Tag Archives: citizen engagement

Gamification at the Bangor festival of Behaviour Change

The most recent North Wales Participation Network was held as part of a wider event – the Festival of Behaviour Change which took place in Pontio, Bangor University and was organised in partnership with Wales Audit Office and Good Practice Wales.

The Behaviour Change Festival was aimed at people with an interest in social change or innovation in roles in healthcare, education, local and national government and the voluntary sector including:

  • Staff who deliver public services
  • Policy Makers
  • Elected Members
  • Strategic Decision Makers
  • Service Users with an interest in better public services

A major part of the festival was the gamification aspect to each day. If you read our most recent newsletter, this was featured as the ‘Method of the Month’. Let’s explore how this works in more detail:

Each participant had 3 ‘game cards’ inside the delegate pack that was given out upon arrival. Each card either represented ‘easy’, ‘medium’ or ‘hard’ and had a list of challenges to complete throughout the day. When you complete a challenge, you get a stamp on your game card and a completed card wins a small prize.

I like a challenge, so I went straight to the card labelled ‘hard’ and had a look at what I’d need to do in order to win a prize:

  1. Walk 6000 steps
  2. Order a healthy meal from restaurant within the venue
  3. Recognise 3 good things that happened today
  4. Join with another group
  5. Attend all events in one day

Screenshot of step-counter AppIt wasn’t as easy as simply asking for a stamp, you needed to provide proof

I used a step-counter app on my phone to keep track of my footsteps (I’d already walked to the venue so was over half-way towards the target before the event began), they had pedometers available too.

At lunchtime, I took a photograph of my receipt and my meal and was awarded a stamp for ‘ordering a healthy meal’ English Healthy Menu from Pontio Restaurant in Bangor University

 

I also intended to use photos as proof for recognising positive things that happened – the sun was shining, our network event was very well attended and we had an excellent discussion – I sadly didn’t gain the stamp for this challenge, as I was busy facilitating the network event and only had a chance to take 1 photograph so missed out due to lack of evidence!

In order to join with another group, there were various colours of wristbands in our delegate packs – 4 different colours in total. This could be proved by taking a photo of the different coloured wristbands.

Red and Blue wristbands from Bangor University Psychology

To prove you attended all the events in one day, after leaving a session the participants who were playing the game could get a stamp for their card.

Although I didn’t gain every stamp in order to win a prize, this activity was a very fun way to participate in addition to the interesting sessions taking place as part of the festival.

GameCards

Apply this game to your own life

This technique is incredibly motivational if you apply it to your everyday life. There is a website and mobile app I’ve discovered called Habitica which turns your life into an RPG (role-playing-game). You set your own tasks and goals, rate their difficulty and when you complete them your character is rewarded! Be warned, if you don’t complete your tasks, this will harm your character’s health and you will have to work harder to bring it back up again.

Random acts of kindness

In addition to the game cards, inside our delegate pack was information about ‘random acts of kindness’ …and some stickers. The information sheet suggested these possible random acts of kindness:

  • Leave a used book in a cafe
  • Tell someone how they have impacted your life
  • Buy a drink for the person behind you in the queue
  • Hide a small gift for a stranger to discover
  • Pay someone a compliment
  • Give a handwritten note to a friend

The game was to use the stickers provided to identify your random acts of kindness. The aim of this game is to create a positive experience for everyone. Small, simple and commonly spontaneous acts of kindness, often performed to strangers, have been shown to significantly increase feelings of happiness for both the giver and receiver. Additionally, consciously reflecting upon such acts is linked to a reduction in negative emotions and is thought to enhance an optimistic outlook.

Research has shown that random acts of kindness can be an effective way in which to enhance your social and emotional wellbeing, which is further connected to relationship skills, responsible decision-making, self-esteem and self-awareness.

Have you used any gamification activities with service users, or have you used a gamification app for personal behaviour change goals? Why might random acts of kindness work for you? Please let us know in the comments below and join our discussion.

  – Sarah

 

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Networking in nature

In the Participation Cymru team we love spending time outdoors and the opportunity of holding a network in the open air is an idea we’ve thrown around for a while.

So, just after the early May Bank Holiday weekend we held our first ever practitioner network event that took place in nature with the help of Tom Moses from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Here is a summary what happened:

Firstly, the weather was absolutely glorious!

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Not even a hint of rain

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Tom started the fire earlier that morning, so hot tea and coffee was served upon arrival.

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Jill Simpson, from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park showed us this beautiful, tactile piece of community made woodland furniture (it’s so much more than just a bench) that was designed and created by local young people.

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Matt, a volunteer for Pembrokeshire Coast took us for a walk along a bridleway where we learned map reading and basic orienteering skills.

