A Smart Challenge for Strode’s Students with Balfour Beatty VINCI POSTED BY Natalia Orlowska, November 2019 

Strode’s College students raised over £450 during a work inspiration challenge sponsored by Balfour Beatty VINCI. The 44 students, who are all on Level 2 vocational courses, took part in the four-day challenge, 15-18 October 2019, raising money for nine different charities. 
During a day of team building at the Aspire Centre, the students, supported by volunteer mentors from Balfour Beatty VINCI, worked in teams to plan and carry out a fundraising day at Strode’s College. From building spaghetti towers to party budgeting, the students discovered their strengths and developed essential workplace skills. Expert speakers, Abbey Reid of Balfour Beatty VINCI on Team Work, Mark Bradbury of Handelsbanken on Budgeting and Money Management, and Sue Serret of Slough Homeless Our Concern (SHOC) on Charity Fundraising, shared additional knowledge for the students to incorporate into their fundraising plans. 
Back at Strode’s for the remainder of the week, the students worked with Fiona Jones, Chief Executive of Slough Aspire on project management skills and putting their fundraising activities into action. “Empowering students to learn and implement skills in different ways is vital to preparing them for the world of work. We designed this programme to allow the students to build their team working skills while managing a project and operating within a budget, all of which are essential workplace skills, so that they could start to prepare for going out on work experience in the future.” said Fiona Jones of Slough Aspire CIC. 
From car washing to food drives to throwing mental wellbeing themed water balloons, the teams designed creative ways to incentivise their fellow students and their lecturers to donate to their causes and tell the all-important stories about their chosen charities to raise awareness. Charities who benefitted from the students’ efforts were, Slough Homeless Our Concern, Mind, Battersea Dogs and Cats Home, Help for Heroes, Cancer Research UK, The British Heart Foundation, Chrohn’s and Colitis UK, and the NSPCC. 
Sue Serret from SHOC said: “It was a pleasure to talk to the students about my experience of fundraising to assist them with their choice of charity. A very enthusiastic group of students chose our charity SHOC, which is a day centre for people sleeping rough on the streets of Slough. The students really took on board the advice I gave and threw themselves into thinking of creative ways to raise funds and awareness. Their idea of collecting non-perishable food and cash donations was a great way to engage other students on campus easily. The students achieved so much in a very short space of time and I am so impressed by their energy and compassion.” 
The students wrapped up their week by presenting their achievements to the college’s senior leadership team and preparing their CVs ready to apply for work experience placements later in the year. Abbey Reid, Communications Manager for Balfour Beatty VINCI, joined the College leaders in listening to the student’s presentations and she said: ““It was great to be able to support this work inspiration challenge both as a project team and as an individual. The students were very receptive and took on board all of the advice we gave them about team work in the workplace. Balfour Beatty VINCI are working in the area to upgrade the M4 between junctions 3 and 12 to a smart motorway. Being able to support the local community, in this case by sponsoring the challenge for the students, is just one way in which we hope to leave behind a skills legacy as part of the project. I was amazed to see the students’ improvement in confidence and ability in such a short space of time” 
To find out more about upcoming events and projects at Slough Aspire or how your business can sponsor or lead such an event, please contact Fiona Jones, Chief Executive of Slough Aspire via 
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