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Case Studies

“Listening to Helen made me realise that I knew all the theory, but I was not putting it into practise”

Sarah Shinnick – New College Manchester
IMG_4448Sarah is Academic Director at New College Manchester, where she’s in charge of the English as a Foreign Language (EFL) department. Working closely with the Director of Studies, together they manage three senior teachers and up to 30 EFL teachers depending on the time of year.

“Before I even met Helen, I knew I wanted to create a Coaching Culture and high performing teams in the EFL Department and eventually across the college.  I was funded to train as a coach in order to make this happen.

“After that I then went on an English UK training day – on Managing Appraisals – which was run by Helen.  Listening to her made me realise that I knew all the theory, but I wasn’t putting it into practise.

“I asked her if she was also a coach and then arranged one-to-one sessions with her; this helped me put theory into practise.

“Working with Helen has helped me focus my thoughts and put them into action. Progress is good but slow due to the daily demands of my job.

“Helen has been back to New College to run training sessions for senior staff which has helped to feed into my objectives and I have now been given responsibility for developing the idea of high performing teams across the college, not just within my own department.

“Through Helen’s involvement, I have been able to start a process of change at NCM, and made staff aware of the need to work towards becoming a high performing team.”

  • Helen’s work at New College Manchester also included a pre-inspection audit and working with another member of staff, as well as delivering leadership training.


Emmaus Communities enable people to move on from homelessness, providing work and a home in a supportive, family environment. Companions (as residents are known) work full-time, collecting renovating and reselling donated furniture. This work supports the Community financially and enables residents to develop skills, rebuild their self-respect and help others in greater need.

Companions receive accommodation, food, clothing and a small weekly allowance, but for many, the greatest benefit is a fresh start.  To join a Community, they sign off unemployment benefits and agree to participate in the life and work of the Community and abide by its rules, for example not bringing drugs or alcohol into the Community. A newly-established community in Hinckley, Leicestershire was undertaking a feasibility study for a new retail outlet selling second-hand clothing, household and bric-a-brac items.

HJC Associates, led by managing director Helen Chambers, was commissioned to investigate an additional revenue source for the proposed Emmaus retail trading project at Stockwell Head, Hinckley; the aim of the trustees was to provide an income of £50,000 by the third year of operation.

“We were asked to investigate whether a viable operation for this income stream is to establish a sandwich/snack delivery system for commercial premises in the Hinckley area, using the kitchen facilities at the Emmaus community in Ashby Road, Hinckley. We were also asked to offer alternative options for a similar income if the proposed ‘sandwich service’ operation was not considered a viable option

“Importantly, we had to ensure that the commercial operation was in keeping with the Emmaus values and brand integrity, and did not interfere unduly with community life. Up to £20,000 was available to fund the start-up enterprise, which would be expected to break even after 12 months and be in profit by the end of year three.

“Our experience in recognising the resources and management skills, as well as marketing and communication talents, needed to work successfully and profitably across a variety of industries, meant that HJC Associates was well-placed to offer a comprehensive range of options to Emmaus.

As well as tackling practical commercial problems, HJC Associates identifies the challenges that small and medium size businesses, and organisations in the third sector, face when needing to balance income generation with a resource constraints and limited funding.

“Our recommendation was to develop a coffee shop and take-away within the planned retail outlet and to use a number of traditional and contemporary marketing techniques that were detailed in our final report.”