The North East HUB caught up with Allison Livingstone (originally from Whitley Bay) for an interview to talk about her company OAG Consultants fresh from her win of the Theo Paphitis #sbs award. Read what she had to say below.
1. Firstly who are OAG Consultants?
"OAG Consultants is a training and consultancy company based in Hull. We deliver training and consultancy to any sector of industry that come into contact with people who have disabilities. I have a background in child care, child development, residential care, teaching adults both with and with out disabilities. I hold certificates in Child Development, Special Education, British Sign Language, Teaching certificates and am currently working towards a Master Degree in Education Development Change and Management. So there is a lot of academic knowledge mixed with nearly 20 years of experience."
2. What do you aim to achieve?
"Our aim is quite simply to raise the positive aspects of disability to the public. We do this primarily through training on disability awareness, but we can also do a specific course for our clients that will be more focussed on their own difficulties in the work place either as an employer or as a retailer/service provider."
3. What are the services you offer?
"When I started the company we were primarily looking to train care sector employees, but soon realised that if the care sector need the training then so would all other industries. So we re-made the website and now deliver training to anyone and everyone as people with disabilities are accessing all public places and finding that they are give a second rate service by most places at best, there are a number of companies with excellent provision and these are benefitting from this by having repeat custom and delivering a service that is recognised as good or excellent by all of its patrons not just those who have a disability."
"In addition to this we offer training in behaviour; how to spot an escalation of behaviour before it happens as well as understanding and being confident in using techniques to reduce the impact of challenging behaviour on other customers and staff members. The consultancy side of the company looks at and helps mostly day nurseries and other child care facilities with all of the mandatory paperwork that is required to run a successful child care setting. We can also design and implement a curriculum that suits the individual settings or just look through what is already in place and strengthen it."
4. Who can benefit from these services?
"Any business can benefit from our services. Trained staff will stay with a company longer which at the very least will enable staff to develop good working relationships with customers, and at most reduce the training budget for the company as a refresher course is cheaper than a full training course. Trained staff will work better as a team and that will increase outputs. The benefits to the business also include more repeat custom, more new customers through word of mouth promotions which results in a higher profile in the industry. People with disabilities will benefit from our services as more companies will be able to offer a better quality of service with the added bonus of more disability awareness in the general public as the staff members who have taken part in our training become members of the public when they leave work."
5. You are originally from Newcastle, now in Hull, which areas of the UK do you cover?
"I am an original Geordie lass, born in Whitley Bay, grew up in Ponteland and then lived at Kingston Park for almost 20 years. Now I live in Hull with my partner. I came down here for work, but as the letters of my company name indicate Once A Geordie always a Geordie. We deliver courses across the country. One of the advantages of this is that we can keep costs low, and more staff can attend courses if there are less travel and accommodation costs. It also means the courses last the stated hours so less cover needs to be found."
6. You recently won the Theo Paphitis #sbs award, how does that feel?
"The Theo Paphitis award was a very welcome surprise. I never expected to win; most of the winners produce something or provide a tangible service for their customers. What we do is important but our customers leave us with knowledge and strategies, possible a different way of thinking or perceiving ideas. Although these things are important they are less tangible, you cannot see them or touch them, but they will stay with you forever, or at least parts of it will. I was a wonderful feeling to be recognized and picked out of over 1500 small businesses from that week. Since the win I have had press coverage in the local newspaper, been able to reach more people, and have met some wonderful people all striving to make them selves and their businesses work for them."
"As a business person I have a lot to learn the SBS win has shown me that I am not the only person who feels this way. Theo has given me a lot of top tips to help and through the SBS winners club I have gained some wonderful advice & lots of new friends. Best networking experience ever!"
7. Anyone you would like to thank for their support?
"People to thank. I could go on and on about all of the people who have taught me things during my life, but I will spare you the lists. I should say a big thank you to some very special people though, my partner Steve who has designed my website…twice, and supported me to live the dream, and my children who still both live and work in the North East."
OAG Consultants is based in East Yorkshire. Our aim is to promote disability in a positive way and train people to understand the needs of others which in turn will increase awareness and a positive attitude. We do this by delivering a range of courses to all industries in regard to employees, employers and customer rights, communicating effectively, understanding behaviours, and we can look at accessibility and how to make the environment more welcoming. In addition to this we also offer training for care staff and nursery staff to recognise disabilities and challenging behaviours. We visit settings and observe staff doing their job, and then design training based on what we see. This makes it far more useful and builds on current work practices.
To ensure consistency we supply every setting with a CD containing all of the course work covered in the session and every person attending will receive a certificate of attendance.
In light of the Theo Paphitis win we are offering all new customers a second course of the same length at no cost. Currently our courses are very good value and this offer enables our new customers the opportunity to have two courses for the price of one, or a full day course for half price. Although the cost of the course is free there may be some travel or accommodation costs to consider.
As well as the courses we deliver we are also able to help care and nursery setting with policy writing and/or curriculum development. In nursery settings we can also provide a pre-inspection report, in readiness for OFSTED. This is not a substitute for inspection nor will it be a guarantee of the grade assessed by OFSTED but can be used to highlight any areas of concern or areas that need to be addressed.
Address: OAG Consultants, 40 Mayfield Street, Hull, East Yorkshire, HU3 1NS
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