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Along the way we met some inquisitive young cattle who were very keen to say hello

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It’s possible to make tea from various plants, roots and fungi found in the woodland (but never eat anything you’ve picked in the wild unless you’re absolutely sure that it’s safe!)

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Our mid-morning snack: warm bread fresh from a Dutch oven with freshly picked wild garlic.

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We used a participatory voting method – ‘pebble voting’ to decide which of the teas tasted the best (dandelion seemed to be the most popular).

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It wasn’t just tea-testing, cows and pretty walks however; the topic of the networking meeting was behaviour change. Participation Cymru posed the question for organisations who are implementing the National Principles for Public Engagement in Wales: what behaviour change has to take place within an organisation? Answers on a magnetic whiteboard…

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We recently published a checklist of implementation for the National Principles with questions relating to each principle. Has your organisation had to change its behaviour when engaging? Have you had to try to influence the behaviour of others in order to make improvements? Join the conversation but leaving a comment below.

Finally…leave (almost) no trace

This water soluble air-drying clay is an excellent way for people to ‘leave their mark’ in nature without causing any damage to the environment. We took all of our rubbish with us.

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Many thanks to Tom, Jill and Matt from Pembrokeshire Park National Park Authority who helped make this event a success.

Are you thinking of holding a community event or meeting outdoors in Wales? If you are, please tell us so we can help you promote it.

Keep checking our website for details of future network events.

Our ‘All Wales Network event’ entitled ‘Engaging with diverse communities’ is taking place in Llandrindod Wells on 14th July it’s FREE to attend!

Sarah

October Regional participation networks: tools and techniques

If you’re new to this blog, our regional participation networks are suitable for anyone working in the field of participation and citizen engagement and we run them three times a year in North Wales, South East Wales and South West Wales. Attendees come from a range of different organisations in the public and third sector that focus on a variety of issues. The events are suitable for anyone from any level within an organisation that has an interest in practical participatory work, including consultation officers, trustees, volunteers, development workers and managers.

These regional participation networks are suitable for anyone working in the field of participation and citizen engagement.

The theme of the events that took place in Glyncoch, Llanelli and Rhyl in October was participative tools and techniques. The sessions offered an opportunity for participants to learn and practice a number of practical techniques that can be used in face to face engagement activity.

Here is a summary of some of the techniques that we explored and the ideas we discussed:

Hopes and fears

Aims: To identify participants’ hopes and fears.

Method: Ask participants to write down their hopes and fears. We used this as an extended ice-breaker to identify what people were hoping to get from the session and what they were afraid of. It’s also valuable to re-visit these at the end of the session, to check whether the hopes were met and the fears were addressed.

This technique is particularly useful to use at the start of a session because it allows the facilitator to manage expectations from the beginning; for example if anyone has ‘hoped’ for something which is not relevant or off-topic then this can be made clear. It may also be comforting for participants to see that others share the same ‘fears’ as them – the facilitator could also reassure anyone with legitimate fears relating to the session.

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World’s best and worst

Aims: To draw attention to issues by looking at them in a dream/nightmare scenario. This can be both a visioning tool and a problem solving tool.

Method: Choose a topic that you want to explore and ask the group to imagine the absolute best and worst version they can imagine.

This technique is interesting because it allows the group to explore a situation by looking at it in its most extreme. It is also a very light hearted way of looking at serious issues. Following on from this – you could then move on to thinking about the process of how you achieve the ‘world’s best’ and how to avoid becoming the ‘world’s worst’!

For our network events, we chose the topic of neighbours: What does the world’s best/worst neighbour look like and what characteristics do they have?

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Facts vs. Assumptions

Aims: To distinguish facts from assumptions and build awareness that what people identify as fact is often rumour or opinion.

While we were preparing for this technique we were mindful of how to distinguish facts from assumptions and we found it difficult to pick a topic to use for demonstration purposes. We decided to ask what participant’s assumptions were about Participation Cymru and then we were able to ‘myth-bust’ them, which was a lot of fun! Some participants assumed that we were a large team, when we are a team of just four.

We then asked attendees to volunteer to be the ‘fact keeper’ for their own organisations and we repeated the exercise with organisations from people in the room. This was a fascinating way of networking and learning about each other’s organisations and it prompted a lot of discussion at our network events.

If the topic you’re discussing is controversial then it should be used carefully as facts are not always straightforward – lots of people will see their opinions as facts. This tool could also be used in partnership working between organisations; we use it in our Effective Partnership Working accredited training course.

Attendees at the 3 events also shared their own favourite techniques, we always welcome contributions to our participation networks – if you ever have an idea/topic or would like to be involved in planning or delivery our networks then please get in touch.

