Tag Archives: 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

 

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

Participation is key to challenging discrimination

At the All Wales Participation Network this year, Joe Powell set the tone with a powerful opening speech about the importance of full participation in society for people with learning disabilities. Joe was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome in 1996 and has spent 11 years in social care. He is now National Director of All Wales People First; a group uniting the voices of self-advocacy groups in Wales. Joe drew on his first hand experience of fighting to leave a system that was determined to see him purely as a service-user, someone needing assistance, and not as someone who also had a lot to offer to his community.

Joe began his talk by outlining ‘The good life model’; values that are important to the people with learning disabilities Joe has spoken to. These values included ‘loving and caring relationships’, the choice that is derived from having some wealth (implicitly this includes control over one’s financial assets), a ‘contributing place in the World’ and ‘a home of my own’. The first thing that struck me was how similar they are to what a non-learning disabled person wants from their own life – these values seemed universal, as opposed to learning-disability specific. All of the values were, to my mind, underpinned by a balance between personal safety and security on one hand and on the other a sense of being able to take agency over one’s own life and further, contribute something to the lives of others. Isn’t this what everyone wants form their lives?

Picture of Joe Powell presenting at Participation Cymru event.

Many people with learning disabilities also have a visual impairment and some of these people were not taught to read at school. Simple measures such as offering easy-read information and audio format can make it possible for people with learning disabilities to access information without having to rely on a friend or carer to read it to them. This allows people to maintain a sense of independence and dignity, rather than become institutionalised, especially where the information concerned is of a private nature.

Given that what people with learning disabilities want is so similar to what the wider population aspire to, one could be forgiven for assuming that these desires are readily accommodated in learning-disability care and are empathised with by society. However, Joe explained that in reality people with learning disabilities are effectively ‘retired at the age of eighteen years’; rarely in employment and often even excluded from volunteering. The mentality behind such sidelining appears to be that anyone with a learning disability is a ‘service user’ and therefore in need of assistance. Whilst many people with learning disabilities are indeed users of services, this does not mean that they are not capable and eager to give assistance in their communities and contribute meaningfully not only to their own lives, but also to the lives of others.

History of people learning disabilities

This restriction in participation is not only a massive loss in terms of potential volunteering and employment opportunities but also completely contrary to the principles of the All Wales Strategy 1983. The strategy stipulates that people with learning disabilities have the right to choose their own patterns of life within their communities and to access to professional services where additional help is necessary for them to achieve this.

People with learning disabilities largely DO want to work and to volunteer, said Joe, and we need to make more of an effort to accommodate their needs in theses capacities. Prejudice stems from ignorance and when people with learning disabilities are visible in useful roles, this will make it harder to stereotype them as a burden and give credibility to their voices.

Joe’s closing remark, before inviting questions from the floor, was that participation for people with learning disabilities must be realistic and never tokenistic. We must make it possible for people with learning disabilities to enter the workforce with reasonable adjustments made if necessary only when they are capable of fulfilling that role.

If you would like to hear more from Joe Powell, you can keep up with Joe’s Soapbox.

The ‘Storify’ for the day, including Joe’s presentation, other resources from the event as well as delegate’s contributions via social media is available here.

– Non

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

Legislation

Participation Cymru recently attended a workshop at the Older People’s Commissioner for Wales offices (OPCW). The workshop looked at a range of scenarios that affect older people and how the new Social Services and Well Being (Wales) Bill would impact on their situation, would it make it better, worse or have no impact?

ImageThe majority of people at the workshop were in agreement that the new Bill was definitely well-intentioned but when you try to apply a piece of legislation like this one to someone’s life, it’s very difficult to see how exactly it will help them.

This Bill, like many others, is very long and the Explanatory Memorandum that accompanies it is even longer. In fact many people I’ve spoken with about it have said that it ‘weighed them down’ (in more ways than one!). The workshop made me think about legislation in the wider sense and if law-making compares to citizen empowerment. Technically, it doesn’t.

So instead, is legislation there to protect people? In a sense: yes. The Social Services and Well-Being Bill aims to protect social service users and carers, ensuring that their needs are met and their voice is heard. Other pieces of legislation in Wales and the UK are also there to protect people, our property or possessions.Image

This leads to a philosophical question: do we need protection before we can feel empowered? Does this protection have to be legal? Or should we instead rely on the common sense of service providers to offer the required service no-matter-what, eliminating the need for a lengthy legal document?

