Welcome to our look back on 2022.
The image for our review of 2022 is mycelium, the underground network of branching fungal threads that heal the soil and facilitate the sharing of nutrients between plants and trees. As we reflect on 2022, we realise how much has been made possible by sharing ideas, collaborating and supporting each other. We look forward to more mycelium-like growth in 2023.
As an organisation working towards social justice, growth may seem an unlikely theme in a year characterised by decline in so many ways – environmental breakdown, worsening inequality, economic recession, international conflict and political turmoil.
At Just Ideas, we’ve asked: how can we recognise the things that are moving in a positive direction, even in the challenging context we’re working in? Our review takes this lens to our work.
In 2022, not only has Just Ideas grown, we’re also deeply grateful to have supported others as they grow. We’ve valued our collaboration with so many brilliant people and organisations.
Here’s a whistle-stop tour of what we’ve been up to in our 15th year. In the spirit of sharing tools and information, we’ve linked to examples and approaches which we hope you and your teams find helpful.
Use the headings below to read about how we have been:
Growing Just Ideas
In 2022, we’ve grown:
Our confidence in the benefits of a small staff team working with a network of highly skilled associates around the country, the Just Ideas Collaborative. This approach allows us to create flexible teams specifically suited to a project. We nurture and grow the Just Ideas Collaborative with regular gatherings to learn new skills, share learning, and think about opportunities for the future.
Our team and capacity, with new associates joining us, bringing specialisms in environmental education, neurodiversity, disability, creative design, mentoring, wellbeing and social finance. We’ve been able to offer expert facilitators – sometimes at short notice – to local authorities, health partners and charities, online and in person. And we’re working more with specialists to support our work: the finance and accountancy team at Green and Purple, copywriter Sophie de Albuquerque, and wellness coach and consultant Lillian Lartey.
Our support offer to include:
- a quarterly ‘Ideas Collaborative’ session for people working in or wanting to work in social justice. Bringing together people in the voluntary, community sector, social businesses and public sectors, we inspire and learn from each other, generating ideas to take back to our work.
- a holistic package of bespoke support to help organisations thrive in changing contexts. Could you benefit from our mix of coaching, mentoring, strategic development and facilitation? Please get in touch if you’re interested or know an organisation that might be.
- an alternative interactive way to present research findings – see the outcomes of our work with Cornwall Public Health below for an example.
Growing our partnerships
We’re delighted to continue working in partnership with WSA Community Consultants on health initiatives supporting patient and public voice, with the Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR) delivering the Community Leadership Academy learning and evaluation for Local Trust, and in a new partnership led by Ipsos on a national listening exercise.
We’ve worked with so many wonderful clients this year – from local authorities and teams in NHS England, through national charities and think tanks, to small community organisations working for change in their local areas.
We’ve worked with young people, with people with lived experience of neurodiversity, autism and learning disabilities, with boards of trustees, senior management teams and whole organisations.
We’ve worked alongside people working to address climate change, support community power, tackle homelessness and hunger and create better and fairer health systems.
We remain committed to supporting and amplifying the voices of those working for social and environmental justice locally, nationally and globally.
It’s been a pleasure to work alongside organisations growing their teams, capacity and confidence, as they emerge from lockdown and explore the new hybrid reality.
Community power think tank New Local invited us to help them explore how they embed their values as an expanding team. The four hybrid, whole-staff team sessions we facilitated enabled them to reflect on what their values mean, and to work towards an action plan to embed them in all aspects of their work.
We worked with the Senior Management Team at St-Martins-in-the-Fields Charity to develop a five-year strategic plan, in the context of worsening homelessness and great pressure on the sector. Our flexible support package included mentoring for leadership roles, executive coaching and facilitation support.
The learning log we shared helped the team recognise how far they’d come and how to move forward. We’re delighted to be continuing to support the charity as it beds in new team structures and co-designs new ways of being.
“I’m delighted that we’ve made so much progress over the last five months. A big thank you to the Just Ideas team for helping us get here!”
Kirsty Gurm, Head of Fundraising
Reflect Recharge is a facilitated support package that we developed for Local Trust alongside three Big Local areas. It aims to build momentum and capacity, but crucially acknowledges the huge achievements of resident volunteers in Big Locals across the country. We look forward to working with more Big Local partnerships over the next two years.
“The sessions helped crystalise and firm up thinking about the future and the current context we’re in.”
Devonshire West Big Local
“It has been great focusing on what we want [to achieve] and thinking about solutions.”
Blackpool Revoe Big Local
London Housing Panel
Our facilitation of the London Housing Panel learning day in March recognised and celebrated achievement, as well as drawing out lessons and ideas to help shape future work between the Panel and the GLA (Greater London Authority).
Resources for decision-making, problem-solving and hybrid meetings
Members of our team have offered one-off training sessions and resources to support community groups develop skills and grow confidence in creative decision-making, problem solving and facilitating hybrid meetings.
