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Project management – delivering with a dispersed team

In the latest in a series of blogs, Lauren Squibb, Weston College’s Business Growth and Employer Partnership Manager, takes a closer look at project management and delivering with a dispersed team:

When Coronavirus came into our lives last Spring, we were exploring a project in Weston-super -Mare and although it changed our approach, it certainly hasn’t stopped us.

In this blog, Somerset Chamber has allowed me to share my experience of creating and delivering a new project throughout 2020 and into 2021, sharing the challenges and successes we’ve faced whilst trying to drive innovation during a global pandemic. 

What is the project?

As an education provider, we are committed to providing work experience opportunities for our students. The challenge in 2020 was finding placements for IT students during Covid when employers were working remotely. At the same time, high streets including Weston were facing significant challenges including empty shops.

We asked ourselves this question…. could we turn this challenge of finding student placements into an opportunity, and work with key local partners to not only solve our problem, but also offer something different for our local high street? The answer was… yes we can!

We decided to transform a former bookshop in the Sovereign Shopping Centre in central Weston into a tech hub called S P A C E B A R, providing a workspace for students to gain work experience, upgrading websites for local businesses who had been affected by the pandemic.

So how did we approach creating S P A C E B A R working with a dispersed team?

Galvanising local stakeholders became our focus, and with significant support from business leaders through the Sovereign Centre, Weston Place Agency, our Business Improvement District, North Somerset Council and the college itself. Creating S P A C E B A R has really tested how collaborative stakeholders in our town are, and can be, during a time of crisis.

  1. Support for our vision. Support for S P A C E B A R has been unwavering and grown as the project has developed as the vision is clear and stakeholders have backed this vision. The project is driven by a group of people who are passionate about making things happen within the town, knowing the benefits that this project will bring to many.
  2. Partner expertise. The creativity of Weston College (graphic design students created the name and branding), the support from the Sovereign Centre (home of Spacebar), North Somerset Council, the platform created by the Weston Place Agency, and the business connections through the Business Improvement District – we all bring different expertise to the table.
  3. Communication is key. Many partners have formed this dispersed team, delivering a project through an exceptional year. As a group we have communicated regularly (daily throughout some stages of the project) through every means possible – phone calls, emails, Microsoft Teams. Frequent communication, informing all partners of progress and tackling setbacks together has been important.

As I write this blog, the shop refurbishment is complete and although the latest lockdown has delayed students using the space, S P A C E B A R has launched virtually with digital technology students working on projects to support our local community.

The support we’ve received has been incredible, but having a vision, partnership ethos and effective communication has been the key to making our vision come alive.

Despite a global pandemic, together we’ve not only created a solution to our challenge, we’ve also started to change our local shopping centre and local high street, creating a tech hub and ensuring Weston-super-Mare will have a fantastic ‘digital shop window’ for the future.

If your business is looking to partner with an innovative training provider, reach out to us for a conversation at

Perhaps we’ll create an exciting project together . . .

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