Give & Gain Day Wales: “To coin a phrase, just do it”

Carol Howells is manager of the Cowbridge branch of the Principality Building Society and lead a team in this year’s Give & Gain Day 2016 in Wales. This year was Carol’s first experience of Give & Gain Day and she attended BITC Cymru’s Team Leader training in the lead-up to the event.

Carol and her team spent the day at Corneli Primary School in Bridgend introducing pupils to the rudiments of the Jamie Oliver Food Revolution which aims to ‘provide children with access to good, fresh, nutritious food for generations to come’.

Carol Hall

What kind of experience was being a team leader?

I have to confess that, leading up to the big day, I was really nervous about leading a team and standing up in front of a group of children extolling the virtues of healthy eating. It’s completely different from my day-to-day work in the adult world managing a branch of a Building Society. There’s no place to hide!

However, once I stood up and started speaking, the nerves just ebbed away and the whole day was really good fun. I think the fact that I’d been fully prepared by the training helped me overcome my fears.  Even though I was nervous initially, I knew where I was going and what I was doing.

What did you get out of it, personally and professionally?

Personally, it was a joy to succeed as part of a team. Everyone - from our Principality staff including James Harper our CRS manager, deputy head Kirstie Evans and Mrs. Sue Jones from Corneli Primary School, the BITC Cymru staff and the pupils - put their all into making the day a success. 

It was so gratifying to feel that we’d helped guide the children towards a healthier diet. Their enthusiasm was great to witness and I enjoyed responding to their questions.  It was also a really fun day.

Professionally, it was a fantastic opportunity to get down to some teamwork with colleagues from Cardiff and Bristol whom I don’t get to work with every day.  E-mailing people is very different from face-to-face teamwork.  We got to know each other really well. 

How did you find the Team Leader training? Did it help with the planning and execution of your project?

It was a huge help and gave me a bit of a framework to follow. 

The training we received from Simon at BITC Cymru was in-depth and invaluable and ensured that I knew exactly what I was doing and wasn’t dumbstruck on the day. The risk assessment was covered really well and gave me the confidence to deal with my project with authority. Simon was really patient and ran through things with me individually after the main training session. On the day, Mark from BITC Cymru was a huge support and guided me through the complexities of the day. Both were fab!

Healthy eating advice on a plate

What new skills and experiences did the whole Give and Gain experience give you and the team?

The day at Corneli Primary definitely honed my management, leadership and organisational skills. A hands-on project like this really does put all your skills to the test.

As a team, we bonded with each other and with the children. In terms of empathy, it was fantastic to work with children between five and ten, sense their enthusiasm and enjoy them keenly asking questions about nutrition. They were really excited about sharing the healthy eating messages with their parents too, which was really touching. 

I was working with people I hadn’t met before and it created a trust and intimacy between us so, as a team-building experience, it was unbeatable. 

Would you do it again and would you recommend it to others?   

Absolutely. As I drank my well-earned large glass of wine the night of the event I started to look forward to next year’s Give & Gain Day. It was a great experience and I’d recommend it to anyone.  To coin a phrase, just do it.