Here at Shine, working after cancer has always been a core part of the work that we do. We’ve long been aware that our Shine community is full of talented people who are often un- or under-employed because of a cancer diagnosis or treatment. That’s why we were delighted to meet David and Steve Shutts, the brains behind a new initiative called ASTRiiD which aims to pair up people living with cancer who need flexible or part-time work, with companies that need talented people but don’t need them 9 to 6pm in an office. It’s win-win!
The ASTRiiD team have written a blog below which we’re delighted to share. Over the coming months we’ll be partnering with them as they launch ASTRiiD and begin connecting people with cancer with some great companies. If you want to know more, pop on over to their website or follow our Facebook or Twitter for updates!
The choice of career available to most school leavers today is simply staggering compared to David Shutts’s own experience 35 years ago. For him, it was a life in the armed forces that beckoned, so he joined the Royal Navy aged 20 and became a Marine Engineer Officer where he served on a dozen different ships and travelled large parts of the world.
Aged 45, he thought it was time for a second career, this time in industry, and he was enjoying his professional life. Then suddenly, he was diagnosed with stage four kidney cancer. Incurable and inoperable, this diagnosis set the course for what will be David’s newest stage of life. Now, two years after his diagnosis, David is pioneering a project that will transform the lives of thousands of fellow cancer patients across the UK.
“There is only one way to approach this situation” David suggests, “and that is to make the most of every day available. It’s a bum deal but that’s what it is. Accept it and get on with making the most of what’s left.”
And this is why David has founded a project he calls ASTRiiD.
ASTRiiD aims to connect people who have long-term illnesses, but who also have plenty of skills and experience, with businesses that need an injection of talent and expertise.
“Holding down a permanent job can be a massive challenge for people with cancer and other serious health problems,” said David. “Yet many people still want – and need – to work. And don’t think, just because you’re young, that you don’t have what’s needed. I can assure you that there are many businesses out there where the ability to learn counts just as much as any formal qualification.”
ASTRiiD, which stands for Available Skills for Training, Refreshing, Improvement, Innovation and Development, is underpinned by technology from the IT partner, Salesforce. “ASTRIID epitomises modern commerce; there are no long winded application forms – we are doing everything on line through our website and are proud to be working alongside a leader in this field”.
As well as providing heavily discounted licences to run the website, Salesforce (which is also supporting Shine) has pulled together a pro bono team to help David deliver the project.
“I call the members of this community the ‘Invisible Talent Pool’ as currently they are invisible to business and business is invisible to them. Through ASTRiiD I want to make the invisible visible.”
“By helping people find meaningful work, we hope to be able to boost an individual’s self-esteem and self-confidence.”
The demand side of ASTRiiD is provided by the UK skills gap, the term given to address how companies struggle to find the right people with the skills, experience and attitude they need to grow their business.
“There is a vast demand for skills out there. Our business landscape is dominated by micro-, small – and medium-sized businesses, all of whom at some point will need help to let them grow and prosper.”
“I speak from experience,” says David, “without question my health has deteriorated over the last two and half years since my diagnosis in May 2015. But working on ASTRiiD and keeping busy has helped m maintain my mojo and my feeling of self worth and I know I’m in a much better place as a result of having meaningful work than I would have been if I’d had nothing to keep my mind and body active.”
“The beauty of ASTRiiD is that with the right connections we are supporting individual members, UK business and making sure that we stop ignoring a huge community of talented people.”
“That’s got to be the right course to steer.” says David.
Please take a look at ASTRiiD’s website for more information. You’ll be able to register and summarise your talent and experience and, importantly, let employers know just how much work you can manage). ASTRiiD’s matching process will then look to find those roles that you are best suited to, always keeping you in control of the communication so that you are only made ‘visible’ when you are ready.