Some Notes and Comments

Comments regarding the workshop in Bishop’s Castle

There were comments collected at the end of the workshop and recorded (approximately 2/3rd of way through) in the following link

https://sedett.wordpress.com/theworkshop-action/

Other comments were received informally after the meeting from participants & members of the local community:

We have shared many meetings, in many places – there is never enough time but we needed at least 3 full days together, with travel on days either side, for the type of work we shared in Bishop’s Castle’

‘It was wonderful to see another successful Pathways’ international workshop in our town – it really does help widen our horizons’

Was really good to take part in the meeting. I’m still thinking in a lot of possible projects, the whole meeting excited my creativity and imagination on business in the social field.’

‘The forum event was very well received – we need to have another at next year’s festival’

‘The informal spaces, such as at breakfast, gave us a real chance to share our ideas about what a social enterprise is – the partners are all learners and we really need more input & time to discuss the simple practical issues’

RB  ‘My guess is that this workshop, when the events sponsored by the project through Pathways members are included, directly connected to approximately 16% of the local population. The forum & meetings with local social enterprise organisers involved many of the town’s key ‘shakers & movers’.’

‘Thank you for bringing the group to Bishop’s Castle. As locals, we are often so busy with our own activities that we do not create time to consider the way we do things and the way we relate what we do to other local people. Meeting an international group as we did helps us understand ourselves just a little bit more’

9w  ‘Is Three Tuns beer exported – please ask them to send me some’

At the meeting in Seville it was proposed that partners be given an opportunity to comment on the workshop events in Wrexham and Bishop’s Castle.

A form was circulated to those involved and it received one full reply, with another partial response and further notes emailed after the deadline.

The full reply and the emailed notes are published here.

First: the full reply from Dr Sarah Evans

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1. Produce a reflective summary describing the whole process involved in creating and delivering the February Workshop: ‘From vision to valediction’. What elements can be observed?

Wrexham Section of the workshop
I was involved in booking rooms and arranging food for the workshop
I arranged the Social Enterprise dinner and invited all of the guests and arranged the food menu. With colleagues I arranged for financial support for the dinner from local companies
I arranged the visit to the Tyn y capel pub
I was also involved in facilitating the workshop relating to interview data analysis.
Reflection on this section of the workshop

Overall I felt things went to plan Generally I found everything easy to organize. I really enjoyed the dinner and felt it was a useful opportunity to promote the project. The interview data analysis workshop went well and by getting all of the interviewers on board we were able to provide an initial framework against which interviews were coded. This achieved its purpose and was evident in the data received.

Bishops Castle section of the workshop Comments were provided at the time on the majority of the activities.

I liked the visit to the Kerry hills and I know that pathways ID have also emphasized the sense of place and this was a great way to do it. This needs to be brought back to the SE agenda though, local needs and local context is key.

Forum This may have been better as a presentation/answer session. Most of the people there already knew about the project. Some of the group felt very uncomfortable and possibly under prepared.

Concert I really liked this even, it was good having an opportunity to chat to the community, again though I thought many of the group did not enjoy it.

Interviewing local organisations Again this was great and I learnt a lot, however, if we had recorded the data and focused on a few of the successful organisations we could have used the data in the project (a missed opportunity)

Overall Started to get to know everyone, but we had little time to sit back and think and realize how the activites could be part of the learning for the project.

At times it all felt a little too controlled (especially socially).

Journey sticks I really did not enjoy this and I felt like I was in Sunday school. However, the technique of recording feelings, thought through other medium or a mixture is a really positive experience; maybe a blog, vlog, diary, photos, momentos to bring the activity up to date and appeal to the correct audience.

 

2.1 Aims, Targets & Objectives * These are of 2 types: (1) the shared project objectives as described in the application form, (2) specifically local concerns (such as ‘raising organisational profile).These will shape the following answers

I would like to do this as a group

2.2 Preparatory actions

Book a venue

2.3 Elements of the conference

Presentation of the results

involvement of the organisations which were involved

Trial of the learning activities

2.4 Consultation processes with other local actors & SEDETT partners

Work with the WSEN etc.

 

Second the email message and response from Prof Chris Fortune

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I have tried to open the google form tonight at 21.20 hours to upload my reflections for the SEDETT reflective exercise but I find that iit has been closed.

I assumed the form would remain available until the end (midnight)t on Fri 21 July but it seems I was mistaken. Family commitments away from home have prevented me from accessing the Internet any earlier today.

I attach a file with my reflections on the BC workshop as it may be possible that they could still be considered.

I am aware that there was a part 2 to the form but I cannot now respond.

I would respond to part 2 of the form if it were to be re-opened. Best Chris F

The workshop in Bishops Castle included the following activities :

1. Preparatory work Task

Partners were required to be able to discuss the nature of social enterprise in their home locations, develop an image of their organisation and suggest a structure for SPARC Reflections

The lack of immediately apparent link to the production of IO3 made it difficult to fully engage with this task.

