On behalf of OneSpirit Trustees, Cathy Slow offers the following reflection as she steps down from Chair of Trustees. She writes:
Since joining the OneSpirit trustees, almost four years ago, I have been part of an outward looking and developing organisation. It has been a huge privilege to work with OneSpirit, particularly as chair of trustees, to be part of the team that steers the organisation, working the wider team of faculty and staff, holding our ministers and students and our core spiritual purpose at the heart of all we do.
As I step down from the role of chair, on behalf of myself and my fellow trustees, I want to pay tribute to the remarkable list of achievements of our staff and faculty in the last twelve months, a testament to their hard work and dedication.
There was the launch of our ambitious new strategic plan in May 2018, marking the culmination of over 12 months’ detailed deliberations and careful planning. For us as trustees, this was a landmark moment, setting the organisation’s direction and our commitment to our core purpose and priorities over the four years until 2022. A special mention must go to Nicola Coombe, under whose dedicated leadership as Focaliser these initiatives were nurtured and given shape.
This year saw faculty say goodbye to the role of mentors and embrace the first team of group tutors. Our thanks go to these pioneers, and also to the long line of mentors who have given so much to the OneSpirit and our students over the years.
A new and streamlined enrolment process was implemented, along with the launch of two new training options with the addition of the residential course in Northern Ireland and the entirely new Online course. Our thanks go to the whole of faculty and staff for rising to the challenge of planning and implementing these new courses so quickly.
In the midst of this, the team managed to launch a completely new website with a renewed focus on training, along with a major overhaul of our social media channels and digital presence - special thanks to Amy Firth for her vision and creative direction in leading this work.
It would also be easy to forget the challenge of ensuring the organisation was ready for the General Data Protection Regulation 2018, that required significant information and process audits and a complete overhaul of the way in which the organisation manages the data we keep - which in turn required the development of a new database to manage our graduate minister records. Again, our thanks to all for the huge effort which ensured regulatory compliance with this new framework.
There was the move to a new payment platform to improve our students’ experience of our payment systems and to support the new enrolment processes, and the relaunch and rebranding of the ministers’ professional body as ROSIM - this topped off by another new website dedicated to raising their profile and promoting their work.
The autumn of 2018 also saw the launch of the OneSpirit Virtual Hub and the Student Record System (SRS). These two new significant offerings will enhance our students’ experience as learners with OneSpirit and make it easier for faculty to give them the best possible support.
Lastly, there is the extraordinary achievement of more than doubling our intake in the first year of our new strategy. This growth has placed pressure on our resources, as most of our students pay their fees over extended payment plans of up to 60 months, so for the next two financial years our expenditure is growing faster than our income. This will level off in 2020-21, and while our reserves will allow us to absorb the additional costs during this period, it does mean that we have had to take some difficult decisions. Our deepest thanks go to staff and faculty for the spirit in which they have responded to these challenges. We appreciate the sacrifice that individual members of staff have made and the dedication of our wonderful team of tutors who have understood the need for significant changes in the way they work while ensuring that our students continue to get the very best training we can provide.
In October, recognising the need for the Executive leadership structure to be more explicit both internally and externally, the Trustees appointed the Faculty Lead and Operations Manager to the roles of Director of Education and Director of Operations respectively.
We have much to be proud of and much yet to achieve but it is vital we celebrate our successes. We are not always good at singing our own praises so let’s be mindful to hold ourselves in compassion and offer a prayer of gratitude for all that has been achieved. We know that there are demanding challenges ahead, and yet we feel encouraged by the sense of unity, commitment and shared purpose with which we face the future.
In friendship and gratitude,