The emphasis is on sharing tools and experiences to enable people to make a positive difference in their communities. Check out the creative problem-solving resources that Shae and Lisa shared with participants at Big Local Connects and our top tips for running effective hybrid meetings.
Growing our understanding
As a learning and evaluation partner, we’re constantly developing our understanding of what works and how.
It’s both inspiring and greatly satisfying to work alongside programmes and organisations over an extended time frame – creating learning opportunities and understanding the changes happening with individuals, in organisations and communities.
Local Trust’s Community Leadership Academy
We continued to work in partnership with IVAR alongside Local Trust’s Community Leadership Academy as evaluation and learning partners, as a new cohort of participants engaged with this coaching and support. Through workshops, case studies and reports we drew out the learning about what’s working and what impact it’s made at individual and community level, and shared this learning to guide the programme.
Trussell Trust’s Pathfinder Impact project
For Trussell Trust we worked with ten food banks to deliver the Pathfinder Impact project -a vanguard programme focusing on the strategic priority of food banks taking a proactive role in reducing the need for emergency food provision.
While Covid-19 and the cost of living crisis have put greater stress on people and families at risk, it was inspiring to hear how food banks are engaging with partners to tackle the issue at a local level. The legacy of this work is a set of tools and an impact map that helps food banks to be clear about their aims and understand the difference their work makes.
Big Local Measuring Change support
As a support provider to the Big Local programme, we worked with Bourne Big Local to support them with Measuring Change. Our work focused on interactive sessions (online and in person) to explore evaluation approaches that will be useful as their new community hub opens. We’ve just started Measuring Change work with Wormley and Turnford Big Local, helping them reflect on indicators of success for their Big Local plan.
Cornwall Systems Learning
During the Covid-19 pandemic, Cornwall Council Public Health took the bold step of applying a Human Learning Systems approach to working with the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors. As a learning partner, we supported the learning from and between grant-receiving organisations, looking at what worked, why it worked, and how this learning could be shared in Cornwall and beyond.
We’re really proud of the Cornwall Systems Learning Approach Prezi produced by our team, led by Lisa Meaney, which represents a new and more meaningful way for us to present findings from our work.
Wirral Council Public Health
We supported Wirral Council Public Health in their work with voluntary, community and faith sector organisations on recovery from the pandemic. Using the human learning systems approach, we focused on peer learning, building relationships, and sharing learning among organisations and with funders/commissioners. We will be celebrating the difference this work has made in communities with an event in January, and exploring how to magnify this learning.
We also carried out a rapid learning review of a number of larger partner organisations involved in local renewal, to explore what’s working well in an appreciative way and to inform future direction.
Community Hospitals Association
We were involved in the early stages of work with the Community Hospitals Association, learning from the experiences of staff working in community hospitals across UK during the Covid-19 pandemic. With a focus on learning to embed quality initiatives, this involved hearing about what had been difficult, and about the inspiring innovations community hospitals developed to support patients, families, staff and communities during the pandemic.
Growing collaboration and networks
Supporting partnership working and collaboration with wider networks has been a significant area of work for us this year.
With scarce resources and cuts to services for those that need them most, the people and organisations we’ve worked with are focusing on how to maximise their impact and reach.
We delivered scoping research exploring local authorities’ interest in, and appetite for, community-led funding approaches.
With help from our associates, we concluded an insightful piece of research to better understand Big Local relationships with public agencies. This had a practical focus on supporting those relationships in future, with parallel guidance for public agencies on working with community groups.
Stroud District Council
We facilitated a hybrid ‘Innovate to Renovate’ workshop for Stroud District Council, for people and organisations involved in retrofit across Gloucestershire, raising awareness of funding and creating space for new partnerships.
Institute for Voluntary Action Research (IVAR)
Partnership working is at the core of our work with IVAR on the Connecting Health Communities programme. Bringing together cross-sector partners in a geographical area, around a health inequality issue, the programme explores issues, develops solutions, and takes action for change.
We’ve been working with primary care networks in the emerging North Yorkshire Integrated Care System on solving inequality caused by rurality and transport, and in Sheffield on issues including severe mental illness, cancer screening, earlier diagnosis of cardiovascular disease and tobacco control.
We’ll bring decision-makers together for a final event in each area to share learning and scale what works, and we’ll be working with new areas from the middle of 2023. It’s really exciting to be part of the IVAR team’s ground-breaking work funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.
Coast and Vale Community Action (CaVCA)
Working alongside CaVCA, we facilitated an Open Space event to bring community experience to tackling the issues that people in communities are facing. It was inspiring to hear the voices of volunteers and activists joining together with leaders of organisations and networks to get to know each other, pool expertise and build solutions to the things that really matter to people.
