Tag Archives: networking

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

Why we love Open Space Technology

If you’ve never come across the concept of Open Space Technology before and you’re familiar with a formal style of hosting meetings, it can seem quite daunting to have to facilitate or even participate in a session that uses Open Space.

This style of facilitating fits our ethos

Our ethos is that ‘We work with people and organisations and not for them’.

Open Space Technology is a style of facilitation that allows a group of individuals to be completely self-organised in reaching goals. This is achieved with barely any input from the facilitator, who will do little more than outline the guiding principles of Open Space Technology, introduce the over-arching topic/theme/purpose of the meeting and then let the group get on with it. This technique has been used around the world in meetings of 5 to 2000 people.

There is no formal agenda and no ground rules, except for the Law of Two Feet, that is: “If at any time during our time together you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing, use your two feet, go someplace else.”  (Harrison Owen)

Owen’s Tedx Talk Dancing with Shiva (or Sandy, or Katrina)’  is a great starting point for any facilitator or practitioner interested in this method.

We’ve used this technique at several network events

We’ve used this technique several times including at our All Wales Residential Network in 2012, during a session at WCVA’s annual staff day and most recently at our Regional Participation Networks in October.

This technique is excellent because it really allows anyone who attends a session to speak about what they want. Open Space gives people a platform to do this without a facilitator poking their nose in (as it may be perceived) if a conversation goes off-topic or a discussion changes course, therefore shifting the power away from one person and sharing it amongst a group.

We’ve always had success using Open Space, at our most recent participation network events there was a wide variety of topics that people brought to the meetings that we held in Rhyl, Barry and Carmarthen this October:

  • How can we work more creatively – changing work structures
  • Fair treatment for Women in Wales – recognition of rights
  • Social housing has years of experience of engagement
  • Autism support for adults who don’t qualify for help
  • Getting information to the right people in the right way
  • Making our work newsworthy
  • How to engage young people as volunteers
  • Community initiatives – engaging with a poor community
  • Home or hospital – what is better for patients and staff?

The online community

There is a huge online community for facilitators and practitioners who use or are interested in Open Space Technology, which includes a very active e-mail discussion list and a Google Group – no organisation or individual owns or controls this collective information and it truly is an ever-expanding knowledge-base. I’ve been part of the e-mail discussion list for just over a month and although I haven’t contributed anything, during my time spend ‘lurking’ I have learnt so much about situations where Open Space has been used successfully. Anyone can read the archives from this list, which date back almost 20 years so there is a huge amount of user-generated information there!

It’s fun

OpenSpace1As a facilitator, it’s great to look around the room and observe meaningful, organic and productive discussions which are taking place.

As a participant, it’s wonderful to have the opportunity to talk about things in an informal environment. Even with careful facilitation with lots of open questions asked it can still be difficult to get your point across if other participants have a louder voice than you. In an open space environment, participants can use the law of two feet to move away from unproductive discussions.

Have you ever used Open Space Technology in your engagement work? Have you ever attended a session? Please share your experiences in the comments section below.

 – 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

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

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

More scrutiny!

As you may already know, we hold regional participation networks three times each year which are suitable for anyone working in the field of participation and citizen engagement. Attendees come from a range of different organisations in the public and third sector that focus on a variety of issues. These 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.

Each network event has a general theme and the theme of our events in February was Public involvement in scrutiny. The weather was against us but we were very pleased with the variety of organisations who were able to attend the events

We always begin each session with an icebreaker exercise which was a ‘graffiti wall’ on this occasion. We asked participants to think of as many definitions for the word scrutiny as they could think of, or examples of when they’ve seen scrutiny take place on television or the media. And this is what it looked like after the last of the 3 events:

Scrutiny Graffiti Wall
The most common definitions were accountability, checking and asking questions. Some interesting meanings also came up! “Newsnight”, “boring” and “sexy” also appear up there if you look closely! None of these answers are right or wrong and it’s clear that scrutiny, in itself is a very loaded word.

National Assembly for WalesAfter the icebreaker, a representative from the National Assembly for Wales outreach team gave a presentation about their scrutiny work and how they hold the Welsh Government to account. We also looked at some video evidence they produced as part of the Youth Entrepreneurship Inquiry. You can download their presentation here. Participants found the National Assembly’s presentation very informative, interesting and relevant as it outlined recent examples of inquiries carried out by Assembly committees and ways in which they’d involved the public in these inquiries. We particularly liked the use of info-graphics for presenting information in an accessible way (the Inquiry into Public Libraries in Wales is a particularly pretty example) and using ‘vignettes’ – an evidence gathering technique which we will feature in the next Participation Cymru newsletter.

We also heard from local scrutiny experts, David Lloyd from TPAS Cymru (North Wales), Rebecca David-Knight from the Centre for Public Scrutiny (South West Wales) and Hazel Ilet from Monmouthshire County Council (South East Wales).

In North Wales, David had a boxful of various items, all of these items represent scrutiny in some way, can you guess how…?!

  • A tie
  • A magnifying glass
  • A ping-pong ball
  • Goal posts

In South West Wales, Rebecca emphasised that public engagement is scrutiny and being able to challenge decisions is empowering. Scrutiny closes the gap in democratic accountability and good quality engagement is needed in order for a service to be successful, as services are reliant on its users and not the other way around!

In South East Wales, Hazel shared some case study examples including a call-in at a scrutiny committee meeting about Allocation of land for a travellers’ site where this scrutiny process identified flaws in the evidence supporting a decision that had been recently made. As a result of the public forum discussion, the decision was referred to the full council so this demonstrates the power that the public have in the scrutiny process. Monmouthshire also have a public open forum on the agenda of every scrutiny committee meeting.

Group discussion

We always end our participation network events with a group discussion followed by a participatory evaluation technique. We used ‘hearts, bodies and minds’ and a summary of the evaluations can be found here:

We are very grateful to Caryl, Lowri and Rhys from the National Assembly for Wales’ outreach team and our other speakers for their valuable input into these events.

The next round of participation networks are in May 2014 and the theme will be co-production in public services. For more information or to book a space please visit our website. Please be aware that these events are free to attend so do fill up very quickly!

–          Sarah