We’re going through changes

Big Mouth said it, Bowie said it, we’re all going through changes and whilst time may change people, we can’t trace time. Yes, today’s topic is all about change and rightfully so given all that has happened in the world as well as within myself. Being autistic, change is somewhat of a bugbear of mine – I do not like it. You don’t know the plan, everything is in upheaval and your routine is changed entirely, which in itself opens up a whole new can of worms as the uncertainty creates anxiety, which turns into panic/depression and before I know it, I’m in meltdown mode and end up sleeping it off; thus throwing that day’s plans out the window and leaves me feeling no better off. That is why I rely on my bubble of comfort.

Bubble of comfort? I hear you question. What in the h-e double hockey sticks is that? It’s simple; everyone has their own bubble; an invisible one at that, but still a bubble. The personal bubble protects us from negative energy, harm and general stresses and anxiety. This can be made up of anything; friends, family, whatever you find comfort in. What’s great about it is that it’s entirely portable and can be picked and mixed up. So for me, if change does occur or I’m feeling stressed or upset, I rely on my teddies, as they’re part of my bubble. If however, I do not have access to them, I’ll find something  familiar to distract me, typically in the form of a women’s magazine and talking in a group chat I’m part of.

Whilst change isn’t for me, I still recognise its value and how important it can be. Take Pokemon for example; that is all about change. Yes, you can just keep on adding xp to your Magikarp, but if you do that all the time, then granted, you have a strong Magikarp, but at the end of the day, it’s still Magikarp, a Pokemon that’s notorious for being a bit, well…lame.  Its evolution on the other hand, Gyrados, is one of the meanest and coolest mothers in the Alolan region. Note the term ‘evolution’ and think about the comparisons with change. At the end of the day, it’s just a fancier way of saying it, but the metaphorical ideas are still there; without change and evolving, we’re just going to be stuck with Magikarp instead of Gyrados. And whilst that’s fine and if it works for you, great, but bear in mind that it may not work for everyone, myself included.

The time of year can also be attributed to change and how it can go about with it. I’m not talking seven minutes to two in the afternoon on the ninth of September 2020 exactly, but who knows. I’m more on about the season and month itself. Think about it; September is very much an evolutionary month. Students are going back to school, many for  the first time, shops are confusing us with both Halloween and Christmas stuff making us realise just how far into the year we are and the weather is both warm and cool at the same time, making it too warm for coats but too chilly for shorts and shirts. It’s an odd time to say the least. Yet saying that, it’s also exciting. Yes, the shops are way too confusing at the moment, but it reminds me that Christmas and Halloween aren’t too far off, which means my favourite time of year isn’t either. Schools are back open, albeit with a lot of adjustments, meaning we’re back on the road to normality (types the author as meet up restrictions are tightened again). As for the weather, it’s England, we’re notorious for having it be slightly off. But look on the brightside! At least Starbucks will soon have their iconic pumpkin spice lattes back. Despite there being changes, take joy and comfort in the constants; the weird unease of being both Christmas and Halloween, the relief of it finally being jumper weather, fireworks, the fact it’s getting darker more early again. This year may have changed everyone and everything, but that doesn’t mean all hope is lost.

Be good, be nice, be kind, behave,

Charlotte J

Gaming volunteering

We are looking for a group of young people to join a focus group task force to plan, develop and create a gaming themed campaign for our marketing. This opportunity is ideal for anybody who is looking to gain creative industry experience, team working skills and an opportunity to practice their creative skills in an encouraging work environment.

The group will meet once a week for 8 weeks to plan and prepare the campaign. The first focus group will take place on Thursday 17th September at 1:30pm.

The opportunity weeks will be broken down into the following tasks:

Week 1: Discuss The Network. Highlight our ethos, values, how we work and why we do what we do.

Week 2: Discuss the clients. Who they are and how we currently find them.

Week 3: Mindmap ideas for social media campaign

Week 4: Narrow ideas down to one campaign. Conceptualise campaign

Week 5: Create storyboards, characters, visuals, words, etc.

Week 6: Develop storyboards, characters, visuals, words, etc.

