Since WeDiscover is usually on Zoom, the team tends to be spread around the country, with some in our homes and some at the office. However, this week was a little different to the average WeDiscover week as I was lucky enough to attend two graduations of WeMindTheGap Gappies. Opportunities like this are a good excuse to bring the WeDiscover team together in actual real life, so Sam, Serena, and I came over for a couple of days to help out and share an actual office with the team.

The first graduation was Mollie’s, a previous WeDiscover Gappie who we referred to The Prince’s Trust’s programme with Cheshire Fire & Rescue in Ellesmere Port. She’d gone on to complete their 12-week course with flying colours, getting a job out of it at the end. Their graduation involved a three-course meal and was a smart affair, with everyone dressed to the nines (a rare experience for me). Mollie, who previously was reluctant to show her face on Zoom, welcomed Laura and me with a smile, stating “I didn’t expect you to be that tall,” as this was the first time I’d actually met her in person. This Mollie was worlds away from the one we met back in October last year. We chatted with her family at the drinks reception, with her Mum expressing how grateful she was that Mollie joined WeDiscover, which is always great to hear. Mollie did an excellent speech in front of almost a hundred people and was actually excited to do so. Perhaps she’ll be on the after-dinner speeches circuit soon enough.

Since most of the team were together, that afternoon we explored the sights of North Wales, taking a walk across the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct in Llangollen, followed by a meal in the evening. Remote working has its benefits and definitely allows for a lot more freedom but there are little things that can’t be achieved through a screen, and these sort of team outings are one of them.
Thursday saw us welcoming Blondel Cluff and her team from the National Lottery Community Fund into the office to have a closer look at what goes on at WeMindTheGap. Members of the WeMindTheGap family from across the programmes were brought in to meet them, allowing them to see the progress of our Gappies. I didn’t actually get to meet them at the time, as I was delivering a session on World Health Day from a shed in the office, one of the only quiet places at the time. This year, the theme for the day, every 7th April, was ‘Our Planet, Our Health’, making us recognise that the things that are good for ourselves are also good for the planet. We each designed posters to draw attention to some key facts and made pledges to support the theme.

That evening saw another celebration, the Graduation of our Flintshire Men. Members of the team from across WeMindTheGap chipped in to help out, with all of us donning our fancy clothes once again – I even had to pop out at lunch for an emergency iron. This occasion was more of a drinks and nibbles reception so I took the opportunity to eat a tray of vegan nibbles to myself, after offering them to others, of course. These evenings are always an impressive representation of the WeMindTheGap spirit as, although we’re a small charity, we’re a solid team, with people performing multiple roles throughout the evening. I’d never met the graduates before but they were a pleasure to chat to; smiling, confident, and chuffed to be there. By all accounts, they’d come a long way and are sure to go much further.

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