Reflections and review of 2019

This year Just Ideas turns twelve years old! As we celebrate heading into our teenage years, we’re glad of this opportunity to take stock of where we are and where we want to be. We have been exploring how Just Ideas grows and evolves, and have worked with a number of new clients and partners as well as continued to develop existing partnerships and relationships. We’ve invested in some really helpful business coaching to reflect on how we work as a team, and on what the future might hold. It’s a work in progress but has reinforced the value of carving out space to reflect and enter into this next phase consciously with our newly expanded team and freshly articulated mission:

We believe in supporting people to realise their power and voice. We value connecting people so they can create positive change locally and globally.

We are still a small core staff team but excitingly have begun to develop the Just Ideas Collaborative: working with a team of associates who are taking more of a developmental role – contributing to seeking out opportunities and taking a lead on projects. We’re working hard to consolidate this ‘offer’, making it a fun, fulfilling, flexible and nurturing space to be in while expanding the Just Ideas team and capacity. We are still all about working in partnership – currently working with WSA Community Consultants developing our health engagement and patient voice offer, and with IVAR supporting learning about community leadership. Watch this space! If you are interested in working with us, get in touch.

At the beginning of 2019 the team (with the support of partners, clients, associates and friends and family) coped amazingly with the challenge of Helen being out of action for a while following a brain haemorrhage. Helen is pretty much back to full capacity now but we think the experience has had a positive impact on the way we work – as individuals and a team, with people stepping into new and developing roles, and stepping back from others! The experience reinforced the benefits of the way Just Ideas works and the way this attracts clients and partners with shared values – working in partnership, strengths based, grounded in reality, valuing the people at the heart of everything.

A big thank you to Natalie Ganpatsingh (Nature Nurture) for the amazing artwork summing up our year and capturing its creation in a half minute film here! If you want a bit more detail on some of the things we’ve been up to, please read on for a summary.

Use the headings below to find out more about our involvement in:

Shaping Health

NHS PPV Training team

NHS PPV Training team

Increasing the influence and impact of NHS England patient and public voice partners.

Building on training successfully developed and delivered with WSA Community Consultants up to March 2019, a new series of Patient and Public Voice (PPV) partner training got underway in September 2019 and will run until March 2020 with courses in London and Leeds. Feedback from participants has been excellent with 95% of participants saying they felt that they would be more effective in their role and 99% advising they would recommend the course to others:

“The course was so very well run and facilitated. It was fun, informative, balanced and very engaging. Thank you so much.”

“Fantastic training – broke down information so it’s easy to understand and interact with.”

Advocacy in action, Geneva 2019

Supporting people with noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) to advocate and influence – Our Views, Our Voices programme of the NCD Alliance

In June 2019 Helen (Just Ideas) and Wendy Sugarman (WSA Community Consultants) spent three days in Geneva, working with the Non Communicable Disease Alliance, training people living with non-communicable diseases (PLWNDCs) as peer trainers to train other PLWNDCs as advocates for change in their communities, their regions and internationally. Participants came from 10 different countries and are now delivering training in their home countries from Ghana to Mexico to Indonesia, with the help of the training resource we co-produced to support them. We are providing remote support and opportunities to share learning through a series of webinars.

Community voice in Cornwall maternity services – Community Engagement Training for Kernow Maternity Voices Partnership

In partnership with WSA Community Consultants we supported members of Kernow Maternity Voices Partnership to build their skills as community research volunteers by sharing experience; exploring engagement and research techniques; and mapping forthcoming opportunities to put skills into action. Early in 2020 we’ll be working with the group again, helping them look at the information they’ve gathered and explore ways of communicating it to system leads to make a difference to maternity services across Cornwall.

Evaluating a maternal mental health campaign in relation to changes to the pathway/provision of services.

Working as part of the WSA Community Consultants team on the second phase of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance’s Everyone’s Business campaign. We undertook fieldwork and desk research and facilitated workshops across the UK contributing to the report bringing together the learning so far and highlighting key changes. Working with really inspiring people collaborating for change on an issue close to many of their hearts – highlighting the importance of a collaborative approach, and of the contribution of women and families with lived experience of maternal mental health issues. We’ve been involved in scoping the next phase of the evaluation and look forward to see what next year holds.

Building Health Partnerships – supporting leadership and collaboration for system transformation with IVAR

The NHS Long Term Plan commits local healthcare systems to working in a new, integrated way, with a focus on prevention and reducing health inequalities through working more closely with communities and voluntary organisations. Our work for IVAR, funded by NHS England and National Lottery Community Fund, facilitates relationship building between health agencies, local government, voluntary sector providers and communities. All of which is essential for the leaders charged with bringing this ambitious vision to life. Helen has worked with the IVAR team in a number of areas from Calderdale to Dorset, and seen initiatives including young people in Halifax driving change in the way people of their age connect with their local health, heritage and natural environment, pioneering meetings that take place while hiking up (and down!) hills.

