The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story South Belfast TLP Autumn 2019

Here the first South Belfast TLP group share their story.

This South Belfast TLP group came from diverse community and organisational backgrounds, comprising local residents as well participants from the following organisations: Ethnic Minority Support Organisation NI, An Droichead, Mornington Community Project, Youth Link NI, Afro-Community Support Organisation NI, BOMOKO NI, Ormeau Business Park, Greater Village Regeneration Trust and Radius Housing.

“It has been brilliant for me to bring back… answers to problems; the group has built a freshness and generated new ideas”.


Experience and Learning

What did you like about the course?

Participants talked about the value of the course, the content, and the impact this had on their confidence to influence and challenge in the community:

“It has been brilliant for me to bring back [to my colleagues] answers to problems; the group has built a freshness and generated new ideas”.

“The hand-outs and instructions are so practical – a lot of the materials and interaction we have had on the course have already solved the problems. My group were going around in circles developing the vision and planning the way forward. I talked with one of the trainers and that afternoon when we were looking at social innovation one of the hand-outs gave me the questions to ask. As it happened the meeting was the evening after the TLP training; and it went so well looking at what we wanted to achieve, why, and what difference we could make”.

What topics or learning stood out for you?

The group had many lessons to take away about leadership:

“One of the biggest things we’ve learnt is that there is a time to lead and a time to be led. We need to do both, and as a leader know when to lead and when to be led. Know when to apologise, when mistakes have happened. Learn from the mistakes, own up to it, and say sorry. Leaders also need to be vulnerable and show vulnerability; and know when to let others take over”.

“Leadership can be messy at times, but you have to get in and be humble and be prepared to learn. We need to push decision makers and government, but we need to get stuck in at the grassroots on the ground as well”.

What difference has it made?

Is there anything you could or would do now that you wouldn’t have felt able to do before?

The group identified gatekeeping and outdated approaches as challenges in the interface area, and talked about their intention to challenge these when they arose, but also to bring people with them on the peace journey, motivating, influencing and inspiring:

“Because of the TLP I felt empowered to be able to take the first scary step of challenging something positively. I spoke out at a meeting and said that we could look at the situation in different ways. I said I will work with you to resolve this. Sometimes we need to think out of the box to see more clearly and be able to achieve more”.

Are there people/agencies you feel able to talk to and work with now that you weren’t before?

There was a real sense that by the end of this course, people had got to know each other and had developed not only a preparedness to work together to improve their area, but also they were excited at the prospect:

“We’ve really got to know each other during the past weeks; there is a genuine wish for future collaboration – I think we all like idea of doing a project together”.

An indication of their willingness of future collaboration was demonstrated by the suggestion made by one of the participants to set up a TLP WhatsApp Group. Following unanimous consent this was set up prior to the last two modules:

“We walked in as strangers, but I know we will see each other again, and I know you all as individuals”.

What difference will this make to how you engage in your interface area and to the area overall?

The participants brought a cross cultural set of experiences, values, and skills that were shared within the group. This resulted in discussion about ‘cultural diversity’ and ‘cross-community’, with consensus that the former terminology is now more appropriate:

“The community now is a lot more than being about two communities; ‘cross-community’ is an outdated term because we are talking about more than two communities. I prefer ‘cross cultural’; and in fact personally I prefer the term ‘blended community’. In a blended community you can’t see the individual differences because the blend signifies co-existence and co-dependency. In Zimbabwe there is a word ‘Simunye’, which means ‘we are one’ – with the vision to be able to live the expression out. Simunye exceeds gender, race, age, cultures, and religion”.

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