Week 7: Bring concept to life.

Week 8: Complete concept.

A few weeks after the campaign has been launched, the group will meet again to discuss the results and to find out how they can include the opportunity on their CV, cover letters and discuss their input to the group in interviews. The Network can then be a reference for you when they apply for jobs in the future.

If you would like to find out more about this opportunity or to sign up, please email Rachel@networklincoln.co.uk or call 07458 016056.

Thinking about going to university?

Written by a recent graduate, Charlotte

Ah, university, it can be the best time of your life, it can be the worst time of your life, but there’s no doubting that whatever the outcome, it’s unforgettable. It’s usually this time of year that college students up and down the country are tweaking their UCAS statements to ensure they get into the university of their dreams, eager to get as far or close as possible from home. But, what if you’re not ready for university? How do you even know? Will you ever know? Is the meaning of life really forty two? Well, read on and you’ll find out as I attempt to answer these questions and more.

As I mentioned previously, university is unforgettable. Where else can you gain a degree whilst pulling an all nighter in the library fuelled by energy drinks and a four pack of crunchies? Fortunately unlike the olden times, university isn’t as elitist as it once was and whilst there are some exceptions such as Oxford, Cambridge and Eton (the really fancy ones) you have just as much a chance as any for getting into the one you want. “But Charlotte!” I hear you cry “I don’t know if I want to do university!” Okay, cool. Again, like the olden times, university isn’t the be all end all it once was. Yes, it does help to have a degree, but this is 2020 we’re in, there’s other options besides a degree. Apprenticeships, volunteering, starting from the bottom and working to the top, the entire world is your oyster! You don’t have to have a degree to get where you want to, the path isn’t completely linear; there’s diversions, distractions and even times where the road cuts off completely. So what do you do? Find a different path until you get back on to your original one. It may take several tries, you may still be on your path, you may be dealing with roadworks that prevent you going any further. All of those are okay and valid and honestly, are part of the journey. If it was that easy, then surely the payoff wouldn’t be nearly as rewarding?

For those that have decided university is for them, good for you as well! Having been to university myself, I would like to take it upon myself to impart some wisdom in the hope that someone out there would take this advice to heart or at the very least, try it out and see what they think.

And with the world being more uncertain than ever, more universities are looking at online teaching for the upcoming year. Whilst this makes it accessible to everyone, unfortunately it’s not for everyone.  If you prefer an active learning environment such as myself, then you may decide on a different approach. If you’re not like me and can cope absolutely fine in a non learning environment, then look at your options. At the end of the day, no one else is doing the learning but yourself, so do what is best for you.

Not one person’s experience is the same and again as I’ve reiterated before, that’s okay. Just because you’re staying home and commuting to classes every day to save money on accommodation works for you, doesn’t mean it will work for others. I mean, in an ideal situation, I would have moved out of student accommodation and found somewhere of my own with friends for second and third year. But I didn’t. Seeing how I’m autistic and therefore classed as disabled, I was able to stay in on campus accommodation all three years. Do I wish that wasn’t the case and I could have done my own thing? Absolutely. Do I regret it? No. It made things easier for me and because I knew what to expect (a big thing for autistic folks) it was comforting and made my experience less stressful.

Tips for university

I would say the most important tip, and I cannot stress this enough, is research. Research the course, research the best uni, research that uni, research the time it gets there, how much in travel fees, the qualifications you’ll need, accommodation, amenities, everything. Without research, you know nothing, and you end up convincing your mum to spend fifty quid for a B&B whilst she fully knows well the area, only for you to see it for yourself and ask can we turn back, feeling incredibly guilty for getting her to fork out that amount of money and getting stuck in traffic and torrential rain on the way back. True story, actually. I’m not naming names, but yeah, should have done me research more.