Be Well Connected – Joining up for greater wellbeing in Hart

Over eighty people attended this workshop bringing together community groups and organisations to explore improved wellbeing in Hart. Facilitated by Just Ideas (Helen and Richard), and organised by Hart Voluntary Action and Hart District Council, the event yielded a huge number of ideas and opportunities to progress working together to improve the wellbeing of the community.

Acting on Climate Change

InterClimate Network

Reading Model Climate Conference 2019

Climate Voices – Model Climate Conferences

Working with InterClimate Network we have co-ordinated and facilitated Reading’s Schools Model Climate Conference for the last five years, and delivered similar events in Bristol, London, Cheltenham, Solihull and Gloucester. It has been inspiring to work with young people, teachers, local climate change actors in each of these areas. The events coincide with the annual UN Conference of the Parties – this year COP25 in Madrid. Our work with InterClimate Network has expanded with outreach activities to local Reading schools including running workshops for students. Mary has taken the lead on this for the Just Ideas team, boosting the profile and the scope of the Reading event. Richard and Helen join ICN’s (and Just Ideas associate) Michila Critchley in the chairing roles. The Local Action Summit element then brings students together with local businesses, charities and authorities to develop action plans for climate change adaptation and mitigation.

‘Brilliant conference. Really opened the students’ minds about the seriousness of climate change.’ (Teacher)

Reading Climate Change Strategy engagement

Supporting Reading Climate Action Network’s Climate Action, Just Ideas and Associates planned and facilitated an energetic successful launch event with 160 participants from community, business and education across Reading, engaging and inspiring them to work with members of RCCP’s Board to define action plans for the development of Reading’s 3rd Climate Change Strategy. It was a great example of the strength of the Associate model – drawing in a number of facilitators to support the event, and local artists and activists.

“It was an excellent event. I’m really pleased that we brought you in. You did a great job on the day…and all the prep before. I couldn’t have hoped for more: there was a great buzz and the groups started binding nicely.” (Chair of RCCP)

Supporting Learning

Valuing the Ocean - Learning Day

Valuing the Ocean – Learning Day Seascape

Valuing the Ocean – Collaboration and communication across the marine sector

Just Ideas has worked with Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation as learning partner and evaluator of its Valuing the Ocean programme, which is working towards the conservation and sustainable management of the ocean for the wellbeing of people now and in future. This innovative set of initiatives and experiments hypothesises that people will act to protect what they value, and that to bring about significant change we need an ecosystem of organisations with different skills and interests working together. Our role as critical friends has involved facilitation, research and evaluation over the last eighteen months. We are working towards a final report of the work which will feed into future priorities as the programme pivots towards an international outlook in 2020, the year of the UN Ocean conference.

How do we know we are making a difference? – Training for Big Locals

Local Trust commissioned Just Ideas and WSA Community Consultants to deliver an introductory course to give residents leading on transformation of their communities an overview of measuring change and why it’s important. This practical course provided a tool to help Big Local areas think through the vision for their area and collect relevant evidence of change, developing a participatory a theory of change with their communities. 57 participants joined courses facilitated Richard, our associate Charlotte Pace and Helen in Birmingham, Bristol and York.

“Best training I have been to as long as I have been with Big Local!” (Participant)

Co-production of an evaluation framework for the UCL Centre for Co-production in Health Research

The UCL Centre for Co-production in Health Research exists to support health professionals, researchers and patients to unlock new ways to address long-standing health issues. We worked with all those involved with the Centre’s work to develop an evaluation framework. A blog by Lizzie Cain from the Centre summarises what was learned and gained from the process:

“With the help of Just Ideas and the experiences of our Phase 1 Pilot projects, we have a lot of learning about how to co-produce – what really helps, what can be difficult, how to facilitate decision-making, and much more.”

Community Leadership Academy – Evaluation and learning support partner

We are excited to be working in partnership with IVAR providing evaluation and learning support to Local Trust’s innovative Community Leadership Academy over the next three years. Our work in 2019 focused on scoping and understanding the context for the CLA, and talking to those involved in the pilot, and we look forward to working with all partners in 2020, developing an evaluation and learning plan that will include participatory film making in communities, and working alongside the participants, coaches and delivery partners, and Local Trust to contribute to and share learning about and from the CLA.

Moving into mentoring

A new service offering for Just Ideas, responding to requests from voluntary sector clients with who we have developed longstanding relationships. Just Ideas’ Associates Leila Baker and Graeme Fancourt have been working with individual staff members of a national homeless charity in a mentoring role, supporting their development and growth into new or challenging roles. We are looking forward to reflecting on and developing this mentoring support – let us know if your organisation might be interested, and watch this space!

Employee engagement

Developed by Richard working with a number of longstanding Just Ideas clients, we’ve supported staff engagement through design and analysis of staff wellbeing and satisfaction surveys. Bringing our experience of participatory engagement and online research methods together to generate surveys that get to the bottom of how engaged, happy and well staff are, and give opportunities to have a voice about future opportunities. Complements our face-to-face teambuilding and strategy development support offer.