No person who we’ve spoken to has ever said that what they really want or need is new piece of legislation”.

I completely agree – the people of Wales need access to good public services that meet their needs, they don’t need legislation to tell a service provider what they should be doing anyway.

A simple way of putting this point across is: The reason that I don’t go out tomorrow and rob a bank is because I think stealing is immoral and selfish, not because I want to avoid punishment or because there is a law that says I shouldn’t. I am empowered by my own decision.

–         Sarah

Networking at breakfast!!!

The mere notion of meeting and influencing new people at breakfast time sends me into a cold sweat but this is exactly what I was asked to facilitate at the WCVA Conference, ‘Engage! Collaborative Working’ in the Liberty Stadium, Swansea this week.

About 20 people from a variety of third sector organisations in Wales turned up especially early to attend the breakfast networking session run by Participation Cymru.

Networking

As the facilitator for this session, it challenged me to ask the question, ‘How good am I at networking myself’?

It is after all more than just saying hello to someone else in the room. It is a deliberate activity, a practiced art and there are natural networkers and then those like myself who have to work quite hard at it. Put me in front of a room of participants for a training session or ask me to facilitate or chair a meeting and I am well within my comfort zone. Put me, without a role to play, in a group of people I don’t know and I find that much more difficult.

Networking is an important competence for many a job these days. Partnerships and collaborative working depend on it. Making the most of meeting new people with a view to them being potential new colleagues or partners is something we all need to be good at.

So this meeting over breakfast offered the opportunity for a seemingly random set of people to start getting to know each other better, to share knowledge, experience and opportunities. To go away with a new contact, a fresh piece of thinking or the germ of a collaborative opportunity.

Time was limited before the opening plenary session of the conference started so I facilitated a speed networking process that allowed people to identity someone in the room they didn’t know and to spend 5 minutes in each other’s company using the following as prompts and then another person and so on:

  • Tell each other who you are, where you’re from and what you do.
  • Identify what you and your organisation can offer to others.
  • Identify what you and your organisation can gain from others.

After all ‘Networking is marketing. Marketing yourself, marketing your uniqueness, marketing what you stand for.’ (Christine Comaford-Lynch).

But it also worth remembering that. ’You can make more friends in two months by becoming interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get other people interested in you’. (Dale Carnegie).

Networking is a skill that can be learnt. It is an attitude that says, ‘I am open to new encounters and opportunities’.

Thank you to those eager people who took up the opportunity to network at breakfast this week and I hope that the conversations over coffee and croissants was worth the early start.

Mandy

Why participation is brilliant

This blog post is my last piece of work for Participation Cymru, and I just want to say a big thank you to everyone I’ve worked with over the last three years.  My colleagues at Participation Cymru are incredibly committed individuals. It’s been inspiring watching my fellow staff work their socks off, which as a small team working on a national basis has never been anything less than vital.

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Wales Council for Voluntary Action hosts our project, and I’ve been based here even longer (eight years to the month). I never thought I’d end up training and facilitating when I started working here as an Administrative Assistant on the Helpdesk.

Whilst working for Participation Cymru I’ve met some fantastic staff at many a public service organisation, who are determined to open up decision making where they work. I’ve met so many great people from a variety of fields around Wales that are passionate about ensuring that public services are both transparent and accountable.

On the other side of the coin, I’ve really enjoyed the practical work we’ve done with citizens around Wales. I’ve met so many committed people who have been more than ready to give their time to try and make public services and society in general better. It’s for this reason that the most memorable piece of work I’ve been part of has been the Citizen Panel for Social Services in Wales.

Involve have written a great pamphlet on participation called From Fairy Tale to Reality. The pamphlet debunks myths about why participation isn’t practical, including that:

  • engagement is too expensive
  • citizen’s aren’t up to it
  • engagement only works for easy issues
  • citizen power is a floodgate we should avoid at all costs
  • citizens don’t want to be involved, they just want good service

When I watched members of the panel online giving evidence to the National Assembly for Wales’ Health and Social Care committee on 16 May, the panel members dispel these myths one by one – they speak about direct payments (which could make services cheaper as they’re tailored to people’s needs), they have awareness around the issues of the service they access, they dissect a very complex and weighty bill, they provide considered and detailed responses and they very much want their voices to be heard.

