This week, we are shining the spotlight on Real Ideas Organisation (RIO), a charity based in south west England. RIO focus their work on solving problems and creating opportunities for people, communities and organisations.
RIO has a team of 60 who suupport thousands of individuals every year through a range of events and experiences, coaching, mentoring, business support and consultancy. They are clearly a very diverse organisation, and during ‘usual’ operations they can be doing anything from reimagining new futures for old buildings to supporting young people to take positive steps towards work, education or training…and everything and anything in between! We asked them to give us an idea of an average week, to which we were answered “there’s no such thing as a typical week for the team at Real Ideas!”.
Before the Coronavirus pandemic they had been running a series of support sessions to mentor and coach young people to develop the skills they need to move forward with their lives, whilst also working with Plymouth City Council to involve more people in making decisions about green spaces and parks. At the same time they were operating three buildings, running them as co-work spaces with shared business, creative and making facilities and running events from these spaces. They are used to diverse working and following the needs and requirements of their community.
We asked the team about how the pandemic has affected their working conditions and routines, to which they said:
“Fortunately, many our staff are used to remote working, so whilst a bit of a culture shock not to see each other in person, it has been a relatively easy transition from office to home working. It was our customer facing delivery that we were most concerned about. Much of what we do involves being in a room with participants – supporting people, working in schools, running buildings with live events programmes – relies on face to face contact, so lockdown brought immediate and fundamental changes to how we work with the people we support.”
Much like most of the charities in our network, RIO moved their service delivery online. Within days of lockdown being announced RIO had scoped out, tested and set up a digital platform which enabled them to deliver online meetings and events. Since then, they have delivered more than 50 online sessions and supported over 1,000 people including 400 vulnerable young people. This can only be counted as a success; more than 650 people attended one of their online webinars and 400 young people are continuing on their employability programme. The team said “in fact, engagement with young people on our programmes has increased during lockdown”.
Devonport Guildhall, one of the buildings opened by RIO for internet access
We asked RIO what the biggest challenge had been so far in terms of service delivery and they explained that digital disadvantage has resulted in some users being unable to access assistance, support and learning opportunities: “We started to get concerned that some of the most vulnerable were being hardest hit due to lack of connectivity or kit – without access to the internet they couldn’t access assistance from health professionals, support from foodbanks or learning activities set by schools”. In response to this, the worked with funders and partners to distribute smart phones, tablets and wifi dongles to those who struggled with internet access. They also opened up their buildings so that those who needed to use PCs or complete essential paperwork such as Universal Credit applications had somewhere to go.
If you would like to find out more about RIO, you can visit their website at: www.realideas.org
Email them at firstname.lastname@example.org or give them a call at 0330 223 4158