Transformative Leadership Programme

The Transformative Leadership Programme (TLP) is a leadership training programme funded by the Peace IV programme through Belfast City Council (BCC). It runs from July 2019 until December 2021.

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TLP Case Study East Belfast - Group 3

This group did the Transformative Leadership Programme in Autumn 2021 in East Belfast.

Before signing up to the programme, were you aware of any other similar programmes in your area?

Yes.

What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme over any others?

Similar programmes have been run in the East - recommended by past participants. • Networking - to meet others working in the area.

Experience and Learning: What topics stood out for you?

Collaboration, Power and systems  and Vision.

What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?

 Relationships and networking as we move, resources and be better equipped regarding how to interact with community.

How would you summarise your experience of the programme in 1 sentence or in 3 words?

Informative and enjoyable, knowledge, inspiration, ideas,  collaborate, and impact.

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

Able to plan a project from start to end and gaining of confidence.

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

Feel like we could approach anyone else on the programme to collaborate in the future.

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

Deeper understanding of the challenges and the different factors which must be considered when working in interface area.

What difference will the course make to the interface area overall? Especially in terms of relationships, collaboration and increased understanding in the area?

Strengthened relationships of those working within the area and the project will help to bring together both sides of the community.

Which issues in particular do you think you might get involved in?

Strengthening of and more opportunities for the arts, Community Development, green space, health and well-being.

How will you apply new ways of working, ideas or approaches?

 Implementation of PESTLE(R) in our decision making and approach with long term outcomes in mind. More attention given to visioning.

To what extent do you think these changes would have occurred in the absence of this course? I.e. would you have developed these skills and be motivated to do something new anyway?

Yes, however this programme has sped things up as we have been allowed a space for networking, learning together and building relationships. A lot more thought has been given to the ‘why’ of how we’re doing things - but this programme has afforded the opportunity for more informed and collaborated approach. 

Which of these bullet points do you feel taking part in the course has most helped with the overall (you can pick as many as you want!) and say how you think the course has helped: A city equipped to promote community cohesion, reconciliation and deliver partnership shared services:

Enable, engage and empower participants from the targeted areas to become leaders in their community and champions for change. We feel let down by the lack of attendance of representatives from the council. We would also like to comment our trainers (Linda, Ashleigh, Jim and Marie Ann) who have been excellent throughout. 

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TLP Case Study PSNI West Belfast

These PSNI officers did the Transformative Leadership Programme in Autumn 2021 in West Belfast. Here’s what they had to say.

“I do not believe that cross community barriers would have been brought down to the extent they are without the course.  I would recommend the course to any of my colleagues.”

 

Introduction and Motivation

Before signing up to the programme, were you aware of any other similar programmes in your area?

No

What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme over any others?

We were encouraged by our Supervisors to sign up, as a colleague had completed a previous course in West Belfast, and this gave me a great opportunity to network with some community groups.

Experience and Learning

What topics stood out for you?

Innovation and Change through different leadership styles. It was great to actually learn about different styles, which gave me a great opportunity to look at my current and previous supervisors and chiefs and to understand them more.

What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?

The ability to change approach to issues as they arise and not be fixed to an authoritarian structure of thinking. The positive energy and comprehensive presentation of work from the tutors shows what can be done from a Zoom session to achieve results.  I plan on replicating this type of energy and understanding through my job role and especially when working with what I may perceive as challenging behaviours. This has given me an opportunity to look at people differently.  

How would you summarise your experience of the programme in 1 sentence or in 3 words?

Motivating, engaging and enjoyable.

 Impact

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

Understand that rank structure is not democratic and that management style can highly determine the work culture.

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

Yes, more with BCC and community partnerships.

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

The openness of speaking as we know people as humans and not as a uniform

What difference will the course make to the interface area overall especially in terms of relationships, collaboration and increased understanding in the area?

Increased collaboration and links to understanding what the communities want from Police.

Behaviour

Which issues in particular do you think you might get involved in? 

More engagement with vulnerable parts of society, that now as we know links from different organisations, we have points of contact in areas we would not have had before.  We have plans in place over the next month for engagement opportunities.

How will you apply new ways of working, ideas or approaches? 

I would like more engagement and conversation about how Police can be involved in local projects and build on the relationships from the course.  That said, that is an SMT decision on direction of outcomes and KPIs. 

Attribution

To what extent do you think these changes would have occurred in the absence of this course? i.e. would you have developed these skills and be motivated to do something new anyway?

