The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story South Belfast TLP Autumn 2020

“It was amazing. I enjoyed doing Projects, exchange experiences, and gaining advice. Thanks” (participant from Chinese Welfare Association)


The Autumn 2020 TLP in South Belfast was delivered online to eighteen participants through the Zoom digital platform. There was a diverse range of participants from organisations including: TIDES Training, South Belfast Alternatives, Chinese Welfare Association, Multi-Cultural Sport NI, Groundwork, Belfast Asian Women, Pride of Lagan Valley Flute Band, Ethnic Minority Sports, CO3, Belfast City Council, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, and a Queen’s University student. The group made connections with each other by sharing email addresses and a number also set up a What’s App group and are now working with Belfast City Council to develop their joint project.

  1. How will you use what you have learned on TLP?

Not surprisingly, different aspects of the course content stood out for different people, including: Leading and Motivating Your Community, Visioning. Social Innovation and How to Measure Impact. Participants said:

  • One participant from a political party said: “I only joined a party during lockdown and so haven't done much in regard to politics (yet!). I found the course taking a really different approach to any leadership training I've had previously. My retail management experience was very business oriented and not at all about looking inward at yourself and your relationships with other people. Especially as I'm a newcomer into politics, the course has given me an amazing foundation in which to start establishing myself as a member of the community. The biggest impact I feel it had on me was learning that everyone has the power to change things and having the confidence in myself to try and do so - you don't have to be a big name in order to do so!”  
  • A participant from Advice NI said: “I didn’t know what to expect from the course, as it was facilitated via Zoom. I think one of my favourite parts was working in the breakaway groups and getting to see how others thought, analysed, and the ideas thought up. It was a great way to meet people from other organisations during a pandemic, and I feel the groups worked so well together. I would hope that the contacts I've made will be utilised in the future and some future partnerships forged”.
  •  I embraced the way in which people can bring a community together. I noticed that these ideas are focusing on bringing people together to create something useful for them… We have very different challenges, now we are focusing on getting local people engaged with activities and to share our culture and cuisine, show how we can contribute to the community. We can use a Social Innovation model as a way to gather people together and show how they can contribute.
  • I enjoyed every slide in the Leading and Motivating your Community presentation, it was very realistic, touches on ‘real life’.
  • This was very relatable, and applies to our private lives as well as organisations, especially when it comes to encouraging people (even when there is failure).
  • Encourage people to be involved to create a sense of local community, which might be about learning new skills, something people become passionate about, or making a difference by solving a community issue.
  1. Will you connect more with others as a result of the course?

Throughout the TLP, participants were saying that through these new connections they plan to continue to work together to make life better at South Belfast interfaces in the future, and also to support BAME communities engage more and feel empowered within the community. They felt that these new relationships will make an overall difference to South Belfast.

This had already started to happen even while the course was ongoing. For example, Radius Housing made contact with Forward South Partnership (FSP) in relation to the Summer Hunger Programme – not only was this delivered, but conversations about a second project led to Radius Housing approving a bid for Reconnecting Programmes, made by the FSP led Seamless Transition through Education Project (funded by DE). This additional funding enabled delivery of a programme for children and parents prior to returning to School after Covid-19 closures, which went on to win the Belfast Healthy Cities Families and Young People Mental Wellbeing Award in December 2020.

Participants were asked further questions about these connections as follows.

  1. Can you tell us about any useful conversations you have had with another TLP participant, and any outcomes?

It was clear that a number of useful conversations had been held between participants throughout the course. Participants said:

  • I have had conversations with a couple of people on the team and one of the outcomes of such a conversation was when a participant expressed their interest in getting back to a particular kind of sports which we (EMSONI) were coincidentally working on before the pandemic. We have been able to identify this particular person and her team as potential collaborators with EMSONI” (participant from the Ethnic Minority Sports Organisation). 
  • “I had useful conversations with both two of the participants from the course. They have been helpful in sharing information with their local groups regarding the current Belfast Youth Forum recruitment drive. Both of their areas and groups are currently under-represented in the Belfast Youth Forum, so we are trying to ensure it is more balanced” (participant from Belfast City Council).
  • I have had a conversation with Alternative Lincs South Belfast and agreed to meet up to discuss on programs that we can work together. I have also been talking to the student from Queens University, she wanted to know more about BAWA and may join us as a member” (participant from Belfast Asian Women’s Network).
  • “During a lunch break, I met with the participant from the Health Trust. She explained what her work entailed, issues she was having and ask if I could assist her in making contacts within my organisation to help her to overcome those problems. I referred her details to two project managers who I believe are making contact with her to set up some form of the referral process. This work is mainly to assist EU citizens who need to apply for the EU Settlement Scheme and those who need immigration/benefits advice” (participant from Advice NI).
  • “It was amazing and inspiring to attend the course. I had the opportunity to speak with the participant who runs the Asian Network, speak with another who runs the sports initiative, and the representatives of the Sudanese network” (participant from the Chinese Welfare Association).
  • “I have had many useful conversations that will be of benefit to me in my work. To date I have contacted one of the participants to ask if he will engage with us in relation to research, we are carrying out on a young men’s leadership programme (because of his Marching Band network of young men). This is happening. I also worked with a second participant to ask about delivering ‘Unconscious Bias’ training for the Men’s Shed network that we support. This is being actioned” (participant from Groundwork).
  1. Do you have any plans to continue to network and link with one or more TLP participants and if so, in what way?

Many participants had plans to continue to connect with each other after the course, as follows:

  • “There are absolutely plans to continue to network and link with more TLP participants. Involving the participant mentioned above (about getting back into sports) is one of such plans. Also, strengthening the collaborative relationship we currently have with another participant” (participant from the Ethnic Minority Sports Organisation).
  •  “I hope we get to arrange a face to face meeting in the new year as there are several people I would like to network with or at least keep in contact with to possibly engage with in the future” (participant from Belfast City Council).
  • “I hope that now the lines of communication have been opened between the TLP participants and me, that I could always be seen a point of contact in Advice NI for anyone who feels there could be partnership or collaborations in the future. I hope that the referral processes are set up with the Health Trust, which could lead to future referrals and in turn, ensuring the most vulnerable receive the advice they need” (participant from Advice NI).
  • “I intend to speak to the ethnic minority representatives on the course to explore their networks’ engagement in a future leadership programme. The objective would be self-development and integration” (participant from Groundwork NI).
  1. What do you think is the benefit of the TLP in relation to making new contacts?

Participants listed many benefits of the programme in this regard:

  • “TLP is a platform that brings people and organisations – which one may not have ordinarily met around – together. It opens an avenue for collaborative relationship with new contacts (participant from Ethnic Minority Sports Organisation).
  • “It is extremely beneficial.  It gives a chance to meet with people from other organisations I have not worked with before, but who work in the same geographical area as me” (participant from Belfast City Council).
  • “Making new contacts allows us to broaden our network, get connected to different groups and potentially collaborate to achieve common goals” (participant from Belfast Asian Women).
  • “Through TLP I have met people that I otherwise would not have encountered. The nature of the course is that you also learn about people’s background, what they are doing to change lives and the aspirations of their communities. This has given me insight into the needs of other communities and how my organisation can work with them to improve quality of life for all” (participant from Groundwork).

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