You want independence from your parents but still miss the comforts of home? You’re not the only one. When considering universities, I knew this would be a problem. I’m not the most careful of people and I will generally miss home at some point, meaning that inevitably, I’d either go back or mum and dad would be meeting me at the local hospital after I, I dunno, sliced my leg open on a night out after falling onto glass. Solution? I have two. Students, we get the job done.  I wanted my university to be far away enough from home so that I have that sense of independence and could become my own person, but at the same time, have it be close enough or easily accessible so that should something happen, it’s easy to come back home. I ended up going to Edge Hill University which whilst pretty far, is super easy to get to. Follow the roads up to Leeds, turn left and then onto the M62 for the last 100 miles. Also, give university a chance.  My mum said to me before I went away that the least I could do is try. If by Christmas I still wasn’t happy, then I could come back home. And you know what? I did and I enjoyed it. Granted there were ups and downs and times where all I wanted was to go back home and enjoy a nice hot bath, but I stuck it out, found my people with the rugby team and by the time I went back for Christmas, I found out how boring home actually is. Don’t let first impressions make up your uni experience. It’s tough and can get lonely, but you’re not the only one and you’ll be okay.

The social life at university is one shrouded in myth and legend, one of horror and fantasy. Making night long friends in the toilets, losing half your outfit in the student union, anything can happen; even more so if you ever take part in the infamous sports socials on a Wednesday night. Chugging as much cheap booze in as little time as possible, being subjected to humiliating rituals and punishments, they’re not for the faint of heart. If you do find yourself at a sports social, have fun, drinking is optional but encouraged and whatever is said, goes. Also if you do have a lecture the next morning, I’d suggest not drinking or go light on the beers. Trust me, I know. *Shudders at the flashbacks*

That said, university social life isn’t all about drinking only to wake up in a bush the next morning with a broken phone and two quid to your name and forgotten memories, no, no! There’s also the infamous fresher’s fair where all the societies group round in a blatant attempt to lure you in with their promises of fun and also let’s face it, the free lollipops and bags of Haribo. Don’t kid yourself, you know that’s the only reason you go along to these things. It’s like Halloween but without the pumpkins. The beauty of such societies is that literally no matter how niche your interest, there’s bound to be a society for it or at the very least likeminded individuals who are willing to meet up for two hours a week to discuss Hungarian goat yodelling techniques. If you find enough people, then you can even set up your own society! Pretty sure you just need to convince the student union that it’s a good idea, but don’t quote me on that; it’s been a few years since I stepped into a university environment and the ol’ noggin ain’t what it used to be.

Depending on where you go, accommodation at university can be hit or miss. Fortunately, mine was generally nice although I will admit to getting a wee bit sick of showers come third year. And yet the lesser blocks had baths? Come on, what’s up with that? Back to the point. Accommodation is also a major factor to consider during your time. Generally the first years are prioritised for on campus living; the uni doesn’t want them scarred for life so it only makes sense. And any that are left over are for those that may need it (such as myself) or even third years, which is something my university did after building new accommodation for us. And this may sound strange, but I found this genuinely helped; make friends with the cleaners. Even if it’s just knowing their name and giving a friendly hello in the mornings. Cleaners are known for getting shtick around campus, but if it wasn’t for them, then the floor from the night before would remain forever sticky and the tables wouldn’t be cleaned. Cleaners do a lot and whilst yes, I don’t understand how they complain of places being messy when it’s their job, it still helps to make it easier for them. Who knows? Maybe the ‘annoying cleaning lady’ won’t have such a bad reputation if you go out of your way slightly for her. Just sayin’ 😉

Finally, just have fun and make the most of it. I’m not saying it’ll be the incredible life experience everyone makes it out to be, if anything I found it quite overrated myself, but that doesn’t automatically not make it worth it. I found my people, got a degree and a knee injury that will no doubt come back to haunt me in my later years out of it. I had fun, had regrets and even had my heart broken on more than one occasion (don’t dump through phone, folks. Try and avoid it if you can). What you put in is what you get out and it can be anything you make it to be; more so even! Be yourself, relax and remember; there’s no pressure. You got this.

This is Charlotte writing for The Network, signing out. Peace and good vibes!

GDPR statement

The Network Data and Privacy Protection Policy: January 2019

Last reviewed: March 2020

Data and Privacy Protection Policy

Introduction

This privacy notice explains the types of personal information we may collect about you when you interact with us. It also explains how we’ll store and handle that information, and keep it safe.

