The Centre has always defined and prided itself on being a person-centred organisation, with a commitment to reaching out to people and giving impartial advice to identify the right job, course or support best suited to their needs. One way the Centre has sought to get an independent assessment of the quality and impact of this work is to apply for the national Matrix standard.
The standard looks at how organisations provide information, advice and guidance (IAG) that delivers the best outcomes for service users. Following a review of all its systems and processes for recording the way it engaged and advised people, the Centre first secured the standard in 2009. The original Assessment Report offered a string validation of the Centre's model and approach, with comments from service users and stakeholders ranging from;
"They are good at salvaging situations, restoring learners' faith in learning and, more importantly in themselves",
"They rescued a very difficult situation by their reliability, drive and hard work, they are now very definitely the first and best partner we pick."
Since achieving the award the Centre has been subject to formal reassessment every 3 years. The reviews in 2012, 2015 and 2018 confirmed the ongoing investment by the Centre in its IAG service and the benefits this delivered for learners and other service users. The 2018 Report, for example, highlighted the Centre's development of new, accessible facilities and resources and its increased use of social media as ways in which it had improved the scope and impact of its service.
The Centre's most recent reassessment took place in October 2021. The Assessor interviewed staff, Trustees, learners and partner organisations to form an objective view on the IAG service. One of the key things noted in the report was the Centre's dedication to maintaining engagement with and support for its clients, despite the pandemic limiting opportunities for one-to-one contact. The Assessor cited in particular the way the Centre had adapted its service to encompass greater use of social media, digital and online technology to expand the ways it engaged with learners.
Some of the comments captured during the interviews included:
"They have a very inclusive approach and understood and responded to my needs"
"They are kind and considerate towards learners and use IAG effectively to ensure learners enrol on the right courses"
"I have plenty of opportunities to talk in confidence about my situations and needs. This has improved my knowledge of options open to me and helped me with my next steps"
Taken together, the feedback from all participants underlined the Centre's IAG service as an ongoing strength of the organisation. The Assessor also noted partnership working and continual investment in staff as key to the value of the IAG service.
As a result the Centre was successful in securing the Matrix standard for the 5th time, an award it will hold through to October 2024. During this period it will look at areas of development such as higher level accreditation of staff and producing an IAG Code of Practice to ensure it sustains the overall quality of service.