Features

Mentoring at SCWA – an eye-opener.

It seemed like a no-brainer, in 2014.  The Company wanted volunteers to start a mentoring scheme at the Academy.  I had the time, and after completing the very thorough safeguarding checks, was delighted to be deemed eligible.

But did I have the qualifications?  Ok, I had a lifetime experience in business, managing and helping those reporting to me to develop.  And yes, some years ago I’d been on a short coaching course.  That was after I retired, and I had never put that learning into practice – not even with (on?) my nine grandchildren. 

I admit that those nine were a good part of my motivation.  Back then, the eldest was 10; so ‘practising’ on an older SCWA pupil might, I thought, stand me in good stead later when striving to expand the mind-set of those rather closer to my heart. 

That’s OK, I rationalised.  The books say that in the best mentor/mentee relationships, both parties gain.  And I was pretty sure that I could add something to the outlook and life view of my yet-to-be- allocated pupil.

That was confirmed in spades at the briefing arranged for us new mentors.  “A significant percentage of the pupils are eligible for free school meals.  Whether your mentee comes from such a household or not, none of the families will have anything like the breadth of life experience – or the contacts - that you can bring to them.” 

And that has been proved true, three times.  My first, year 10, mentee’s parents both owned businesses in the service sector but while the family work ethic was incredibly strong, my guy had no concept of what else he might aim for – or where his skills and interests in art and IT might take him if developed.  By luck, my daughter in law had a good friend who worked as an animator for various TV programmes, and I managed to take my guy, plus three of his fellow pupils and one of the SCWA teaching staff, to spend a few hours in one of the largest independent TV production companies, with the animator as our guide.  It was eye-opening stuff for them, and for me too!  

The work ethic of my second, again year 10, mentee was no less strong.  A bright young lady whose parent is a skilled tradesman, she already saw her future in bookkeeping and accountancy – ideally working for a company in the fashion industry.  But why would they choose her, from all other applicants, I asked?  Guiding her to find ways of answering that question became the focus of our bi-monthly sessions.  

Despite feeling I had helped both pupils, I found working with 14 year olds somewhat unsatisfactory as  the world of work seemed very far away for both.  So discussions about possible GCSE choices, and what paths each might open or close, all seemed rather unreal to them.  So last year I asked for a year 12 student.  And boy, was this a life-changer for me. 

  

I’ve been incredibly lucky, and led a very sheltered life.  I have never been abused, nor lived with alcoholics.  No one in my family died prematurely.  No one went hungry.  No one was disabled in any way.  No one had to battle against the odds.

My third mentee was paraplegic from birth – and had always battled against the odds.  He was a fighter through and through.  Utterly charming, but a fighter nevertheless. 

Studying Film (his passion) Drama, and Media, he had a very clear view that while his disabilities would be a real problem ‘on set’, they would be immaterial in script writing and other pre-production roles.  So he had set his sights on being accepted for the Film Studies course at Greenwich University. 

I cannot remember how many points he needed to secure his place, but a top score for his ‘project’ was essential.  He wanted to focus on some aspect of disability, and we worked up to “the role of media in changing perceptions of disability”.   The Paralympic Games in Rio had recently finished, and while they did not get the same coverage as those in London in 2012, there was no doubt that they had brought some very different body shapes into UK living rooms.  TV viewership had peaked at 3.27million, but never dropped below one million.  Worldwide audience figures topped 3.4billion.   

Serendipity again…  at a lunch party with some neighbours I discovered that their daughter had a major role in the TV production company that covered both Paralympic Games for Channel 4.  So my mentee was able to visit Channel 4, with the team from Sunset and Vine (S&V), and take part in a meeting at which the success (or otherwise) of the programming was analysed with a Professor from Bournemouth University. 

He further refined his project title after that meeting.  But more importantly he came back with a new ambition.  Yes, of course he was going to get the points needed for Greenwich.  But when he graduated…  why should he not aim for a front of camera role?  He’d found out that Channel 4’s remit to S&V had stipulated the use of disabled presenters for the Paralympics.  As none were known, the production company set about recruiting and training new, disabled, presenters.  The chemistry between some of them was so obvious that they trialled and then launched the highly popular Paralympic spin-off ‘The Last Leg’.  

If Adam Hills and Alex Booker can be front of camera, why not me?  My mentee stated.    

But this was not to be.  The use of the past tense is no accident.  He died having lost his courageous battle with cancer.  He was passionate about education and continued to attend school throughout his treatment achieving top grades in his year 11 and sixth form exams.

His funeral was like no other I have ever been to, with well over 500 people attending including many SCWA students and staff.  The photographs displayed – my mentee on the shoulders of his brother at the Reading Festival, for instance – were testament to his determination to live life to the full, and to his family’s total commitment to supporting him in his ambitions.  Some of his friends spoke, as did members of the SCWA special needs support team.  Everyone cried, everyone laughed.  It was an exceptionally life-affirming experience. 

Let me go back to that statement from that first mentors briefing;  “ Your life experience and contacts can raise students’ aspirations and sharing them with interested students really is a no brainer.”  Their sights are raised, and their perspective changes.  It is the least we can do for any mentee.

But as mentor I gained too, in trumps.  I commend the programme to you. 

James Benn – 31 August 2017.

Stationers’ Hall has always been a place of debate and today is no exception with our round table events provoking discussion and often presenting two sides of an argument. One recent Digital Media Group event was a presentation on 3D printing and Members may recall the detailed report on the event from Past Master John Waterlow  in the April 2017 edition of Stationers’ News. This was just the Company’s latest foray into exploring 3D printing.