We know there’s a lot of detail here, but we want to make sure you are fully informed about your rights, and how The Network, Lincoln, uses your personal information (data) across all of our services.

We hope the following sections will answer any questions you have, but if not please do get in let us know.

We will need to update this privacy notice from time to time. We will notify regular clients of any significant changes, but you’re welcome to check it whenever you wish.

Who we are

The Network is a Lincoln charity aimed at helping young people achieve their potential and access the support they need. Advice, guidance and support is available to help with employment, training, volunteering, apprenticeships, and other issues that act as a barrier to achievement.

The Network works through one to one support and where needed, ‘signposting’ young people to relevant agencies and organisations. We work with over 60 partners in Lincoln, getting information and opportunities ready to help you decide what you would like to do. Once referred to a partner organisation, we then keep in touch to ensure you are getting on OK.

To find out more about us, you can go to our website: https://www.networklincoln.co.uk/

Or find us on twitter or Instagram go to: @networklincoln. For Facebook it’s: @thenetworklincoln

To keep it simple, “we” and “us” mean The Network and its various projects/services.

Why we hold your data 

The law on data protection sets out a number of different reasons for which an organisation may collect and process your personal data.  These are called ‘lawful bases’. 

The lawful bases we rely on are:

Contract

In certain circumstances, we need your personal data to comply with contractual obligations.

For example if you are applying for a paid job or are a volunteer with us

Public task

In certain circumstances we need to process your personal data to perform a task carried out in the public interest, or on behalf of a public authority.

For example, gathering information required for monitoring by our funders, or gathering details of NEETs for Lincolnshire County Council based on our Data Sharing Agreement

Legal obligation

Where the law requires us to, we need to collect and process your data.  

For example, as an employer we have a legal obligation to disclose employee salary details to HMRC.

Legitimate interests

In certain situations, we need your data to deliver our services in a way which might reasonably be expected and which takes into consideration your rights and interests.

For this basis, we need to tell you about the purposes that are part of our ‘legitimate interests’. These purposes include:

  • Providing high quality information, advice, guidance and learning services
  • Ensuring our services and support are tailored to your needs
  • Sharing your data with third parties as appropriate (for example referring you to one of our partners or helping you to gain a work experience placement)
  • Involving volunteers in our work
  • Being accountable to third parties such as our funders, donors, supporters and regulatory bodies
  • Fulfilling our charitable purposes and benefiting wider society
  • Monitoring and evaluating the impact of what we do
  • Marketing and public relations
  • Managing risks and protecting the wellbeing and safety of everyone who comes into contact with us
  • Ensuring the efficient administration and operation of our services, including keeping information accurate and up to date

What type of data do we collect?

Personal data means any information relating to an identifiable person.  The following table outlines the kind of personal data we may collect in the course of our services.

Items in bold are ‘special category data’ or criminal conviction data – we will need your explicit consent to collect and process this information unless another condition* for processing applies. In some cases this information may be required as

  All enquirers, staff, volunteers, customers, partner organisations and other service users    Name and contact details (usually email address and telephone numbers, and a postal address where necessary along with the nature of the enquiry and any relevant information)  
In addition to the above:
  Staff and volunteers working for us  Work  history, skills and experience, criminal record check – only for specific roles, training records, availability, emergency contact details, relevant health information, equality monitoring data such as ethnicity, gender, age, performance and (for staff) payroll information.  
Clients using The Network for information, advice, guidance and support in getting into work, training or educationRequired: skills, interests and experience, work and education history,   Optional: equality monitoring data such as ethnicity, gender, age. (You may tick “prefer not to say”) You may choose to give us other information such as health conditions, a copy of your CV, potential barriers or criminal convictions in the course of an appointment. We will only share this information with another organisation if you give your explicit consent or another condition* applies.  
16-17 yr old NEETs (Not in Education, Employment or Training) or outside of mainstream education/employment etc.Required: signed permission, name, date of birth, contact details, relevant information in terms of employment/education/training outcomes This is an opt-in option which will be discussed in the meeting. It’s part of our “Information Sharing Agreement” with Lincolnshire County Council to help monitor and track the progress of young people not in mainstream education whilst also providing relevant support if needed. You may access the agreement and relevant documents at any time to see how Lincolnshire County Council handles your data and to read their full purposes and legal bases.  
People booking on to training/eventsDietary needs, access needs/adaptations, payment information where necessary and contact details where needed  
Clients receiving continued support  Depending on the nature of the support, data may include: Your CV (new and/or old), records of work done with you, information on barriers or concerns, support services used, welfare benefits, equality monitoring data, personal achievements / challenges, health, wellbeing and social care information, criminal record information, family and lifestyle information, carer / support worker contact details,  age, work experience, education, training and volunteering history.  
Partner organisations  Signed partnership agreement, organisation name, best points of contact, names of relevant staff members to be contacted in regards to client referrals, upcoming events and training. A chosen Key point of contact will have the choice to opt in to their work contact details being shared with other members of the partnership agreement in the interest of smooth collaborative working. This may be different to the authorized signatory of the agreement

