Last month, our news correspondent David Allkins took part in the National Council of Voluntary Organisations' 'A Day in the Life' Work Shadow scheme, an initiative that provides a unique opportunity for staff from government and voluntary organisations to step into each other's shoes for a day and learn about how the other sector operates.

He was paired with Tania Turner from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) in Plymouth. We asked them how they got on.

When Tania met David

"My name is Tania Turner and I work for the DWP in Plymouth as a team leader within the Child Maintenance Group (CMG).

"I volunteered to take part in the NCVO's Work Shadow initiative and was lucky enough to be paired with David Allkins, who works at United Response in their Truro office.

Creating accessible news

"I learnt a great deal during my visit to Truro, and spent the day putting together two articles for the easy read news magazine Easy News.

"It was clear to see how dedicated everyone was and how valuable the news magazine is for people who have difficulties understanding complex news issues. I certainly learnt more about the EU Referendum than at any time before, and it also helped me to understand the importance of creating accessible news.

Continuous improvement

"David then spent a day in my office in Plymouth, which I hope he enjoyed. I know he was surprised at the size of the office and the number of employees. David was well prepared and asked lots of questions, which was excellent.

"We spent the day looking at the organisation structure, some training events and the importance of 'continuous improvement'.

"This was a really worthwhile experience and I would definitely recommend taking up the opportunity as it gives you the chance to have an insight into a different working environment. I would love to do something like this again and wish everyone well at United Response – thank you for such an informative day."

Tania Turner, DWP, CMG.

When David met Tania

"The notion of gaining an insight into how a government department works really made me want to sign up to the NCVO's A Day in the Life scheme. I was matched with Tania Turner from the Plymouth branch of the DWP, not far from my home in Newquay, Cornwall.

"After corresponding, we decided that Tania would visit me first and take part in a session to translate the news stories for inclusion in our accessible magazine Easy News.

"On the day, I showed Tania around and introduced her to the staff in the United Response Truro office. We showed Tania how the UR Consultants make the news accessible by translating the stories using text and images to make them easier to digest. In the translation session, we were tackling the subject of the EU Referendum, which can be a very difficult subject. Tania was taken through how we researched and chose pictures for the text.

Reasonable adjustments

"One thing that came up in discussion was the importance of making reasonable adjustments for staff. This involves acknowledging that not everybody will instantly understand or be comfortable with the schedule, information or social structure of the work environment.

"Sometimes the new person may need written information in a different format, or they may have difficulty socialising or could need to have time on their own if they were feeling stressed.

"Making reasonable adjustments can be really valuable to a new staff member who may need more help to fit into a work environment. 

Discovering similarities

"After showing Tania some of the work that we do at United Response, it was her turn to show me the work that she does. The building in Plymouth is a massive structure with about 12,000 people working there.

"I picked up on a few similarities between our workplaces during my visit to Plymouth. As organisations, we both support individuals on a case-by-case basis. We also provide continuous development and training opportunities for staff.

"I really enjoyed my day. It was very interesting and a pleasure to meet Tania."

David Allkins, UR Consultant and news correspondent, United Response.

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