“It was a great event, some really interesting (and sometimes surprising) stuff came out of it – plenty of material to work with moving forward. We loved working with you too and hopefully we will again, many times.”
Mel Bonney, CEO
We’re delighted to have worked with New Local in helping local authorities and health partners to develop ways of working with the voluntary and community sector in Stockport and Edmonton. A series of creative workshops, online and in person, helped develop policies and practice to encourage collaboration across networks for the benefit of people in communities.
Growing community voice
Amplifying people’s voices to make a positive impact on communities is central to what we do.
It’s also at the heart of organisations we work with, like the NHS, where we’ve worked together to bring real community and patient experience to the development of effective and accessible health services.
We’ve continued to work in partnership with WSA Community Consultants on a range of exciting projects.
Training Patient and Public Voice (PPV) Partners
We facilitated four two-day courses for PPV Partners, adapted to suit different learning styles, and piloted half-day sessions to increase accessibility. Additionally, as the learning and evaluation partner, Just Ideas led on surveying and interviewing participants both ahead of and after the training to understand their personal journey and the impact on their PPV practice. Participants fed back that they highly value the safe and structured space to share their experience. The benefit is significant for PPV partners early in their role, though more experienced partners also felt they could share their experience, and refresh their knowledge and skills.
“I really enjoyed this course. The pace was perfect, the activities were varied and interesting, there was plenty of time for discussion and comment and questions.”
“The PPV training has empowered me – made me realise I am not the only one. I put my armour on – I am unstoppable!”
10 Steps to working with people and communities
We facilitated this NHS England course to increase the confidence and skills of NHS staff engaging with people in their community.
“Absolutely loved today’s session. Trainers/facilitators engaged all the participants and kept the course live and interesting. Very well facilitated.”
“Would recommend the course to everybody and anybody – in any role – not just comms and engagement. All need to be incentivised on patient feedback. Also NHS directors and senior management. By speaking to the patients, it reignites that passion to get it right.”
Patient and Public Voice Partners induction
We supported the Innovation, Research and Life Sciences team in better engaging people with lived experiences in developing and disseminating information. We’re currently working on an induction package for new Patient and Public Voice partners as they embark on their roles supporting positive change in different areas of NHS England.
Learning Disability and Autism team training
Our training sessions for the Learning Disability and Autism team were designed to develop their own facilitation skills and confidence and to build the participation of the Learning Disability and Autism Advisory Group.
Model Climate Conferences
Young people’s voices were heard loud and clear through our Model Climate Conferences, timed to coincide with the this year’s COP talks in Egypt. These InterClimate Network Schools’ Climate Conferences have become an important fixture in our calendar.
Using InterClimate Network’s acclaimed adaptation of a model UN conference, we facilitated events in schools and in Reading and Solihull council chambers. Students played the roles of country negotiating teams at the COP before focusing on local action they can take in their schools and communities. We’re training a group of associate facilitators to deliver these events, so we can scale our offering to schools around England.
The 2022 Reading Conference was well received by students and teachers and covered by local BBC and ITV news. Evaluations showed 77% of students felt more confident presenting information about climate change to others as a result of attending.
“I really enjoyed sharing my views with other people who genuinely cared about the topics discussed and everything was very professionally done.”
“It was again a fantastic experience for teachers and staff and an opportunity for which the students and I are very grateful. They left inspired and ready to make a difference.”
Teacher – Kendrick School
Our director Helen continued her role as a Big Local rep in two areas, one of which she has worked with for over ten years. Reps work towards investment in and transformation of their area, supporting resident volunteers to have a voice in decisions effecting their community. This is the last year of Local Trust’s rep model, but Helen will stay involved with the groups, and has loved being part of their journeys of transformation.
Prader Willi Syndrome Association
We supported our Senior Associate Leila Baker in her work for the Prader Willi Syndrome Association, exploring how to incorporate the views and experiences of families of people with PWS in the charity’s priorities.
UK Covid-19 Inquiry Listening Exercise
Towards the end of 2022, we’ve shared in an opportunity to make sure diverse voices are heard in a matter of great sensitivity and national significance. Approached by new partners Ipsos and NatCen, we are working on one strand of the national Listening Exercise to support the independent UK Covid-19 Inquiry.
Our role, alongside WSA Community Consultants, is to help reach and hear voices of people less likely to come forward, providing appropriate, sensitive opportunities for them to share their experiences. We’re piloting a range of approaches and feel privileged to be working as part of such a skilled, insightful team. We look forward to building on this work through 2023.
A big thank you
As we celebrate our 15th birthday, we’d like to thank the many special people that we’ve been privileged to work with over the years. You have inspired our work, progressed our thinking and given us new perspectives on the challenges we all face in growing together.
We look forward to new opportunities to collaborate with you in 2023, strengthening relationships and building on the ways of working that have enabled us to grow well over the last year.
Richard, Helen, Mary and the Just Ideas Collaborative.