*There are specific conditions for processing special category data and criminal offence data defined in UK law.

When do we collect your personal data?

  • When you enquire about any of our services, for example by phone, email, in person, at an event, via social media/direct message or online registration.  Online registration could be via an approved third party or other processor, such as Eventbrite. Phone calls may come through a work mobile or a VOIP app such as Horizon if distance working.
  • When you visit The Network to find out more about our services and to access our information, advice and guidance in regards to work, education and training. 
  • When you apply to work for us, either paid or as a volunteer
  • When you fill in forms (paper or online) to register for a service or event.
  • When you use our information services, for example registering to receive our newsletters, attending a networking event or meeting with our project staff or volunteers.
  • When you choose to tell us about personal information specific to you which helps us tailor our services to meet your needs.
  • When you provide us with information that enables us to work with your organisation
  • When you take part in research, evaluation or surveys in connection with our services.
  • When you have been referred to us by another organisation, for example the Job Centre Plus, local organisations and charities, our partners, social service etc.  In this case we will contact you directly as soon as possible and explain who we are and what we do. We will also explain how we will use your information if you choose to use our services.
  • When we record and pass on your details (with permission) to Lincolnshire County Council’s Post 16 team to assist with tracking young people not in mainstream education. This is both for data monitoring/statistics and to help provide the correct network of support to the young person if needed
  • Our website uses cookies to track visitor progress through the site. This is to assist your navigation of our website whilst you are using it, and does not store any identifiable data about you personally.
  • When distance working we may use video chat software to provide our service. This may again involve data being processed by a third party software and their separate GDPR procedures.
  • During a safeguarding concern we may record and pass your details onto the local authority responsible for safeguarding or potentially emergency services in an emergency situation.

How your data is used/stored

Your data is used to provide you with services that you have requested. It helps us to respond to your queries and communicate with you more effectively. 

It is sometimes necessary for your data to be shared with third parties as part of providing you with an efficient, high quality service, or for external monitoring of our services. Some examples of where your data will be shared with other organisations include:

  • When we refer you to partner organisations to access the specific support that they provide, with your permission. It will then be stored according to their policies and procedures
  • When you come to us to find out about local services, work experience, volunteering etc. we can pass your details directly to the organisations you are interested in if you would like us to. 
  • When you ask us to help you find community activities or support services and to pass your details on
  • When you register for certain services, your data may be processed by an approved third party service or app, for example:
    • Registering for our events via a third party booking service (Eventbrite)
    • Signing up to receive one of our newsletters, which are created and distributed using Mailchimp.
  • When we are required to share information with project funders, partners or evaluators to ensure we are properly monitored and our services are meeting expected standards. It will then be stored according to their policies and procedures
  • When we share your information in regards to our Information Sharing Agreement with Lincolnshire County Council, it will then be stored according to their policies and procedures
  • When distance working we may use video chat software to provide our service. This may again involve data being processed by a third party software and their separate GDPR procedures.
  • During a safeguarding concern we may pass your details onto the local authority responsible for safeguarding or potentially emergency services in an emergency situation.

