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Meet Gemma, LiftTraining Programme Co-ordinator

Gemma joined National Star in 2012 as LiftTraining’s Programme Coordinator. She looks after a small team of Travel Trainers who support and develop learner’s abilities and confidence in the use of public or other forms of transport.  Gemma also delivers travel training. In her role she is required to co-ordinate meetings with potential learners and meetings with contacts across the various schools and colleges we work with. In addition, she evaluates each month how the scheme is progressing. Gemma is based in Derbyshire.

What attracted you to National Star?

I worked previously as a national trainer, but wanted more local work. I was seeking a job that empowered young adults and improved their lives. I liked the ethos of National Star’s LiftTraining programme in giving young adults with disabilities greater independence through travel, in turn having a big impact on their lives by increasing confidence and providing greater future choice.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

It’s not a typical 9am – 5pm job, so I can be out and about very early in the morning and, or after school / college time in the afternoon. In rural Derbyshire it can be a challenge when I am working with a learner who lives over an hour away, increasing my travelling time and making some days longer than others.

What are the key skills required for your role?

It is essential that I have the ability to communicate effectively and build rapport with a mixture of people – young learners, families, schools or colleges, and other agencies. I also need to be able to cope with change and a varied timetable, as each day is different and each learner is different. Patience and adaptability play an important role, as not even the best laid plans can always go as you planned. IT skills are important as there is a lot of report writing. This includes recording referrals and achievements each time I work with a learner, as well as my own observations.

How does your role make a difference at National Star?

In Derbyshire I am at the forefront of National Star’s expansion into other counties. This helps the organisation spread the word that National Star is not just a residential college based in Gloucestershire. This will become more important as National Star continues to grow.

What training and development have you received?

I have attended National Star’s mandatory training, including Health and Safety, Equality and Diversity, Boundaries, and Safeguarding. When I became a Travel Trainer, I attended a three day course that gave me my first taste of working with learners. It involved introducing them to public transport, ways of increasing their independence, ensuring learner safety, dealing with different learner behaviours, identifying coping mechanisms if things were not going to plan and implementing safety when lone working.

What would you say to someone thinking of applying to National Star?

If you feel you could do well at National Star, just apply! If you enjoy working in a varied role that’s different every day and you like the challenge of working with a diverse group of people, it’s definitely your job. Working here certainly makes you feel as though you are making a real difference.

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