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Celebrating Excellence in Compassion

Kris Harrold, General Manager at FACET, won the Leading Change, Adding Value Award for Compassion at the Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards 2019.

FACET is so many things to so many different people. Essentially, we are an education centre for adults with a very wide range of learning disabilities, but we mean much more than that to the local community, the students and the friends and families of each and every person who attends.

FACET was set up back in 2002 as a charity. We acquired a former day centre/typical village hall venue and began to offer a few limited activities, such as reading sessions or artwork projects, for a handful of local adults with learning disabilities.

Over time, a hugely ambitious Chair Person has taken this run-down, unloved building and, through hard work and limitless dedication, has rejuvenated the place to accommodate almost 140 students offering over 20 different classes.

These classes are devised around assisting those who most need help, motivation, specialist support and a personalised teaching method, all of which is achieved by the amazing staff team here who help our students reach the highest potential they possibly can.

FACET classes

Our unique classes take a traditionally ‘college-based’ subject and blend in a combination of lessons in life skills and real-life scenarios to help the students strive towards their goals and outcomes and live the happiest, most confident and independent lives they may be able to reach.

On a local level, FACET has significantly helped reduce what seems to be an ever-increasing divide between the world of ‘real’ work opportunities and challenges the world offers to someone with a learning disability.

We offer not just one but four charity shops, a state-of-the-art woodwork studio which produces the most amazing products to sell to the public both online and face-to-face, as well as having a very well-run community garden centre. Most of these things take place on the same site as the classroom-based sessions, therefore offering routine and a secure, safe environment in which each student can face real-world challenges at their own individual pace and at a support level which suits them personally.

This combination of highly-thought-through, modern approaches to working with our students has seen FACET produce some truly amazing results; these range from paid employment being achieved and registered ‘gateway’ qualifications being gained regularly throughout the year, to partnerships being developed between FACET and some large national organisations which typically wouldn’t be associated with a small standalone charity organisation.

Reaching out

Winning the Markel 3rd Sector Care Award has given FACET a platform to allow others – on a far wider scale than we could ever hope to reach alone – the opportunity to see what can be achieved when that all-too-rare combination of a driven, modern, focused staff group teams up with an equally amazing student base.

FACET’s motto is, and always will be, ‘We focus on ability, not disability’ and never will anyone stay truer to its core value than we do. Even being presented with a fabulous opportunity like this to talk about FACET and what we do could never really let me paint a picture of how the atmosphere and feeling of the place touches all those who visit.

The following quote is from a parent of a FACET student. Words such as these being passed on to my staff team really do make all of the dedication and hard work we put into this unbelievable job feel worth it:

‘FACET is very well-named because it caters for every facet of its students’ needs: physical, emotional, social, intellectual. To walk through the place when it is in session is to experience the caring, focused, absorbed nature of the unique atmosphere created by staff and students alike – you could be walking down the corridor of any, more mainstream college!

‘The sincerity of the welcomes and farewells each morning and afternoon are a tribute to the happy spirit of the place and the sense of belonging shared by all. The students are treated as the complex, serious people they and we all are. My wife and I are so grateful that FACET exists.

‘When FACET states that it focuses on ability, it is stating the truth.’

A growing enterprise

FACET is a charity that never plans to settle or rest on what we have already been able to achieve. In 2019, we listened to our students and those closest to them about how we could assist in even more goals being reached. This resulted in us tirelessly working to raise funds for a new IT suite mobile classroom which has just been added to our site.

In 2020, we are exploring opportunities of more innovative ideas which will see us expand into other areas of the Fens (Cambridgeshire) allowing more thoroughly-deserving adults with learning disabilities the chance to have fun, learn, achieve, make friends, establish working opportunities and even get fit with the FACET twist to these things.

On a personal level, winning this award has been the most humbling thing which has happened to me. I moved into this line of work after suffering with a brain tumour at the age of just 21, which thankfully, after surgery and radiotherapy, I was able to recover from. At the time, I was a financial adviser, determined to make it to the top in the banking industry. It was amazing how, in one day of finding out this terrible news, achieving that dream no longer meant anything to me – all that mattered was facing the long battle to get back to full health.

During my lengthy recovery period, I began to help out at a local care home to pass the time and, in all honesty, it gave me a reason to get dressed and out of the house each day at a time when I was unable to drive. However, in just a short space of time I realised that other careers seem quite irrelevant once you’ve been given the chance to actually help someone, rather than simply make sure their money is invested in the best way.

The rest, as they say, is history. Taking on copious amounts of time studying for qualifications, courses, training and meeting some amazing people along my journey in this fantastic sector led me to where I am today, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Thank you to everyone who gave me the chance.

Kris Harrold is General Manager at FACET. Email: Facebook:

The Markel 3rd Sector Care Awards is run specifically for the voluntary care and support sector.

With thanks to our supporters: National Care Forum, Learning Disability England, The Care Provider Alliance, Association of Mental Health Providers and VODG.

The Compassion Award was sponsored by #TeamCNO

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