We take steps to ensure that any digital service providers we use are secure, GDPR compliant and operating in line with UK data protection laws.

We will never sell your data to anyone.

Your data will be stored on secure, password protected servers and may also be kept in paper or electronic filing systems. 

Paper-based filing systems are kept in locked cabinets in secure buildings with restricted access to offices.  Electronic filing systems are kept on a secure, password-protected server, and only accessible to authorised personnel in line with their duties and responsibilities.

Databases may be ‘cloud-based’ and managed by third party processors. We take steps to ensure that any providers of such services that we use are appropriately secure, encrypted and compliant with GDPR and UK data protection laws.

How long will we keep your personal data?

We will only keep your personal data for as long as necessary – the length of time will vary depending on the reason you gave us your data in the first place.  Some examples are given in the table below.

We have archiving systems appropriate to each project or service to ensure any data kept is the minimum required to fulfil contractual, legal or safeguarding obligations.  We have regular systems in place for deletion of electronic data and shredding of paper records.

PurposeLength of time kept
Using The Network to enquire about our servicesPersonal data is kept for no more than 2 years after the last contact we had with if you have fully engaged with our services. After an initial enquiry, if no reasonable or relevant contact can be made with you we will delete it after 3 months. If you re-contact us, your data will be collected again at the time.
Newsletters/bulletin mailing list  For as long as you want to receive the bulletins. You can unsubscribe or change your details at any time by clicking on the link in each bulletin
Using The Network for our services in regards to information, advice, guidance and supportPersonal data will be kept for the minimum length of time specified by our funding bodies, except: Where there is no specified time period, personal data within our records will be kept for no more than 2 years after the last contact we had with you.Where we are working with adults at risk or children/young people. Keeping detailed records is fundamental to good safeguarding practice, so in these cases, project data will be securely archived for the lifetime of project participants.    
Staff and volunteer personnel recordsWe keep a list of names and dates of service as part of our organisational archive.  All other data as part of personnel records will be deleted/shredded within 5 years of your leaving date, except: Financial records are kept for 7 years  References we provide for you are kept for 10 years from your leaving date.

Your rights

Right to be informed

This privacy notice informs you about how The Network will use, store and handle your personal information. We will review it regularly.

Please contact our office via the website, email, phone or in person to make a request in accordance with your rights as explained below.  We may ask you to verify your identity, to ensure that no unauthorised person can access or alter your data.

Contact details for our office is on the website: https://www.networklincoln.co.uk/contact-us/

Or you can phone us directly at:

01522 245002

We will deal with all requests in line with guidance supplied by the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO).

Right of access

You can ask to see the personal data we hold about you. 

Right to rectification

You have the right to have inaccurate personal data changed, or completed if it is incomplete.

Right to erasure

You have the right to have your personal data erased in certain circumstances. This right may not apply if there is a legitimate overriding reason why the data should be kept.

Right to restrict processing

You have the right to limit the way we use your personal data if you have a particular reason for wanting the restriction. This will usually be for a limited period of time whilst any issues are resolved.

Right to data portability

This right applies only to personal data provided in specific circumstances and relates mainly to automated processing where you have given your data to a company, for example as a customer of an online banking service.

Right to object

You have the right to object to

  • Processing based on legitimate interests or the performance of a task in the public interest
  • Direct marketing
  • Processing for the purpose of scientific/historical research and statistics

You must have an objection on grounds relating to your particular situation, ie not just a general objection.  We will stop processing your data unless there are compelling legitimate grounds which override individual rights/interests or if the processing is for the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims.

Rights relating to automated decision making / profiling

At present, our data processing does not involve automated decision-making or automated profiling.  We will update our privacy information and notify people affected if this changes.

Questions about this privacy information

If you have any questions about this privacy notice, please contact the Chief Executive in writing or by e-mail.

For more information about your rights, or if you believe that we are processing your personal data in any way that is inconsistent with the law or are not satisfied with responses to any query you raise with us, you may contact the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) telephone helpline on 0303 123 1113 or via the ICO website at https://ico.org.uk/