In recent months, NLP4Kids has set up a not-for-profit branch to the company. This has allowed us to begin to access funding to deliver our services to schools, without the schools having to pay for it. You’d have thought they would be biting off our hand to get it – However this has not exactly been the case.
The services we provide include workshops and one to one sessions for pupils but also for parents and teachers. Our work centres around emotional and mental well-being, typically supporting young people with anxiety, lack of confidence and developing social skills.
Over the last few years we have heard many schools tell us that they are desperate for the support and services we offer, but that financing it is always an obstacle. We listened to their concerns and those of our own practitioners who echoed the challenge in getting their services into schools for the same reason. This is why we were so excited to launch our new social enterprise, which has access to funding – meaning that we can offer our services to schools without them having to dip into their budget.
To launch the funded work, we first contacted 50 schools in Hemel Hempstead – the location of our head office. We sent out our usual eye-catching letters and followed up with a phone call, resulting in a 14% conversion of schools booking an appointment with the company director – not too shabby. All of the schools were suitably excited by the offer of the programmes and were given a simple application form to complete to access it. Three weeks later and guess how many have eagerly sent back their application forms? None. Now in fairness, we know that teachers/head teachers/SENCOs are busy – extremely busy and that they perhaps pressured to feel there are greater priorities than accessing thousands of pounds to help their children with their emotional well-being and behaviour. In fairness, as this was a new process for us too, we didn’t think about giving them deadlines to send the forms back and realised that moving forward this would probably be helpful so that everyone’s attention was directed to a point in time.
Meanwhile, having realised that our letters created the desired reaction, we sent them again with exactly the same offer to schools in Manchester but with a new back end process that would ensure they wouldn’t fizzle away at the point of completing the application form. Only one school responded upon receipt of the letter so we hoped that the follow up phone calls would capture them a little better.
They didn’t. When Marie (our office administrator) reported back to me that none of the schools wanted the free funding I thought we must be communicating badly. We sent them each a second letter with a bold headline stating that they had rejected £7,500 of funding. That if they had made this decision in haste or error, it wasn’t too late to take up the offer.
So we went brutal with a final round of phone calls.
“Hello I’m calling from NLP4Kids. We have written to you twice offering £7,500 of funding for the school. As you have not accepted it, can you confirm that the school does not want this money and that you are happy for us to offer it to a different school?”
When they said yes, we asked: “Can I just take your name as confirmation that you are rejecting this money?”
I’d love to believe that this means all pupils in Manchester schools are confident, resilient and well behaved. I don’t believe that this is the case though. What I actually believe is that the receptionists are also very busy and somewhat caught in a “No” mentality. The downside of that, is that it’s preventing the school from taking up great opportunities when they come along. The answer has always been ‘no’ so the answer continues to be ‘no.’
You can relate to this I’m sure. A while back I seemed to be getting bombarded with cold calls and mail, offering me loans and asking if I’d recently been in an accident. When I got a phone call from my late fathers bank to tell me that they had a PPI repayment of his that I had inherited, I was initially suspicious and somewhat unenthusiastic about going through the interview. However, having given it a moment of my attention I quickly realised this was someone I should be speaking to and an opportunity I’d be wise to take.
We’ll keep looking at our process for capturing the schools attention and we’ll keep trying to find new ways to get them to take this funding for our services. Until then if you know a school who would benefit from accessing the services of NLP4Kids without having to pay for it then let us know!
In addition, if you’d like to find out if your school has already rejected the funding from us, please get in touch.
Tel: 0345 3192666