Cognitious Competence Inspires Delapré Abbey Confidence

1st June 2018   |  

Delapré Abbey

Delapré Abbey is a Grade II listed building in Northamptonshire, designated as being in the top 8% of heritage sites and listed by Historic England as a registered battlefield.

The Abbey has witnessed everything from royal visits, battles and intrigue to technological innovation, world wars and dissolution. Now four years into a comprehensive renovation programme it is a splendid venue for events, weddings, corporate and private hire which offers visitors five interactive storytelling zones.

The events programme alone offers a real voyage of discovery, with the current p/m including arts workshops, markets, lectures and celebrations.

In addition to its responsibilities to paying customers and general public alike, Delapré Abbey has 10+ permanent staff, supported by 100 volunteers performing varied tasks as tour guides, front of house volunteers, gardeners, researchers and maintenance workers.

Inside this prestigious venue, with its varied and demanding on site events and activities schedule to deliver, the Health & Safety provision requires a special understanding of client needs.

Cognitious Ltd

Cognitious is an Ashridge Group company, specialists in providing security consultancy, with a commitment to deliver ’safety through knowledge’. Cognitious initially provided security consultancy on behalf of stakeholders to identify potential risk and explore holistic options so that Delapré Abbey could maintain a safe and secure environment, both operationally and during quiet hours.  Once a scope of work was agreed, a security survey was undertaken and a full report provided, a fuller security strategy was then submitted and subsequently a technical document with a summary of technical solutions that could be delivered.

Since 2016, Cognitious has been providing contract client support in Health & Safety matters, including a ‘Competent Person’ designated to act on behalf of the Abbey Trust in matters pertaining to Health & Safety legislation, compliance, operations and training.

Rachael Boyd, Director of Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust explains how working with Cognitious Health & Safety Consultant Beckie Staincliffe as their ‘Competent Person’, has provided the organisation with full confidence in the Abbey’s Policies and procedures for the wellbeing of staff, volunteers and visitors alike.

The Service

Cognitious offers a full and comprehensive support package which ensure compliance in an ever-changing regulatory environment in a 24/7 service encompassing all the following:

  • Planning – 3 hour kick-off meeting covering planning and procedures
  • Emergency advice and call-out service – available 24/7
  • Telephone and email support service – including emergency mobile numbers
  • Updates – all major regulatory changes and additions advised as they happen
  • Notifications – as required to the relevant enforcement authority
  • Training events – available at substantial discounts
  • Website – exclusive member access to relevant documents and information
  • Incident support – as and when required with rapid response  

The Project

With its own unique client ‘character’ and demands, the Abbey at first needed help and guidance through procedures involved in leasehold occupancy of the Abbey and its land.

This was accompanied by a detailed consultancy process which included education and understanding of the legal requirements involved in the setting up of the Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust, with particular reference to its role in the transition across to leaseholder status for the premises.  This involved considerable work with the incumbent holder, the local authority.

Beckie and her team were also able to write and compile a full Health & Safety Policy which was enshrined in a formal procedures manual.  This ran to some 150 pages and was made available in both digital and hard copy format.  This was then supplemented with familiarisation training for DAPT.

A number of specific elements were covered by the Cognitious team’s work, including:

  • Product training in individual and specialist operational matters, for example ladder safety
  • Legal policy familiarisation
  • General risk assessments and plans
  • Disaster recovery plan
  • Specialist matters relevant to heritage sites

In establishing this robust and practical Health & Safety regime, there was an extensive consultative process, engaging with various stakeholder groups for example Directors, Trust and Board members, volunteers and the representative of the Local Authority.

The Outcomes

Delapré Abbey Preservation Trust Director Rachael Boyd says that approaching two years into the relationship, it’s the word ‘confidence’ that most succinctly sums up the Cognitious performance.

She reports that the Abbey is doing well, with healthy visitor numbers and many people enjoying the public event programme.

“With the huge variety of events held here and the unique nature of the site, our concerns for the wellbeing of our staff and our visitors were soon allayed because of the professionalism and commitment of Beckie and her team.

Health & Safety matters are absolutely crucial to our reputation and our future.  For myself and other members of the board, it’s the confidence of knowing that our ‘Competent Person’ is just that.

For example, when we held a Halloween event with specialised equipment we asked Cognitious to review our detailed risk assessment. With some operating templates established this was then supported with continuous communication and conference calls.

When we go into an event, we want to concentrate on providing our customers with the best experience possible. Not having to worry about the integrity of our Health & Safety regime is such a reassurance.

For us competence means confidence.”