TLP Participant Story: Brian Caskey, North Belfast TLP Spring 2021
He completed the course alongside participants from Belfast City Council, the Ardoyne Association, the Vine Centre, Extern NI, The Executive Office, New Lodge Youth Centre, The Education Authority, Dept for the Economy, NIHE, MACS, Barnardo’s, Peas Park Belfast, the Orthodox Church of St John of Shanghai, the Patient and Client Council and local residents.
“Progressive work was done years ago in interface areas, less so recently. To have a course that brings people back to talking about what is going on at interfaces has been really important. It names it, it brings people back to the issue, and it re-energises and renews the conversation.”
- What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme?
I’ve been working in the area for a long time and wanted to refresh my outlook on how we could work together with similar minded people in the area. I believe if you work in partnership, you achieve more. I wanted to find partners and course was the perfect opportunity to connect with the right people on the right issues – it’s close to my heart and it was the right group.
Experience and Learning
- What topics stood out for you?
All of the material was interesting but my particular interest was more about how to connect with the community, so what stood out for me was the different ideas for connecting with the community – how to do it properly and bring people along with you. You can get carried away with your own thinking – it’s good to pause and think am I doing this the right way or am I missing opportunities. It was great to hear from others about how they do it, to reflect on what we do and pick up innovative ideas from others.
- What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?
The modules on Social Innovation were very real for me – our organisation went down the road of social innovation not knowing much about it and it was great to see that it related to the course. We had started working with the Design School at Stanford before the course, so the course made it real and gave us confidence to keep doing it. I have been able to use the learning in a Shared Futures project we’re involved in using new technologies, working with young people.
- Is there anything you could or would do now that you wouldn’t have felt able to do before?
The course affirmed a lot of stuff for me, and also challenged me in terms of maybe the need to speed things up – not sitting on things so long, having the confidence to go ahead. It was good speaking to other participants with similar challenges and that has given me the confidence not to be too hard on myself and to be self-reflective rather than beating myself up. The course gives you a lot of confidence, and it’s good for the statutory bodies on the course to see what grass roots are doing. It was also great to hear from Michelle Hand from Belfast City Council – you know you can approach her for a chat and won’t get pushed back.
- Are there people/agencies you feel able to talk to and work with now that you weren’t before?
I’ve connected with like-minded people including Tom from DfE and Sarah Louise from New Lodge. Sarah Louise’s group is doing work around empowering young women and this is something we want to connect with, so that’s a good direct contact to have.
- What difference will this make to how you engage in your interface area?
It has reassured me that you are pushing an open door when we reach out and connect with more groups. It costs nothing and it’s easy to do. There are good relationships there that are definitely worth connecting with – you realise everyone is in the same boat. It stretches the conversation to have these new contacts – it’s all about relationships at the end of the day.
- What difference will the course make to the interface area overall?
Progressive work was done years ago in interface areas, less so recently. To have a course that brings people back to talking about what is going on at interfaces has been really important. It names it, it brings people back to the issue, and it re-energises and renews the conversation. This course can play a role as much as any other intervention and makes statutory bodies aware how difficult the work is – and that when we don’t work on it, it will come back and bite you.
- To what extent do you think these changes would have occurred in the absence of this course?
The TLP has helped me continue my personal development to work in partnership with others to make a different at interfaces. I have learned new ideas and skills and this is something we should aspire to – the course helps re-energise, prevents burnout and reminds you what you’re in it for.
- What would you say to others thinking of doing the course?
It would be great to get more young people on the course. It would help if there was a pre-course meeting or taster to help young people who are low in confidence or self-esteem to join. It would a good way to reassure them that they have fantastic ideas and that what they say can make a difference.
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