Even if you gave me a list of points that the panel covered, I wouldn’t have the direct experience to truly dissect the points and flaws half as effectively as they do, as they encounter these on a day to day basis. I can definitely say that I wouldn’t be able to speak about these points as movingly or as passionately as the panel does.

When I watched the panel give evidence it really hit home how public services can only truly meet people’s needs when we ask people what their needs are, and that we then work with them to change public services.

–      Dyfrig

Wayne Jepson reflects on our work and being a member of our Advisory Panel

This is the final video in a series of three that we conducted with Participation Cymru Advisory Panel members, following previous interviews with both Derek Walker of the Wales Co-operative Centre and Margaret Peters of the Countryside Council for Wales (which is now part of Natural Resources Wales). We filmed these as part of our Evaluation Framework, which helps us to ensure that what we do is meeting the needs of people and organisations who access our services.

Wayne Jepson on Participation Cymru / Wayne Jepson ar Gyfranogaeth Cymru from Participation Cymru on Vimeo.

Wayne is a long serving member of the Advisory Panel. He has represented NLIAH (the National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare, which has now closed, with its functions transferred to the Welsh Government and NHS Wales) for a few years now, and he has been involved in commissioning work from us as a project as well as providing a steer for our work as a member of the Advisory Panel.

When I asked Wayne to tell me how he saw the role of Participation Cymru’s Advisory Panel he said “I think the Advisory Panel is a critical element of Patricipation Cymru’s development. I think it provides a forum to inform and influence decisions that are being made by Participation Cymru and about Participation Cymru and the wider public sector. For me, the Advisory Panel not only acts as a programme board might for a project, but it also is there as that check and balance for Participation Cymru. I think that because of the make-up of the Advisory Panel – people are from a range of different organisations and different sectors – it brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to the table that can only help Participation Cymru in developing and moving forward”.

One of the National Principles for Public Engagement in Wales is to “Work with relevant partner organisations”. NLIAH firmly put this into action in their role as an Advisory Panel member by commissioning training from us in partnership with the Welsh Local Government Association. This approach ensured the best possible use of resources, but also gave added value to the training as attendees were given the opportunity to network and to learn from each other’s experiences.

NLIAH produced a range of useful resources on improving health services, including really useful guidance on involving adult NHS service users and carers, which clearly shows that listening to the voice of patients and the public is vital in order to ensure the improvement of NHS services in Wales.

– Dyfrig

E-participation and storytelling

Participation is such a big concept, the scale of it is so big it’s almost frightening! It encompasses so much from traditional approaches to involving people and communities in person, to engaging with online communities such as social media.

I’m lucky enough to work in a role where I’ve been given lots of freedom to use social media. I know I’m lucky because 53% of respondents to the All Wales Public Services Internet and Social Media Survey said restrictive ICT policies were still a barrier where they worked (full report to be available soon!).

I’ve been lucky to go to a few different courses and events and meet many people who’ve taught me loads about social media, including Louise Brown, who ran a great course for Voices for Change Cymru on online campaigning (and who also has a great blog), and Esther Barrett and Paul Richardson of RSC Cymru, who ran an event for WCVA staff on using social media.

Both sets of training were very practical and gave me ideas about using free tools to engage with people. Esther taught me and fellow staff how to Audacity, which I blogged about using to evaluate our project.

The next time I ran into Esther was at the DS6 Digital Storytelling event in Aberystwyth, where I was based at the time. Esther got into a bit of a discussion at the event about using non-traditional tools like Facebook to tell non-traditional stories. You can see and hear Esther talk more about that in the above video. Her response really got me thinking about how we capture people’s stories to influence public services, especially as more and more people and services are using social media to engage. She ended up running an online conference using Elluminate on this experience, which is fascinating viewing. You can see it here. It covers how people use technology to tell stories in creative ways, right from the Twitter novel that was wholly written in Tweets to the Facebook user who documented the birth of her child. It’s amazing how powerful these narratives are.

Esther and Paul Richardson of RSC Cymru will be helping me to deliver the Introduction to e-participation course that’s part of our current training programme. I’ll feel a bit rude leading the day when I’ve learnt so much from both Esther and Paul, but if you’re attending I hope you find it as useful as I found RSC Cymru’s training!

– Dyfrig