To evaluate these network events we asked attendees to rate each technique on its usefulness using stickers on a 1-10 scale (combined results from all 3 events):

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The next round of network events are in February 2015 and they are free to attend. More information will be available soon but you can book early to guarantee your place! Thank you for your continued support of these participation networks.

 – Sarah

Participatory Research with Carers

This guest blog post was written by Rachel Waters from Newport Community Counselling Service.

University of South Wales logoNewport Community Counselling Service (NCCS) is based at The University of South Wales. The service offers free counselling to local people at venues across Newport and Caerleon.

NCCS also carries out research into counselling and in this blog I will focus on our participatory research with carers.  I’ve reflected on some challenging aspects of the work and included a few tips to help others involved in participatory research.

What is Participatory Research (PR)?

Participatory research involves people in research as co-researchers not just participants; knowledge is co-produced through collaboration between community research partners, and research should lead to action to benefit the community under study.

Participatory approaches have a distinct value position ‘involving … sharing power with those usually the objects of research, and to working for progressive social change’ (Durham Community Research Team, 2011, pg.4)

Finding our Co-researchers

Our first step was to engage carers’ organisations in the Newport area.

This was initially difficult – many organisations were supportive and wanted to be ‘kept informed’, but did not have capacity to get involved.  Explaining the nature of participatory research was tricky– often I was asked about the research questions and the time commitment needed.  I explained that co-researchers would decide on research questions and that commitment was flexible depending on organisational interests and capacity. The uncertainty inherent in participatory research approaches makes it difficult to predict in any detail what the project will involve, and this makes it harder for organisations to be able to commit to involvement.

Despite these challenges we eventually gained the interest and commitment of a number of key local organisations and individuals, who agreed to become co-researchers.

Our co-researchers

Our co-researchers are: Newport Carers’ Forum, Hafal (Newport), Newport City Council Carer’s Development officer and Newport Council Adult Review Team.

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  • Tip…Existing positive relationships with organisations and individuals can make this first step much easier.
  • Tip…   Prepare a succinct and accessible explanation of participatory research but be prepared for questions about the details of the project.

The next task was to work together to decide on our research question.

Deciding what to research

Ideally in participatory research, community co-researchers choose the research topic and questions, however, our particular context as a University based counselling service required that we focus on counselling.  We made our co-researchers aware of this from the start. 

A review of the NCCS counselling service revealed that not many carers were using our service and those who were often didn’t stay for long.  This was worrying as we know from our co-researchers and from research that there are lots of carers in this area, that caring can lead to stress, depression and anxiety, and that counselling can be helpful to carers.  We shared this information with our co-researchers and the group decided to explore this discrepancy with the aim of improving the service NCCS offers to carers and sharing what we find with other counselling and carers organisations.

Discussion with our co-researchers revealed that carers tend to focus on the cared for person whilst neglecting their own needs.  This was supported in the research literature.  The group wondered if carers view counselling as a way of helping them to maintain caring and underestimate how helpful it might be for addressing their own needs.

The group came up with the following objectives:

  • To identify carers expectations of the process and potential outcomes of counselling
  • To identify whether and how carers think that counselling could be helpful to them, particularly in relation to the impact of caring on their emotional well-being
  • To identify barriers to carers accessing counselling services
  • To work collaboratively and as far as practicable, equitably with local community member

Although reading this summary, it might appear that our research objectives fell quickly and seamlessly into place, in reality the process of integrating academic and community based knowledge was time consuming and awkward.  We reviewed the literature and listened to our community partners at the same time – in hindsight, listening first and then reviewing literature on the topics raised may have facilitated the process.

  • Tip…    Consider in advance whether and how you will integrate academic knowledge of the topic into the development of research objectives or questions.

Developing our study materials

We decided as a group to use semi structured interviews to gain information from carers, and set about producing our study materials – publicity for recruiting participants, interview schedule, etc.

Ideally in participatory research all materials would be produced as a group from scratch, however, pragmatic concerns meant that we decided the academic partners would develop the materials which would then be reviewed and edited by the group using their experiential and local knowledge.

The review process resulted in several changes to our materials such as clarifying the term ‘carer’ – which our co-researchers informed us was used locally to refer to paid as well as unpaid carers.  We also adjusted the interview schedule to suit those caring for more than one person – a situation which our co-researchers demonstrated was far more common than we had anticipated.

Research Outcomes

One of the important aspects of participatory research is that it should lead to positive action to benefit the community being researched – in our case, carers in Gwent.   What action we take depends on the results of our research however, we have various ideas in mind which include developing specialist training for counsellors working with carers and /or producing accessible information for carers about counselling.

