Tag Archives: Good Practice

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

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.

Participatoryresearch

  • 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)

October regional participation networks: Accessible information and technology

Should we endeavour to achieve optimum results or should we simply try our best?

We’ve just held the Regional Network Events and the theme this time round was ‘Accessible information and technology’.

BookWe started each session with an ice-breaker exercise to introduce the theme, half of the participants were given a ‘jargon card’ and the other half given an ‘easy-read card’. Each card contained just one word and the aim of the game was to walk around the room and find the person with the word card which had the same meaning as yours. For example if you had a jargon card which said ‘participate’ then you would be partnered with the person who had an easy-read card saying ‘take part’ and then introduce each other. Other examples of words we used in this icebreaker were endeavour (try), discontinued (finished) and collaborate (work together). We took some of these words from the Plain English Campaign website.

This icebreaker worked well to get people chatting to each other and the feedback we had was positive. No one had used this icebreaker before but some participants had previously played Buzzword Bingo at jargon-heavy meetings.

In South East Wales the event was held in Ystrad Mynach. Barod CIC gave a presentation which outlined why it is important to provide clear information in an accessible format. They introduced the group to the services that Barod provide such as translating documents into Easy Read and/or Everyday English,  they also offer training packages to organisations with the aim to train staff to produce easy-read documents. All of Barod’s work is checked and proofread by people with learning disabilities. Sam from Learning Disability Wales also gave an introduction to the Clear and Easy Guide which is a comprehensive guide for organisations who want to make their information more accessible. The guide comes with an interactive DVD and is free for the voluntary and public sectors (limited to one per organisation). Contact Learning Disability Wales for more information.

In South West Wales we held the event in Felinfoel, Llanelli. Andrew Hubbard from the pilot Citizen Panel for Social Services and the Swansea Association of Independent Living focussed his session on Accessible Technology, making participants aware of how screen-reader software works for visually impaired people. Andrew ran a group exercise which explored a range of different scenarios that disabled people face when accessing everyday information such as job vacancies, bus/train times and advertisements. The exercise was then followed up by a group discussion. Barod CIC were also kind enough to give an introduction to the Clear & Easy guide again (for the second day in a row!)

person reading

After a short break, our training and development officer Siobhan demonstrated a tried and tested participative technique that we’ve used before and has always been very successful – the Hot Air Balloon from Dynamix’s book Spice it Up! This exercise encouraged participants to think about the way their own organisations provided information and how they could make it more accessible. Participants had to think of what was holding them back, who needed to be ‘on board’ and what was needed in order to really ‘make it fly’.

Funding and time constraints were often mentioned as something which was holding them back. One participant came up with the idea that a universal culture change was needed for more accessible information to be regularly available.

We then broke up into small groups to hear from participants about work that they are undertaking, good practice they have encountered or issues they are having. We heard about work happening in TPAS Cymru who are holding an event coming up in November on Public Engagement. We also heard that Communities First Cluster in Barry are holding IT drop-in sessions and delivering basic IT training on how to use the internet. There is also some excellent work being done by South Wales Police who have been doing engagement work with young people – finding out what they think of their local neighbourhood and which areas they feel safe or unsafe in. Carmarthenshire County Council have recently held a budget consultation and used a budget simulator which sounds like a great way to get people involved in budgeting.

Our North Wales event was in Llandudno Junction on a windy and rainy day that we’re so familiar with in Wales! We heard from two members of the pilot Citizen Panel for Social Services; Jennie and Beth Lewis. Beth started by telling the group about her life; she is 24 years old and has a learning disability, she lives in her own flat and has a job, she likes cooking and wants to do more things by herself. She can read very well but doesn’t always understand what the words mean so prefers shorter sentences with pictures. Beth and her mum, Jennie showed us lots of examples of information that were sent to her by post.  The participants were set  a task to translate a letter that had been sent to Beth into an easy-read format in small groups (which everyone found very difficult – ironically the letter is actually about a scheme specifically for disabled people, including people with learning disabilities) Beth walked around the room to read and check what people had written.

jennie-bethWe asked the groups to discuss how they would put Jennie and Beth’s thought provoking presentation into practice by thinking about how they could make the information their own organisations’ produce more accessible. There was certainly a lot to think about and some really interesting discussions were taking place. In particular someone said a big barrier is ‘legal speak’ and certain documents or contracts have to use particular wording and a way to overcome this is to put an easy read explanation alongside or underneath a statement, explaining what it says with a picture if necessary.

Overall this round of events were successful with a very interesting theme and all of our guests in the three areas did an excellent job at presenting. We’re very grateful to Barod, Andrew Hubbard and his assistant Bev, Jennie and Beth for helping us with these networks. Thanks to everyone for coming!

Our next round of network events will be held in February 2014, more details can be found on our website here. Booking early is essential as spaces are limited to 20 per event and they do fill up quickly! Don’t miss out!

–          Sarah

Good Practice Wales

Participation Cymru has been a partner with Good Practice Wales since 2011. It can often be difficult to find examples of good practice, so it’s good to be involved in a project that brings together innovative ways of working from so many sectors and organisations in Wales.

What’s great about the meetings that we attend is that we not only talk about how we can best improve the sharing of good practice, but we also have the opportunity to share what’s working within our own organisations and to hear from others about what has and what hasn’t worked in theirs.

One of the topics we spoke about during the meeting was how we’re using the project’s @GPWales Twitter account, and it was really great to hear how everyone at the was thinking about whether the tools that we use are appropriate for our audience, rather than expecting our audience to use the tools that we use.

We also spoke about how powerful email still is, which is interesting as it can be easy to forget that email is still a vitally important way of publicising good practice when we’re all engaging with new social media too.

As Dave Coplin of Microsoft says in this BBC article, “Everything has its place and it’s really understanding which is the right tool for the job.”

– Dyfrig