A network for anyone with an interest in
adult education and mental health

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Virtual secondees to MHFE wanted. Apply now.

Remember when regional mental health network meetings and  other events meant you got regular  time out to find out what was going on, keep up to date with news, share and learn about good practice and were able to discuss issues freely with other people with an interest  in mental health and learning? Well, as a virtual secondee to MHFE those days could be back - the only catch is this time you'll be responsible for making things happen and doing it all online!

Why virtual secondments?

We know that since NIACE and the Skills Funding Agency found that the only way to be able to go on supporting the former regional mental health networks was to do so through an e-project some staff have found it quite difficult to get time to become involved.

As one person said to us recently:

"[It's] an issue that will influence our work in the future.  I gained a huge amount from having the space/time to think via the Leadership/Impact course and networking (old NIACE network, LSIS research).  I could reflect on practice and exchange ideas with others and learn from their practice.  At the moment I don’t even have time to keep up-to-date with MHFE + training opportunities are restricted and not even considered unless they are free because of budget constraints. 

This means I don’t have the space to generate and develop new ideas now – but  I need that space to think and to spark ideas from others.  It is important to me for job satisfaction as well as improving the service to learners.  I am concerned that this issue will influence the quality of what we can offer in the future." 

Thanks to funding from the Skills Funding Agency we are now looking for 9 short -term virtual secondees to the MHFE project.

What do we want to achieve?

The aim of  inviting  a small group of people to be seconded to the project for a few days is of course to strengthen the capacity fo the FE learning and skills sector to improve its provision to support mental health, by:

  • Evidencing to managers,  employers and practitioners the potential benefits of giving staff  the necessary time and support to be able to engage in mental health and learning e-networking CPD opportunities
  • Fostering greater ownership of the MHFE website by the sector 
  • Supporting practitioners to develop the confidence and skills to engage with and create new e-networking opportunities
  • Improving the quality of http://mhfe.org.uk  by setting up a national virtual reference group which will have the direct involvement of practioners
  •  Developing a project delivery model designed to enhance sustainability
  • Developing high quality content and discussion that is accessed by all kinds of FE providers

 What do we want from virtual secondees?

  • A willingness to learn and share with others in developing this project
  • Enthusiasm and ideas for widening our audiences and additional content and activities
  • To lead the development of content and e-activities  in one area of practice - some of which you will translate into action yourself
  • Regular contact with your e-mentor and other virtual secondees
  • Regular contributions on MHFE about how your secondment is going 
  • Your employer/manager's agreement to support you and to 'match' our financial contribution to the cost of your time by allowing you a minimum of 5 days of time between December and April 2012 to work on the project. 
  • Attendance at a compulsory 1 day training session in Leicester in December 2011 - expenses can be covered out of the contribution we will make to your time

What will we give you in return?

  • A really unique opportunity to be part of the MHFE project  team and to demonstrate to your employer/manager/colleagues/learners the potential benefits to your organisation of protected time and support for your continuous professional development in reltion to mental health and learning
  • A free day's training at NIACE in Leicester in December - your chance  to meet the other virtual secondees and us face to face in the real world, as well as a chnce to help plan the project and gain confidence  in doing the technical stuff
  • The freedom to develop an area of work you are interested in on MHFE and to engage others in it
  • The chance to become a member of the project's national practitioner reference group
  • The opportunity to develop (or show off) some of your e-skills
  • Personal development mentoring and support duting the project
  • £500 payment to your employer as a contribution towards the cost of your time and to cover expenses to Leicester

Can you apply for this and the LSIS development project funding?

Yes you can. LSIS and NIACE work closely on their mental health projects and are keen that they are mutually supporting, with built in opportunities for some cross-pollination.

This means, in addition to the £500 contribution NIACE will make towards the cost of your virtual secondment, your employer can use some of the LSIS funding to cover more of cost of your secondment time to MHFE if :

Apply for both. It's  a win:win.

Download the  virtual secondment application form  - it is straightforward to complete and just needs to be submitted by email. The closing date is 12 noon on Monday 28th November 2011.

We look forward to receiving your application.