Michele Ward is the Project Coordinator for New Beginnings. This Sheffield based organisation supports asylum seekers and refugees as they integrate into Sheffield life. The clients at New Beginnings are provided with educational courses, mentoring, employment and volunteering opportunities. As they participate in the programmes and opportunities, the refugees and asylum seekers are able to learn more about the city and adapt to their lives there. In addition, the New Beginnings team aims to ensure that all of their clients feel respected and valued as members of the community.

Due to the diversity of the clients and employees at New Beginnings, Michele, and her team, are constantly interacting with different cultures and beliefs. Therefore, Michele registered to participate in the first pilot of the InterMED training programme in the UK in March and April 2019. Michele was hoping to become more skilled at managing cultural differences in the workplace. Michele was eager to pass this knowledge on to her team in order for them to become better equipped at managing cultural differences, and therefore working at New Beginnings.

Michele found the training programme beneficial to her role as Project Coordinator. In particular, she highlighted the applicability of the Beyond the Differences module. During this module, she was able to think about the way she communicates with her team and develop a stronger understanding of how to communicate in a culturally sensitive manner. Just like other participants of the training programme, Michele became more aware of the cultural expectations she had when communicating with her team and clients.

In addition, Michele believes that change is a necessary component for the development and improvement of both professional and personal life. Therefore, she was willing to implement some of the changes she learnt during the programme into her workplace.

Following on from the training programme, Michele was able to develop stronger teamwork across New Beginnings. In addition, she has been able to encourage her team to think outside the box and become more aware of cultural differences and how to handle these in a professional manner. This has resulted in the New Beginnings team becoming more tenacious.

Michele is passionate about the diversity of New Beginnings and she believes that when cultures are brought together, they can have a positive impact on the organisation. Therefore, she was the ideal participant for the InterMED training programme as she was eager to increase diversity in the workplace and create an intercultural environment.

You can hear more from Michele during her testimonial:

For more information about New Beginnings, check out their website: https://www.vas.org.uk/the-new-beginnings-project/