is a lack of time. Build reflective time into your working schedule; even a few minutes on a regular basis is better than trying to catch up occasionally. Like all habits, little and often is the most effective.
  • Attention – Make a conscious effort to minimise distractions. Put the phone out of earshot and sight line. If you’re writing a reflective log directly on your computer, you may want to go offline to prevent emails coming in and attracting your attention. Find a space where you’re not likely to be interrupted and consider headphones in a noisy environment.
  • Pace – Slow down. If mindfulness works for you, then use this as a way of locating yourself in the present. A minute of breathing from the diaphragm – breathe in for a count of four, hold for a count of four and breathe out for a count of four – will also encourage a reflective brain state. Even if you only have a few minutes for your reflective practice, make each minute count.
  • Curiosity – Approach your reflective practice without judgement or self-criticism. There is no ‘one right way’ to do this. You are doing this for yourself, not for anyone else.

Source ‘Reflective Practice Guide’, CIPD, in collaboration with Grace Owen and Alison Fletcher

There is a very wide range of information available online on reflective practice. Some of it is very academic in nature, although the process itself doesn’t have to be complicated. For some straightforward information, why not look at the Skills You Need Website , or the Becoming a Better Learner booklet, pages 18 and 21

SO WHAT is the point of this article?  To encourage people to reflect on what they learn at work, and how they learn at work.

NOW WHAT can you do?  Try to build in a small amount of reflection into your working week, e.g. at the end of the week, to help you understand more about what you’re learning each week.

International Youth Day

12 August

The United Nations designated 12 August as International Youth Day on 17 December 1999.  The day was adopted as International Youth Day, in recognition of the role that young people can play as agents for change, and in their growing role in the peace and security agenda, as well as in society in general.

The theme for International Youth Day in 2018 is ‘Safe spaces for youth’, and the day highlights the need to work to ensure there are safe spaces for young people, to enable them to engage in governance issues, sports and leisure, digital safe spaces to help young people interact virtually across borders, and safe physical spaces to help accommodate the needs of diverse youth, especially those vulnerable to marginalisation and violence.

World Humanitarian Day

19 August​

World Humanitarian Day is on 19 August each year. The day was designated as World Humanitarian Day on 19 August, to commemorate the anniversary of the 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, Iraq, when 22 UN staff were killed.

The day has been established to pay tribute to the aid workers who risk their lives in humanitarian service and to rally support for people affected by crises around the world.

“Every year on World Humanitarian Day, we shine a spotlight on the millions of civilians around the world whose lives have been caught up in conflict. On this day we also take a moment to honour the brave health and aid workers who are targeted or obstructed as they set out to help people in need, and pay tribute to the government employees, members of civil society and representatives of international organisations and agencies who risk their lives to provide humanitarian aid and protection.”

UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres

Over 130 million people throughout the world are currently in crisis, either through war or natural disasters and are in need of humanitarian aid.