Yes, that’s 10 years of Liz putting up with me (no one knows how she has managed).
I just wanted to share my journey through the decade of being at Imagineer.
So I am going to go all the way back to 2011 where I finished high school and was choosing what to do with my life. For my GCSE options I had done ICT, Textiles and Photography (which luckily I did pass!) I was more of a creative thinker and absolutely hated taking tests and doing written work.
I then decided to go to college. I attended Huddersfield New College and I was studying Graphics, Design and Photography. It was a 2 year course and at first I really enjoyed it. Like I said, I am a creative thinker and doer- but as I was going through college I realised that I didn’t know where this would take me. I started to think about getting a job and working as I needed to start earning money. During this time I was also being assessed through the college for dyslexia and was told I did actually have it.
It was one of those conversations with my parents “I don’t want to be at college anymore” and my mum responded, “Well you either need to stay in college or find a job, you’re not sitting round the house doing nothing”. So I decided to carry on with my college course but look for jobs in the meantime. I did get some jobs. Mainly in restaurants, which unfortunately due to being clumsy, I was let go from after spilling a tray of drinks over a table of 8 people. I didn’t get a wage that weekend and my last shift was shining cutlery for 6 hours.
Then one day I found an apprenticeship scheme through Huddersfield Business College. They sent me on lots of interviews and I was nearly losing all hope of finding a job when I got sent to the Elsie Whiteley Centre in Halifax for my interview and met Liz.
I had tried to do my research on the organisation beforehand and thought that I had an idea on what Imagineer did. Then I get asked the question “What do you know about Imagineer?” and my reply was “I have looked at the website and I see that you are brokers, do you do something with money or debt collection?”
I would like to say that I was correct but I was obviously wrong (we all laugh at this now). We chatted about my background in design and I left.
I thought I had really messed that interview up and went back to New College and finished off my Graphics, Design and Photography course.
With two weeks left of the course I received a phone call and I was hired as an admin apprentice at Imagineer with the idea that I would help start a design project and support people with disabilities with design as well as work on the Imagineer website and create other websites for other organisations.
13th July 2013
I got up, got dressed in my new “work clothes” , packed my lunch and caught the bus into town and started my first day at Imagineer.
We were in two tiny office spaces with the core Imagineer team in one room and myself and the other admin/design apprentice in the other room.
My new work routine kicked in and we had bacon butty Fridays in the main reception area of the building, free of charge for all the people working in the building.
We were expanding to become a bigger team and were at the Elsie Whiteley Centre for 2 years before we moved on to new pastures.
The first Beat It Night started just as I had joined back in 2013 where we started in Leeds at Varsity, after possibly a year of holding them in Leeds we then decided to branch out to Halifax, then Bradford and Huddersfield.
Our events had on average 80 people coming together each month just to have a good time, a drink and a bit of a boogie. We then decided to add a theme to each night, some being seasonal but then adding a bit of ‘Grease’ or ‘Disney’ into the mix every now and again. The Beat It Sessions were monthly in each location and ran all the way up to 2019.
We had regular performances from bands and dancers like The Outsiders, Magpie Movers and also had Daniel Wakeford as well as some other solo artists and lots of open mic opportunities.
After being at the Elsie Whiteley Centre we then moved to our own premises on Gibbet Street, expanding what we were able to do (at one point I even had my own office, go me!).
I was then asked to complete the Graphic Facilitation Training way back in 2015. What a throwback this is.
I am told that Liz once saw me doodling in a team meeting what was being said in my own notes and thought to ask me if I would like to take part in the Graphic Facilitation training.
Here are some photos of me taking part in the Graphic Facilitation Training.
Following on from the Graphic Facilitation training I then joined in on the 5 Day Person Centred Planning Training that Imagineer provided and loved the idea of making peoples dreams and aspirations come true visually and creating a step by step plan on how this could be done.
Following the person centred planning training I started with small bits of Support Brokerage, researching providers or services for people, finding accessible apps and tools, creating recruitment adverts etc. Then came the big jump to Support Brokerage Training.
