Meet Andrea Mills, our new Virtual Communities Lead at St Christopher’s CARE
After 25 years devoted to the educational experience of children, Andrea Mills, our new Virtual Communities Lead, has joined the team at St Christopher’s CARE. Andrea’s focus is fixed firmly on creating a journey of learning dedicated to the care of people at the end life that’s enjoyable, engaging and experiential.
Tell me what the job entails, exactly what is a virtual communities lead?
“It’s a new role designed to facilitate the best possible learning experience for all. I’ll be using my knowledge of teaching and integrating that with the expertise of the clinical experts we have here at St Christopher’s to enhance the experience of all learners. On a day to day basis that means working with colleagues internally and externally to create and present educational content that’s consistent in style, engaging and interactive, whether face-to-face or online, really bringing learning to life.
“With online learning now accounting for a large part of our offer I’ll be looking to use all the latest technology, tools and best practice to drive our training products to make them as good as they possibly can be. So, for example, we’ll be using online noticeboards for people to share their learning as well as polls and voting platforms to ensure we both create and use learner feedback.
“As my job title suggests, I’ll also be overseeing the virtual communities of learning we run – including the ECHO programme for care homes. I’ll be looking to help and support the participating homes to take the lead in sharing best practice.”
You talked about bringing your knowledge and experience of teaching to this job – tell us more?
“I’ve worked in education since 1995, much of that time in early years, either at the chalkface or supporting teachers to enhance the education experience. My most recent job was at University College London, as a tutor and lecturer training teachers.
“Putting the learner first has been central to everything I have done. It has to be a genuine partnership, a two-way flow of ideas, knowledge, and communication in which the learning journey is as important as the destination.
“I’m constantly motivated by trying to make the learning experience as accessible, relevant and memorable as possible. I thrive on that challenge.
“I also believe that it’s important that I use the grief and bereavement I have experienced to help others. And in doing so, I am honouring the people I have lost – their memory continues through helping others.”
What attracted you to this role?
“Having worked for years with young children – a really critical phase of life – I was really interested in the prospect of working with people at the other end of life. They are both really important stages in which people are vulnerable, need to be treated sensitively and to receive bespoke support based on individual need.”
How do you feel your role fits into the bigger picture at St Christopher’s CARE?
“With a new building and lots of new members of the team I think there’s a real opportunity for us to work together to make this THE place for people to come to explore death, dying and loss and to share their experiences. I see myself working alongside colleagues on ways to draw people in. That might be working with our Enrichment and Conference Coordinator, Emma Woodhouse, to support the public to explore grief through innovative approaches.”
If we spoke to you in a year’s time, tell us what success would look like to you?
“I think I’d look for three indicators of success. Firstly, I’d like there to be greater awareness of St Christopher’s CARE and the courses and range of learning experiences available. I’d also hope that learner feedback and evaluations indicate that St Christopher’s CARE is providing trailblazing educational experiences. Lastly, I’d like people to see St Christopher’s CARE as a place where they can explore death, dying and grief in a way that is most comfortable for them. These important topics are not often widely discussed in the traditional British culture. I am keen to support others to start and/or continue the discussion about a very natural and important part of life.”