A response was made and information gathered to enable a verbal contribution to be made on the nature of social enterprise in the UK at the workshop.

Insufficient information was available on SPARC to make detailed suggestions on its structure.

An organisational image was produced.

A lack of information / vision / context about the nature of IO3 at the start of the task added to the uncertainty of nature of the required response.

However, this exposure to uncertainty allowed a space to be experienced in which creativity could emerge.

Future Event Planning

Provide context / purpose /vision for the activity so that participants can absorb the nature of the concepts and provide more focused responses that better link into the following workshop activities.

Allow adequate time in the workshops for feedback on requested tasks and be thorough in seeking contributions from individual partners so as to reinforce the value of the work that they had done.

2. Thurs Eve Meal

– Boars Head Activity – Required to attend a whole group evening meal . Reflections – this event provided an opportunity to meet some of the partners in a social setting and become more familiar with them as individuals.

A useful activity for continuing the process of individuals in the large partnership group coming together and starting to build confidence, comfort and trust in each other’s company.

Future Event Planning – consider organising an initial whole group social event in which individuals can circulate more freely and be aware that alcohol may cause concerns to some partners.

3. Day 1

– morning Activities – initial outline of the day’s tasks focused on doing activities and their timeline and as a result it appeared to be pressured from the start due to the needs of deadlines for meetings and food.

Initial tasks included:- (a) a public speaking exercise, (b) an introduction to journey sticks as an aide to enable creative learning, (c) a tour of surrounding countryside, (d)small group work in the town to explore locals engagement with social enterprise and promote SEDETT activities .

Reflections

(a) The introductory remarks to this task were challenging to partners and could be seen as not being supportive especially for those partners with English as a second language.

Being taken out of an individual’s comfort zone maybe part of developing an approach to creative learning but consideration needs to be given to the stress and pressure on individuals not used to public speaking and the comparatively little time made available for individuals to become comfortable with each other.

More time needed to be devoted to making the link to the required preparatory activities and in seeking feedback / contributions from partners.

(b) The use of a journey stick as an aide to provoke reflections on the planned workshop activities so as to identify learning was a novelty that seemed dated and contrived.

A series of photographs and a verbal commentary through the use of a mobile phone or the development of a daily written reflective log could serve the same purpose.

The emphasis seemed to be placed on the creative process of compiling a journey stick rather than its purpose as an aid to help shape reflections on experience so as to identify learning.

The significance of self-reflection to foster learning needed to be emphasised so as to encourage greater engagement and overcome resistance to be asked to leave an individual’s comfort zone .

(c) The tour of the surrounding countryside sought to provide an experience of being in an enclosed community within an isolated rural location.

This exercise provided context for later tasks within the town of BC itself.

The use of technology could have provided some of the same information in a more efficient manner.

More time is needed to draw out feedback from participants following activities so as to enable learning to be identified.

(d) Good opportunity to work together with other partners in small groups so as to explain to locals about the nature of the SEDETT project and its planned activities in the town.

It was good to appreciate cultural differences within the group as some felt it inappropriate to approach strangers in the street and engage them in conversation.

The activity also provided an opportunity to develop soft skills related to communication, self-confidence, listening skills, enthusiasm for a task, diplomacy, tact and horizon scanning skills in terms of assessing the local enterprises operating in the Town and talking with local people to identify opportunities that social enterprise could make to the local community in terms of transport links to hospitals, youth and child care provision.

The opportunity for the small group to make its own informal lunch arrangements allowed much freer conversation on the above experiences to happen and was reinforced by engaging in conversation with local district and county councillors about the support the local authority could provide to enable social enterprise to become sustainable in the community.

This encounter was valuable to overseas partners in the group who were not familiar with the UK system of local government.

Although feedback was required on the above encounters and some opportunity was provided to develop presentational and verbal skills it was time pressured and lacked obvious purpose and rigour in the way in which it was facilitated due to the need to be present at the next activity – the SEDETT forum.

The benefit of an unfocused exploration of a topic can aid creative learning but it needs sufficient time to be made available and a skilled facilitator to then draw out the learning achieved from the experience.

Full engagement in the planned activities did however provide an opportunity to develop / refine individual soft skills and in particular I benefitted from the opportunity to practice my active learning skills.

Future Event Planning

Ensure initial comments provide context / purpose for the activity in relation to the project so as to build engagement and provide motivation and ensure such comments could not be seen as being threatening to individuals in terms the development of the group and the comfort level of individuals within the group.

Allow more time / space for individuals to inter act in small groups in which they maybe more comfortable for individuals especially if English is a 2nd language. Ensure full use is made of new technology to provide efficient means of information sharing.

Day 1 – Afternoon /evening Activities

(i) Attend and participate in a public forum about the benefits of social enterprise

(ii) Act as voluntary labour to create a concert venue and then staff the event and provide the audience for the event Reflections

(i) This event provided an opportunity to formulate and express and share thoughts / experiences about social enterprise in the local and the individual’s home contexts and allowed some discussion to be generated from others on the impact such enterprises can make on communities such as those found in BC.