After completing the graphic facilitation training I started my graphic journey. I would graphic at team meetings initially at the back of the room, then I would transition to the front of the room. We used templates and tools in our Team get togethers to create a strategy of where Imagineer would go next and then finally we advertised this as a service through Imagineer and got our first conference booking in 2016 with the Yorkshire and Humber Involvement Network at the National Coal Mining Museum.
Since then we have travelled all over the country providing our Graphic Facilitation services to different organisations to capture very different events.
In 2017 I then started to facilitate the Graphic Facilitation Training and extended the course from 1 day to 2 full action packed doodling days!
(If you would like to book on to one of our sessions please click the following link: https://www.imagineer.org.uk/graphic-training/ )
It took me a longer time to actually become accredited as a Support Broker. I did the 5 day training course in the later months of 2018 and again the written work got the better of me. The only thing I can relate this to was when I was doing my exams back in high school and I couldn’t get my head around the written work. So instead I sat my gran down, she pretended to be someone who was needing a support plan and I did a Graphic PATH of how that support would be and completed my accreditation in 2019.
I have grown so much as a person working within Imagineer but I have to say my biggest achievement to date is completing the coast to coast bike ride from Bowness on Solway to Tynemouth in 3 days.
We did this as a team and it was brilliant and has some great memories.
As someone who had not ridden a bike since they were a child and only did one practice bike ride before we went, I was so proud that I had actually completed the 97 mile bike ride (or in my case walk) alongside the people I worked with.
This was very short-lived though as only a week later we lost our friend and colleague Beth Fields, in a very tragic way. Since this day we have made a dedication to Beth to raise money annually as a fundraiser to worthy causes in her name and memory. We have also made a point in our organisation to be knowledgeable about Domestic Violence and how to support others who may be going through this.
So I move on to just before the pandemic, we moved out of Gibbet Street to get ready for our new premises and the idea was that we would work from home until our office at Fire & Water was ready.
Shortly after we started working from home the pandemic started and we had to work from then on anyway, due to lockdown restrictions.
We tried lots of different ways to adapt to the situation and took everything online like so many people did.
All the music came to a stop and so did face to face meetings we had with the people we support.
We were also trying to find ways to support our communities as well by creating a small support package called “Support Our Street” and we sourced tablets and phones for people who could not connect with others.
We even adapted our Christmas get together to be online! (Our in-person ones have never really been well attended other than myself and Liz so we thought we would give it a go). As a team, everyone received a little care package with Christmas party games and we ordered ourselves a takeaway and had such a good laugh over zoom. The rubbish tattoo google search conversation was one to remember.
I am going to fast forward a couple of years but we are still working from home but putting so much effort in to getting our new base at Fire & Water ready to be a place for us and the community to enjoy.
So if you are unfamiliar with the “outcome jar” I will quickly explain. At Imagineer we have an Outcomes Jar to pop all our great outcomes that we have achieved over the year. Every now and again we open it and read all our sticky notes. This is a great way for us to remind ourselves of what we have achieved. I am going to share some of my Outcome Jar Moments with you:
There are lots more Outcome Jar Moments that I could share but I think these so far are my biggest.
So there is my 10 year story of working at Imagineer!
I first got involved with Imagineer around 2016, and I quickly felt drawn towards Mollie- her energy, sense of fun and creativity were like a magnet to me! I will never forget our Christmas party during the Covid-19 lockdown, where Mollie prepared and posted out ‘fun boxes’ for us as a team. We all dialled in over zoom, ordered our favourite takeaway and played silly games together online- all Mollie’s brilliant idea! I don’t think I have laughed that much in a very long time, and in that moment, I was living by myself and feeling incredibly isolated. It was much-needed friendship and a feeling of belonging at a time where the world felt incredibly strange. Over the past 7 years Mollie and I have worked together on a whole range of different things from resources, to website and content development and my most recent favourite has been our joint work on delivering coproduction sessions together! If you ever get the chance to work with Mollie, you will absolutely treasure it. She is a superstar, and she definitely helps to bring the colour and sparkle to Imagineer! Happy work birthday Mollie, and here’s to many more!