Back in 2013, Liveryman John Charnock wrote a thought piece for the website about 3D Printing and followed it with a DMG roundtable in 2014 at which a 3D printing device was on show. Even before that, Liveryman Peter Day spoke about 3D printing at the Charter Dinner in 2011. 

Clearly this new technology has inspired the interest of a number of Stationers.  But is it really part of the Communications and Content industry?  We asked two members, Liveryman James Duckenfield of Hobs and Court Assistant Robert Flather of Kolbus to answer this question and they have come up with very different views. Have a read and then why not use the comments facility to add to the debate? 

James says

"Is 3D print part of the communications and marketing industry?

2D print is clearly thought of as part of the industry. There are times that is not. Printing a solid block of colour for a wrapper or printing a geometric wallpaper but there are many applications of 2D print that are clearly in the communications and marketing space.

3D print is no different. There are times where 3D print is additive manufacturing of parts that would be uneconomical or impossible to create using other methods. There are many applications of 3D print that are clearly in the communications and marketing space.

3D models, for example, bring complex drawings to life in a way that clearly communicates. Take the recent regeneration of Victoria station in London as an example. A complex set of sub-terrestrial tunnels interweave and change elevation. Depicting changes to tunnels or additions to tunnels with a set of 2D drawings is an incredibly challenging task. 3D Printing out the finished project and colour coding the additions and changes allows one to instantly understand and communicate this complex project.

hobsimage

It is rare for a marketing suite for a building development not to have a 3D contextual model. Potential customers want to understand where unit are in the development. The model allows the marketor to communicate more effectively than the alternative of using a book of drawings.

Outside the models space, prototypes, design concepts, art and marketing merchandise are all frequent uses of 3D print that are more effective methods of communication and marketing in the right circumstances. The answer to the question is clear."

Robert says

"Why additive manufacturing isn’t printing?

Additive manufacturing is a transformative engineering technology which allows physical products to be manufactured which cannot be economically made by another process. It has huge potential in the fields of prototyping, medical implants tailored to the individual and in creating shapes which cannot be manufactured using conventional techniques. It also has potential in reducing stock holdings where a large uneconomic batch must be processed just to supply a small quantity. It can even be used for art! The wide range of materials which can be processed gives it enormous potential for development. But is it printing?

Printing is a two dimensional process for reproducing using ink, text and images using a master form or template. Nowadays this master is often in an electronic digital form but the principle still applies. In Stationers' parlance this is best defined as content and communication and the end product is text and images in ink on a substrate.

Additive Manufacturing is a three dimensional process for reproducing in a wide range of materials, products using a digital file. Traditional engineering, metal cutting and forming processes have been using this 3 D technology in reverse for decades and this is just yet another manufacturing option. The only common feature is that there is a digital file required but there the similarity ends. The end product of this process is the object itself and not just the text and images on the surface.

The battleground:-

  • 2D v 3D
  • Ink v Range of materials
  • Text and image on a substrate v the object itself

Using the Stationers' own definition of our industries as content and communications it is quite clear that this process falls outside our remit. Additive manufacturing is clearly part of the engineering industry and is incorrectly labelled as a printing process."

Since 2014, Adam Matthew have been working on the digitisation of the Stationers’ Archive.  The originals of the digitised items will from now on be handled and consulted less (thus reducing the opportunity for damage and deterioration) but academics, and indeed the public, will be able to refer to the digitised version much more easily.  We asked Claudine Nightingale to tell us more about the firm and their work.

It has taken many months but the Company has now reached an agreement with the Diocese of London to manage the Church of St Martin within Ludgate.This beautiful church stands close to the site of the west gate (Ludgate) in the Roman and medieval city walls of the city of London. It is dedicated to St Martin of Tours, who was a soldier and a patron saint of beggars thanks to the story that he cut his cloak in two in order to share it with a freezing beggar.

Members will be aware that the Company has an Honorary Almoner.  The Almoner, like many of those who work within the committees of the Company, undertakes the role for three years and last summer Mike Clark took over from Robert Sanger.  Big shoes to fill indeed!  We asked Mike about the work he does and initially to give an overview of the almoner's role.  

Liveryman Paddy Belton is a journalist working for, amongst others, the BBC, Standard and Poor and the Spectator. His specialist fields include technology, economics, banks, cybersecurity, Ukraine, Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Arab world, Northern Ireland, UK and Irish politics, paramilitaries, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Hamas, scoundrels, rogues, Irish fiction and even the odd theatre review.

 

We are all becoming increasingly aware of how the internet can allow us to remotely control our heating systems or how cars can be guided to their destinations without the need for drivers etc., but these are just the tip of the IoT iceberg! We are grateful to Liverymen Janet Bell and Steve Hilleard of OPI for permission to link through to Michelle Sturman’s fascinating article. 

At what age did you realise you wanted a career in food and where did you train?

It was no longer than 12 years ago, when I decided to cook for a living. Since I was a teenager I was trying my luck in the kitchen. It was a hobby to begin with, more than a passion. I always enjoyed cooking, first for my parents, then for friends and it stayed like that. I was working in many restaurants working my way up and I was really lucky because I was working with really good chefs and they were always happy to train me.

In the office supplies industry and especially in the world of b2b, mobile has always been seen as a channel that is under invested, and it is still true today that the Office Supplies industry under indexes in mobile traffic in comparison to other e-retail industries.

The Office Power (part of the EO Group, a Stationers’ Corporate Member,  and sister company of Euroffice) are experts in the office products market .  They recently issued the following piece on Branding and as you will see it has nuggets of information, ideas and interest for anyone, regardless of their industry sector.

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