Monthly Archives: December 2012

National Network Event for Public Engagement

On Monday I attended the National Network Event for Public Engagement, which was organised by the Welsh Government ESF Local Service Board team. Participation Cymru were involved in the admin for the day and Mandy Williams delivered a workshop on the Evaluation Toolkit that was recently made available.

After Ceri Thomas from the Welsh Government welcomed everyone to the event, we learnt more about Comms Cymru from Sarah Moseley, who Chairs the project, and Gethin White, who is the Project Manager. They spoke about how they’re becoming members of the Public Engagement Working Group and how they can help to improve citizen engagement in Wales. There’s a wealth of resources on their website on their website, and you can also sign up to receive their newsletter if your website contains .gov. or .org.

Whilst Mandy delivered her session on evaluation, I went on a bit of a wander to the workshop on Setting up an effective Consultation Hub, which was being delivered by Clover Rodrigues of the Welsh Local Government Association, and Idris Evans of the Merthyr Tydfil and Rhondda Cynon Taff Local Service Board. Their session looked at the functionality needed and the benefits of an effective online consultation hub for public services in the area. Excitingly, this could lead to an all Wales on-line platform for sharing information on consultations. Everyone seemed to agree that if this is to work, the project needs buy-in from everyone who’s involved. Managers will have to get on board with the project so that staff can include their work on the hub as part of their work.

The second workshop that I attended was by Daniel Jones from the Welsh Government, whose session was on Sustainable Citizen Engagement. Dan made some really interesting points, including how citizen engagement remains constructive rather than transformational as bodies focus on consultation rather than wholesale engagement. He highlighted examples of how engagement could potentially drive change, including how frontline staff and service users had been involved in a commissioning panel for services for Families First.

My quote for the session though goes to Kelly Daniel from Interlink who said “A cultural change is needed. Participation and citizen engagement are embedded in children and young people’s services. We need to go deeper than Local Service Board Frameworks and Single Integrated Plans”.

This was followed by a closing session where we heard an update on the All Wales Internet & Social Media Survey 2012 (which I’ve previously blogged about here) and we heard from workshop leaders about the main points from the workshops and what the key actions to take forward are.

All in all, lots to ponder and think about, especially as we ponder Participation Cymru’s response to the Sustainable Development bill consultation!

You can find all the presentations from the day here.

– Dyfrig

Citizen’s Panels for Social Services in Wales

Gwenda Thomas AM, the Deputy Minister for Children and Social Services, has now officially launched the Citizen’s Panels for Social Services. The panels will bring together people of an even geographical and age spread, who will meet quarterly to inform the Deputy Minister and her National Social Services Partnership Forum of their opinions of current issues around social services.

Gwenda Thomas AM and Lisa Armstrong from the South East Wales panel

The last of the regional panels to run was the South West panel, which took place in Gorseinon. It was really great to hear the panel members’ perspectives on the way forward for social services in Wales. Andrew Hubbard’s personal assistant was ill on the day, so I offered my services. It’s fair to say I learnt lots about accessibility and ensuring that Andrew felt he could take part. Andrew was a great trainer, and he was very understanding about my lack of experience! You can hear Andrew’s perspective below.

After the last meeting I had a chance to sit down with my Manager Mandy Williams, who said that the project “feels extremely privileged to be a part of this important work. Having held the first round of adult panels and begun to engage with children and young people’s groups we are impressed and humbled by the views and experience that people have been willing to share with us. I am in no doubt that the Deputy Minister and the Partnership Forum will benefit hugely from the input of these citizens. This important work of creating sustainable social services for Wales cannot be achieved without them.

“We’ve met some lovely people without exception. Everybody seems to be really positive about the difference they can make and that they can influence at the strategic level that social services are moving forward in. They feel particularly passionate about having representation on the partnership forum and we’ve been discussing ways in which that can be done.

“The make-up of each of the regional panels is very mixed, there are some people who have direct experience of social services, some who care for people who receive social services and there are others who have a professional background in social services either currently or in the past, so collectively they bring a wealth of experience and opinions to bear on the future direction of social services in Wales.

“We look forward to working with them as we’re convinced that this is the right way of working and that we need to ensure that the voice of citizen is heard.”

– Dyfrig