Tag Archives: participation cymru

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!


Not even a hint of rain


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


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.



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


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


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!)


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


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


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…


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.



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!


Our radio debut!

RadioCardiffRadio Cardiff 97.8FM is Cardiff’s community radio station, which is a type of radio service that offers broadcasting beyond commercial and public service. They broadcast content that is popular and relevant to a local and specific audience which can often be overlooked.

Diverse Cardiff is live every Tuesday 13:30-15:00 and Participation Cymru were asked to come and speak on the show. I thought this was a really exciting opportunity so I volunteered myself for this; I’m really good at chatting about our work so I thought: why not?!

Just before I arrived at the studio I remembered the ‘Confidence at Public Events’ training course that I attended last year and it definitely came in handy at this point! I particularly remembered the part of the course about overcoming fear…

  1. The fear will never go away as long as I continue to grow
  2. The only way to get rid of the fear of doing something is to go out and do it
  3. The only way to feel better about myself is to go out…and do it
  4. Not only am I going to experience fear whenever I’m on unfamiliar territory, but so is everyone else.
  5. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with the underlying fear that comes from a feeling of helplessness

(taken from Susan Jeffers ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’)

I was clearly nervous before I started speaking but within a few minutes I began to really enjoy myself and didn’t want to stop talking!

The format of the show is very informal, chatty and conversational, with it being so close to St. David’s Day all of the music played on the show was by welsh artists, so I had the pleasure of listening to some Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci & Super Furry Animals whilst I was waiting.

I began by introducing Participation Cymru, who we are and what we do, then I spoke about some pieces of work we have recently been involved with and I finished by speaking about ways in which people can get involved with us, by attending our training, networks and endorsing the National Principles for Public Engagement. I also mentioned some local opportunities for the people of Cardiff to be involved, I signposted to websites such as www.askcardiff.com and http://www.thewaleswewant.co.uk/

Diverse Cardiff are always looking for guests to speak on the show, so if you have an interesting local project that you’d like to speak about then click here to contact Diverse Cardiff.

Here are a few tips for any first time radio guests:

  • You’re just having a general chat about work; imagine the table with the microphone isn’t there.
  • Speak in Plain English – don’t use long sentences or jargon-words which you might stumble on and if you do stumble – just start over again – the chances are no one will notice (apart from yourself!)
  • Be prepared – you could even write some questions that you want the presenters to ask and send them in advance so you know what to expect
  • Remember time seems a lot quicker when you’re actually speaking – what you think may take 2 minutes to say could actually take 5 minutes

You can listen to the entire show here or just Participation Cymru’s interview here; the other guest was Chrissie Nicholls from Welsh Women’s Aid.

–          Sarah

What have we been up to in November?

November has been a busy month for Participation Cymru, we have had a mini move in Baltic House and we’re settling into our new room on the opposite side of the building, looking over Cardiff’s famous Coal Exchange from a slightly different angle than what we’re used to!

Jon deskBesides sorting through boxes and moving furniture it’s been business as usual for us: Mandy has been facilitating an Action Learning Set for Gwalia while Siobhan has been developing a training session on Consultation Language and Style which is being delivered for Rhondda Cynon Taf & Merthyr Tydfil Local Service Board. Sarah attended the Local Government Data Unit Conference in Swansea to promote the work of Good Practice Wales and the Public Engagement Working Group and Jon has completed his Public Engagement: theory and practice accredited training course. Jon has promised to write a blog post talking about what he learnt at the course – so watch this space!

We were also lucky enough to be invited to Barod Community Interest Company’s launch event at the National Assembly for Wales. The launch was held over lunchtime and included speakers from the National Energy Savings Trust (NEST), All Wales People First and a fun participative session facilitated by Dynamix. The session used the ‘traffic light voting’ participatory method which is also featured in this month’s Participation Cymru Newsletter. The event was sponsored by Mark Isherwood AM, who chairs the cross-party group on Disability.

Throughout November we have been recruiting members to CSSIW’s National Advisory Board. This is a great opportunity for carers, service users and volunteers to be involved with the way care and social services are inspected in Wales. Members of the National Advisory Board will give their comments and opinions at a really important level where they can make real changes. They will help to suggest solutions to the findings of CSSIW’s work and the challenges facing care and social services.  They will have an input into CSSIW’s future work plans and Chief Inspector’s Annual Report.

If you are interested in applying then it’s not too late! If you have any questions about it, then please get in touch with us. We will be happy to help. More information is on our website here.

Keep up to date with Participation Cymru by following us on Twitter or be subscribing to our newsletter.

–          Sarah

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.


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