We are currently recruiting carers to be interviewed for our research.  If you know of any unpaid carer, over 18 in Gwent who might be interested please forward my contact details:

Rachel Waters (Research Assistant)
Newport Community Counselling Service
Tel: 01633 435282
E-mail: Rachel.Waters2@southwales.ac.uk

Any views or opinions presented in this blog are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of the University of South Wales or community co-researchers.

References

Durham Community Research Team (2011) Community-based participatory research: Ethical challenges.  Available at: https://www.dur.ac.uk/resources/beacon/CCDiscussionPapertemplateCBPRBanksetal7Nov2011.pdf (Accessed 2 May 2014)

May Regional Participation Networks: Co-production

Co-production seems to be the latest buzz word to be found in all sectors of public service and some would argue that is means different things to different people. In the participation networks that took place at the beginning of May, we explored what co-production means to people and tried to make sense of what it means in the context of participation and engagement. Participants at the network also shared a lot of examples of co-production happening in their projects/organisations – but not everyone is calling it ‘co-production’. As we’ve learned in previous network events (February 2014, October 2013) it’s important not to get bogged down with definitions.

We began each network meeting with an ice-breaker exercise. We asked participants to form pairs and think about what co-production might look like, what is probably is and what it probably isn’t. This exercise wasn’t aiming to pin a definition down into words but aimed to identify what working co-productively actually entails.

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The group identified that co-production is not a tokenistic approach to engagement; it’s not just about saving money and not about consultation. The groups also recognised that shared power, working towards a common goal and recognising people as assets capture what co-production ‘probably’ is – synonymous with Edgar Cahn’s core values of co-production:

  • Recognising people as assets
  • Valuing work differently
  • Promoting reciprocity/mutuality
  • Building social networks.

Click here to download the full icebreaker notes.

We had a different guest speaker in each event. Anne Collis from Barod was our speaker in North Wales. Barod have produced a sister document to WCVA’s Putting People at the Centre publication called Being at the Centre which will be published shortly. Being at the Centre is written in Everyday English and is aimed at members of the public who use public services.

Barod has developed a method that they call coffee shop conversations and they used this technique when developing the Being at the Centre publication. The method involves listening to people’s views in a relaxed environment (coffee shop or cafe) as opposed to a formal consultation meeting.

Our speaker in South East Wales was Gareth Coles, Public Service Delivery Officer in WCVA. Gareth asked participants to think about the barriers to working co-productively and they came up with:

  • The idea of co-production can be confusing as there are many different ideas and definition of what it is
  • Co-production asks people in organisations to give up their power and to give power to communities and members of the public. Co-production can’t happen unless kick-started by the people at the top, who are often unwilling to share power.
  • Financial pressures.  Also a current lack of honesty in communications with the public – many organisations are actually afraid to meet residents and to be honest with them.
  • Organisations don’t always recognise that service users have something to give back

The group then discussed what steps organisations can take to work more co-productively:

  • Spend more time listening
  • Not being afraid to give the answer they don’t want to hear
  • Ask for concerns and solutions
  • Put yourself in shoes of recipient
  • Building and pooling skills/resources
  • Accept criticism
  • Give it a go (with good faith)
  • Creating transparent dialogue

In South West Wales, the speakers were Rick Wilson from Community Lives Consortium and some project leaders from the Time to Meet project. Time to meet is organised by people with learning disabilities and their friends, family and staff in Swansea. It is there to help members to build stronger social lives with people around them by sharing skills, interests and time. This includes jewellery making workshops, card making workshops, coffee mornings and lots of other activities including their own version of Come Dine with Me called Come Eat With Us!

Rick demonstrated a method they use to identify what their members want to do. We were each given red pieces of paper and blue pieces of paper. The red piece had a question: What would you like to do? And on the blue piece: What do you like doing, or are good at doing? Once we’d all written our answers down we put all the papers on the floor and grouped them together. It turned out that a lot of us wanted to learn about gardening and cooking and there were also people in the room who already had knowledge about these topics so as a group we’d immediately identified an opportunity for people to learn and a resource to do so.

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To end each network meeting we always break into small groups to share recent pieces of work and examples of good practice or just to continue general discussion. Finally participants are asked to complete a participative evaluation exercise.

Participation Cymru no longer receive any funding to facilitate and organise these participation networks so we’re very grateful to the participants’ organisations for providing the venues and refreshments (on this occasion: Careers Wales – Bangor, South Wales Fire & Rescue HQ – Llantrisant and Carmarthenshire County Council). We’re also very grateful to the speakers for giving us their time. We will endeavour to keep these network meetings going and the next round of meetings in October will focus on participative tools and techniques so if you would like to demonstrate or try out a technique or if you’re able to contribute anything else to these networks then please get in touch.

Next week, Non Humphries will blog about Co-Production in Action.

–       Sarah