This exposure required the clear expression of thoughts in a concise manner and was stressful to some overseas partners.

The limited engagement in the event by BC residents was disappointing given the build-up and stress introduced about the event by the facilitator but nonetheless the exposure provided an opportunity to refine active listening skills and be assertive and self- confident.

Overall a stronger structure to the discussions at the Forum would have enabled more to have been absorbed.

(ii) This event attempted to recreate the experience of partners volunteering their time which is reflected in the real world experience of running a social enterprise.

Such an exercise is difficult to set up without some element of persuasion and consequent falseness.

Partners were I felt placed under an obligation to do something and were strongly directed in what needed to be done and how to do it.

I learned that this may not be the best way to manage / get the most out of voluntary labour. Similarly I felt there was a feeling of being obliged to financially support the event through buying tickets to attend whether as an individual I wanted to attend the concert or not.

However, the event did provide an opportunity to further develop my teamwork skills and my initiative taking in terms of implementing a project.

The activity also provided an opportunity to see how enthusiasm and attitude for a task can help ensure that tasks are allocated and that they are completed on time and to specification. I experienced that maintaining enthusiasm for a task can help motivate others who maybe volunteering their time to achieve the task.

Future Event Planning

(i) Facilitating an open ended public event requires skills to ensure that contributions are focused on pre-determined themes / subject areas. This requires preparation and planning. The disposition of the room to facilitate discussion also needs to be considered as well as the stress on speakers with English as a 2nd language. The event also needs to have a strong element of feedback and discussion for the partners concerned so as learning can be identified and not be time pressured with having to move on to the next activity. Planning and the realisation of how long it takes to move from one activity to another is a real issue in future event planning and there was a feeling now of too much being squeezed into too little time.

Future event planning needs to consider the effort participants put in and not leave them tired out so more down time / free time needs to be introduced for partners to consolidate their own thoughts, recover energy and focus and also allow small groups to develop and informally consider their experiences and subsequent learning.

(ii) Organising and planning an event that is to be executed on the basis of voluntary effort needs to appreciate what is in it for the volunteers concerned and it needs to be led by individuals who have enthusiasm and a positive attitude so as to maintain volunteer motivation.

Volunteers need to be thanked for their efforts and made to feel part of the decision making process and their efforts valued. Planning such an event needs to allow sufficient time for action to take place without any stress or pressure being put on the voluntary staff. Planning should make allowances for the physical effort involved in moving around the location and more consideration given to volunteers becoming tired out and needing time to re-energise.

Day 2 Morning & Afternoon Activities

(i) Feedback session on activities / experiences from day 1

(ii) Small group work to inter-act with social entrepreneurs/social enterprises in BC

(iii) Feedback sessions and discussions Reflections

(i) Good opportunity to listen to others articulating their experiences but limited due to time pressures to get organised for meetings with local social enterprises and arrangements for food at lunch time. There seemed to be no choice about when, were or what to eat at either lunch or evening meal time and this caused a feeling of being in a pressure cooker environment that was over structured. More could have been made of the feedback sessions so as to draw out and identify issues faced by social enterprises when relying upon voluntary staff to deliver their goods and services.

(ii) & (iii) Good to work in small groups which helped develop trust and communication and understanding between partners. The activity allowed partners to further develop their verbal and active listening skills during the encounter with the local social enterprise practitioners. The inter action with the social entrepreneurs provided insight into the significance of the champion / leader of the organisation, their enthusiasm and competence as individuals as well as an awareness of how important it was for social entrepreneurs to be constantly scanning the horizon for both funding opportunities and for enterprise opportunities. In addition the accounts of how the organisations relied upon voluntary help brought home how important it was for the enterprise to recognise that such volunteers need to get something out of the activity for themselves otherwise such efforts may become dissipated over time. Once again the opportunity to provoke discussion and explore the variation in practices that were discovered was attempted but was not fully taken up due to time pressures on the feedback session and the promise that written comments would be required from the partners at the end of the workshop.

Future Event Planning

Consider how activities / encounters provided in relation to an individual IO could add to the rich picture of data being collected in relation to other IOs and seek to involve others in the partnership in the planning processes for the event. Strike a balance between organising too many activities / tasks and space for creative learning to be identified. Recognise different levels of energy within individuals within the group and do not try and do too much. Do not over regiment food sessions so that they become obligatory and recognise that individuals may want more free / down time to absorb experiences and re charge batteries.

Day 3 Activities

(i) Feedback and discussion sessions Reflections

(i) Good opportunity to develop an in depth informal opportunity for individuals to organise their reflections, identify their learning and refine their public speaking skills.

However, emphasis was placed on capturing such thoughts on paper in a series of bullet points. This is challenging for partners with English as a 2nd language as well as UK based partners as skills in writing are needed. In addition expressing thoughts and reflections in such a concise manner risks losing some material, emphasis and communication through non-verbal body language. Once again the feedback session seemed to be pressurised by the need to be at a location for a mid- day meal.

Future Event Planning

 

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