St Petrocs have shown a long-term commitment to investing in their people. Achieving Gold in these most challenging of times is a huge testament and credit to every member of the team.

Paul Devoy, CEO IIP

The year is 2005. YouTube has just launched, Tony Christie and Peter Kay are about to spend 7 weeks at number one, and after a 16-year hiatus, Dr Who is revived by the BBC. Meanwhile in Cornwall, St Petrocs is about to celebrate its 19th year. We have just four properties with 24 available bedspaces and one drop-in service available in Truro, as well as an outreach project and a rent deposit scheme. These services are delivered by a team of about 30 employees.

A clipping from the West Briton newspaper, dated 11 August 2005, marking St Petrocs first IIP award.In March of that year, we were proudly recognised as an ‘Investor in People’ employer for the first time. As Steve Ellis (Chief Executive) said of the award, “We have a committed staff that delivers a range of services to an extremely vulnerable group of people in difficult and challenging circumstances. It’s through supporting and caring for our staff that we are able to operate effectively. In fact, it’s the high calibre of our staff that has made Investors in People happen for us.”

Operationally, much has changed in the 16 years since. Soon after receiving our accreditation, we took over the Breadline Centre in Penzance, expanding our drop-in services to cover the West of the county, and in 2007, we began operating an emergency overnight shelter during the coldest months of the year – a life-saving service that has run every winter since.

Today, our accommodation services have grown sixfold – we now have 21 properties with 145 available bedspaces – and this year we introduced our newest service, a project working to address root causes of homelessness by helping our residents take gainful steps towards employment.

Despite all this change, our commitment to improving the way we manage, develop, and lead our people remains unswerving, and we are truly overjoyed to have received the ‘Gold Award’ this year. This tremendous achievement underscores St Petrocs’ positive working culture, driven by strong core values, a clear purpose, and a motivated, competent, and committed staff group.

For us, the Investors in People accreditation has always been about continual improvement. With the encouragement and support of our assessor Carolyn, we have been able to take positive steps forward each year. In 2018, when we were awarded Silver for the first time, it was clear that our biggest opportunity to improve was finding ways to support change more effectively and create sustainable success.

St Petrocs has always been busy, and always will be – but rather than being led by or reacting to change (as was sometimes the case), we realised we needed to be more proactive, leading and managing the change through periods of intense development and growth. 

Of course, no-one could have predicted the seismic changes that were about to be thrust upon us by a global health crisis, but armed with the insight from our work with Investors in People, the pandemic actually enabled accelerated development, creativity and innovation across all areas of the organisation.

By moving quickly in a competitive landscape, we successfully brought in over £500k of grant funding to ensure all our services could remain open. We also extended our opening hours and provided services seven days a week so that we could see everybody safely. And for the first time, we delivered our emergency winter shelter as a dispersed service, utilising local B&Bs and hotels. Despite so many individuals being pushed into homelessness by the impact of COVID-19, we were able to ensure that everyone we worked with had a safe place to stay and observe the lockdown.

And in the midst of it all, against a national landscape of financial instability, with many businesses and charities downsizing or closing their doors altogether, we grew by over 25%. We now have more than 60 staff working together tirelessly to ensure we can provide the best quality of service possible to those individuals facing homelessness.

Over the last 20 months we have perhaps seen more change than in our last 20 years, but because of our strong culture, communication, teamwork, and leadership, we have seen marked improvements across many areas of our assessment. Perhaps most tellingly, our highest rated indicator is now ‘Creating Sustainable Success’, and over 95% of our people feel that we embrace change and have a clear and positive plan for the future.

St Petrocs is thinking ahead with clear and positive plans for the future. There is a strong recognition that staff need the very best care and support to, in turn, support the people who are their clients.

Carolyn Inger, IIP Practitioner

Together, we celebrate this amazing recognition in the knowledge that we cannot rest on our laurels – there is still much work to do. Our ambition is to end homelessness in Cornwall, and our journey with Investors in People will undoubtedly play a role in our success.

With an action plan in place, we head into 2022. We might not know exactly what lies ahead, but, as our assessor Carolyn said, “Whatever happens in the future, people are central.” We couldn’t agree more.

Read the full comments from Carolyn, IIP Practitioner and Paul, IIP Chief Executive on our reports page.

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