Skills Tank’s focuses on giving adults 16+ with learning disabilities/difficulties and behaviour that challenges a better, brighter more fulfilled life through fun, easy to understand and fully supported practical education.
Skills Tank has transformed the lives of many adults with challenging behaviour, learning difficulties/disabilities, mental health and autism.
Having spent many years delivering ‘hands on’ training and education in Forensics and Behavioural Studies for Children and Adults with specific Challenging Behaviour Chris was given the opportunity to use all of his skills and take the lead role setting up a ‘Specialist Service’ at St. Margaret’s Hospital in Great Barr. He was responsible for the specialist learning of Adults and Children with challenging behaviour and learning difficulties/learning disabilities.
Within this role he worked and trained in some of the countries secure hospitals working with adults with extreme behaviours giving him vast practical, and hands on experience of learning around Challenging Behaviour.
With this knowledge Chris went on to setup a ‘Specialist Service’ within a Sutton Coldfield Special School working with children with Severe Challenging Behaviour, and parents whose children have Autism, and extreme behaviour difficulties. During this period he also worked with Sutton Coldfield Child Abuse Team and with similar teams in and around the Sutton Coldfield area.
All of the above experience enabled him to take a side step into Birmingham Social Services and the area of Learning Difficulties/Disabilities’, Complex needs, and the world of Community Education. This role took him into the work place, working with Adults with Disabilities’, and working with Employers around opportunities for Work Experience & Paid work. During this time Chris also worked alongside his wife, Veronica, running their own Care Home for Adults with ‘Difficult Behaviour’, which they ran for 7 years.
This unique practical knowledge and the absolute belief that so much more could be done to help adults with learning difficulties, learning disabilities and challenging behaviour led Chris to the fledgling idea that became Care First.
It came about after a chance meeting; Chris went to have a ‘goodbye coffee and chat’ with a client who lived in a Care Home [owned by Neil Thorogood]. Chris went to explain that he was moving on because he wanted to setup a ‘Never been done before’ Adult Service based in a college for adults who have Behaviour Difficulties and who ‘Learn Differently’.
This chance meeting with Neil, a qualified accountant and a successful discussion with North Birmingham College [now James Watt campus] resulted in Care First Ltd coming to life first, then Skills Tank.
His mission is for Care First Ltd to do much more to improve the quality of life for people through learning and personal development.
Neil Thorogood – FCA, Fellow Chartered Accountant
Finance and Business Development Director
Neil joined the training sector in 1991 giving him 25 years of very valuable knowledge; he worked initially with the unemployed. He was involved in the planning and set up of Care First having met Chris and Veronica in 1995 because of his and their involvement in residential care for adults with learning disabilities.
His drive, to this day, is to make a difference to disadvantaged people’s lives and build a sustainable organisation that helps, nurtures and develops adults with learning difficulties, learning disabilities, behaviour that challenges, mental health, autism, brain injuries, complex needs and physical disabilities to help them enjoy happier, calmer and more fulfilled lives.
He is determined to provide quality education that meets individual’s needs, however severe their problems may be. He is a trustee of a Birmingham bereavement charity helping families overcome the loss of their children.
Director of Governance and Ethics
Veronica is responsible for learning resources, purchasing and ethics. Her other responsibilities include human resource management, quality audit of the provision and overseeing learner enrolments and registers. As director of Care First since incorporation, she has been central to the company’s development and diversification.
Management & Support Team
P.A to Directors
Debbie’s early career was based in the NHS where she gained a BTEC Diploma and worked for ten years in Haematology. Her decision to change career direction led to Debbie retraining and gaining a variety of qualifications in IT and Business.
Debbie has worked for Care First Ltd for 17 years as the Directors’ Personal Assistant. She has a wide variety of secretarial and administrative duties both for the Directors and for the company in general. This includes being a friendly, helpful, first point of contact for staff and external agencies, responding to enquiries and having specific responsibilities in HR, finance and recruitment.
Clinical Support Mentor – Skills Tank
Jo has worked in various roles within Care First and Skills Tank over the past 12 years. She has designed and delivered services as well as managing Skills Tank hubs before her move into clinical support and wellbeing. This role utilises the vast amount of knowledge she has gained working with students who have very varied backgrounds, complex needs and behaviour that challenges.
She is involved in making sure the clinical needs of students are met and that the business has the correct protocols in place. Her role involves working with community nurses, social workers and carers as well as the learners themselves. The knowledge she has gained over many years at Care First and Skills Tank helps her to work as part of a team that is involved in assessments of potential new learners to understand their needs and capabilities so that a person centred development and support program can be put in place before they join us.
Glenys is one of our friendly helpful customer support staff; she is at the front end of our business providing students and carers with information on the courses we offer and organising taster days helping them see if Care First’s services with work for them. Glenys liaises with Community Options personnel, Social Workers, Charities such as Midland Mencap, Mind etc. and potential students and their carers. She works closely with Del Davies to organise appointments for assessment interviews and taster sessions.
Wayne, our Clerical Support Officer for Skills Tank, originally came to work with Care First on a government-sponsored Future Jobs Fund back to work scheme having been unemployed for a while. The aim of the scheme was to help find long term unemployed people jobs in sectors where they didn’t have the skills needed to secure employment.
At the end of the schemes 6 months, some 6 years ago now, he was offered a role working as part of the admin team for Care First Limited and Skills Tank. Today he is an integral part of Skills Tank’s administration team liaising with professionals, social workers, community nurses, NHS staff and County Council Service Commissioners organising day provisions for new Skills Tank clients. He works alongside Skills Tank’s Quality Standards Manager & Audit Quality Coordinator ensuring we surpass our quality goals through regular service audits.
Rob looks after all aspects of marketing, communications and promotion for Care First. He works closely with the directors and support staff as well as the tutors and students to produce the materials required – creating awareness of what’s possible when students and staff combine to achieve wonderful results.
Like to know more?
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