Working with Communities

Rethinking Home – Engaging transient and new communities in Big Local

Richard, Graeme and Marilyn Taylor co-authored Rethinking Home for Local Trust, following research with a range of Big Local areas into the experience of, and potential for, resident-led partnership working in areas to engage with ‘new’ or transient groups or communities in their areas. We worked with 11 Big Local areas across England drawing on their experience of engaging transient communities through immersion in events, facilitated sessions and in meetings with partnership groups. These communities include people who are recent immigrants, are transient due to housing tenure or those who are passing through because they are following seasonal work or are part of a gypsy or traveller community. The report describes how choices around values, approaches and structures can make a difference to successful engagement by Big Local areas.

Volunteer management training

In 2019 Helen has continued to deliver this very popular course for Talk Action which helps those working with volunteers develop ways of recruiting, managing, engaging and supporting volunteers from across their communities in new and exciting ways, building the capacity of organisations, and creating valuable and appealing volunteer roles in the process.

‘Inspiring, informative and memorable’ (Participant from Amnesty International) ‘Excellent – extremely interesting, educational and good fun. Brilliantly interactive!’ (Participant from Welsh Government)

Sosolaso and capacity building with Gambian NGOs

Just Ideas went international again towards the end of 2019 with Helen volunteering as part of a team from charity Caplor Horizons facilitating capacity building and leadership training with two different local organisations in The Gambia. There was a team-building and strategy day with Tarud, an indigenous community based organisation supporting a number of livelihood, development, environmental and educational projects. We then spent three days with United Purpose supporting collaboration between six women’s marketing federations coming together as Sosolaso, as part of a wider programme of nutritional sustainability and bio-fortification of food crops. Working in Wollof, Mandinka and English, we had a fantastic team of facilitators and an amazing group of women working to support the health and wellbeing in their communities, and the liveliest role-plays and most musical reporting back of all workshops this year!

Big Local Connects event 2019

Scene from Big Local Connects 2019

Big Local rep for Local Trust

Helen continues to be a rep for two Big Local areas – in Southampton and High Wycombe. This light-touch support role involves working alongside a team of local residents as they explore and implement initiatives to engage the local community in making their area an even better place to live.

Big Local – Measuring change support

Just Ideas is working with Local Trust alongside Big Local areas supporting work that will these areas to assess and demonstrate the difference they are making. Richard has enjoyed working with Brookside Big Local in Telford and Barrowcliff Big Local Scarborough building on the theory of change approach that was integral to our training workshops earlier in the year, and working with Graeme in Barrowcliff. Richard and Leila began work with Worle Big Local in December and look forward to seeing how evaluation can be integrated into their new three year plan as well as using creative approaches to measuring change!

Building Inclusion

Launchpad – Overcoming barriers to education and employment, and fresh food!

Richard worked with Launchpad, Reading’s homelessness prevention charity, on a number of timely evaluation and research projects over the last year, supporting their work identifying and mitigating realities for homeless people in the Reading area. This included assessing and increasing access to fresh and nutritious food, and exploring how to overcome potential barriers for Launchpad’s clients in accessing education, employment and training opportunities.

We are now working with Launchpad to review volunteering within the organisation – learning from what works well and how volunteers can add to the capacity and skills of the organisation in future.

Review of volunteering at the Connection at St Martin’s

Richard enjoyed working with the Connection as it targets doubling its volunteer contribution to homelessness support in London over the next five years. We reviewed the organisation’s volunteering systems, approach, policies and procedures; benchmarking the organisation against the Investing in Volunteers standards and making recommendations for a refreshed approach to volunteering. It was particularly exciting to help them explore how people who are of have experienced homelessness can take up volunteering opportunities to build their skills and confidence, and also to share their story.

Making money work better to tackle homelessness – Review of funding for St-Martins-in-the-Fields Charity

Just Ideas worked with the Charity in January 2019 to undertake a review of how funding is used to support frontline workers and homelessness organisations to ensure that resources are used as effectively as possible. The opportunities and funding that the Charity delivers have grown considerably and trustees want to consolidate the Charity’s work to date and plan for future growth.

Evaluation of Youth Concern Aylesbury, Big Lottery Reaching Communities Project

This evaluation was commissioned by Youth Concern at the end of the first year of Big Lottery Reaching Communities funding. Richard worked with young people, staff and volunteers (as well as trustees and external partners) at Youth Concern to provide a qualitative insight into the difference Youth Concern has made to the lives of the young people it supports. It identified priorities for further development over the next years of the project and the Next Step project – Youth Concern’s supported accommodation project: a 10-bed property in Aylesbury aiming to provide a safe home for young people for up to 1 year.

And finally…

It has been a real pleasure looking back on a packed year to create this summary, revisiting our work with such inspiring partners, organisations and communities. We hope it gives you a flavour of the growing scope of Just Ideas. We look forward to a 2020 that brings new opportunities, consolidates existing relationships and develops new partnerships. If you want to be part of that, please do get in touch. We’d also be interested in what you think of this review – do leave a comment if you’ve made it to the end!

May 2020 bring renewed hope and vigour to those connecting and using their voice to work for social justice.

Richard, Helen and Mary, the Just Ideas team