I do not believe that cross community barriers would have been brought down to the extent they are without the course. I would like to emphasise the work put in by the tutors, they were flexible and always at the end of the phone or email, throughout the course, they worked well dynamically with the approach to learning and delivery.  I would recommend the course to any of my colleagues. 

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TLP Participant Story South Belfast: Mervyn Smyth

Mervyn works with Belfast Exposed and did the TLP in the Belvoir, Taughmonagh, Finaghy, Annadale/Ballynafeigh area of South Belfast in Autumn 2021.

He completed the course alongside participants from: Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, GEMS NI, National Museums NI, Donegall Pass Community Forum, NI Assembly, Chinese Welfare Association, Cats Protection and Forward South.

“What the TLP does is give a voice to people on the ground who are affected at a real level, rather than those out of the area who think they know what those on the ground want and need. The TLP opens up dialogue.”

 

Introduction and Motivation

Before signing up to the programme, were you aware of any other similar programmes in your area?

No – saw it on the NICVA site and was interested in doing this.

What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme over any others?

I liked that the TLP engages with community sector.

Experience and Learning

What topics stood out for you?

  • Leadership models – looking at own leadership styles. Who am I?
  • Networking with other groups and communities – the difference experiences we all brought to it.

What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?

  • Networking opportunities
  • Realising when looking at yourself, others are in different timescales to yourself – driving things forward needs agreement with others; and keeping the right people on-board if that means working to their timescales. Had a recent example working with a Travellers group, importance of taking the time to gain trust.

How would you summarise your experience of the programme in 1 sentence or in 3 words?

Informative, educational, and great fun to meet new people I wouldn’t usually have met.

      Impact

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

Approaching people who we haven’t worked with before and taking time to understand their needs and values, and to respect those values. Take other groups’ parameters into account.

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

  • Yes – funnily enough, we started work again with the Department of Justice on a different level and NHSCT. Holylands Support Group – and looking to engage with Siri (also on the programme). And connecting a Yoga Teacher with a group who were looking for someone. It opened up new avenues.
  • Writing a BCC application, and have included the Holylands in this to assist a photography project; and to make this happen.
  • Working with GEMS before the TLP, and this has helped cement that relationship.

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

Realising we network more effectively as Belfast Exposed, opened up communications. Understanding what people are doing

What difference will the course make to the interface area overall? Especially in terms of relationships, collaboration, and increased understanding in the area?

What the TLP does is give a voice to people on the ground who are affected at a real level, rather than those out of the area who think they know what those on the ground want and need. The TLP opens up dialogue.

 Behaviour

Which issues in particular do you think you might get involved in?

  • Engagement with the Holyland and the FSP Holyland Capacity Worker (as above)
  • Involved with the South Belfast TLP Project and the walking trail.

How will you apply new ways of working, ideas or approaches?

  • We have regular staff meetings and also strategy meetings. Bringing ideas to staff meetings, sharing, hearing voices of all staff, and this informing the strategy.
  • For example, we now have an intern with us from Canada – bringing new ideas, and understanding the context of the archive, and feels more empowered to do this. Feeling part of the organisation and the direction the strategy is going in. A real improvement to the organisation.

Attribution

To what extent do you think these changes would have occurred in the absence of this course? i.e. would you have developed these skills and be motivated to do something new anyway?

  • Probably not, the archive was always left to me and so much was in my head. Now have the skill to share ideas and share responsibilities.
  • Taking new projects further forward with TLP colleagues – which would not otherwise have happened.
  • Enjoy that there is no hierarchy amongst participants, learning from others’ experiences in many different ways.

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Participant Story: Geraldine Telford, Dunmurry - Seymour Hill – Milltown Colin TLP 2, Spring 2021

Geraldine is a volunteer with Falls Community Council.

She completed the TLP in July 2021 alongside participants from Upper Springfield Development Trust, Springfield Charitable Association, NIHE, Ulster Wildlife and and USEL.

“The Transformative Leadership Programme is informative, relevant and transformative. TLP is too important a tool to just keep it at interfaces”

Introduction and Motivation

What motivated you to do the course?

My name is Geraldine Telford. I became aware of the Transformative Leadership Programme through my voluntary work with Falls Community Council; helping with the organisation of cross community events i.e. talks and discussions around contentious issues. My background is in community work and community education in particular. I decided to do the TLP course because of the positive feedback but also because I felt a bit brain dead and I thought that doing a course would get the old grey cells going again. It was also about just trying to get my head around working again. 

Experience and Learning

Which aspects of the course content stood out for you?

Collaborative Working: sometimes when you are watching the news and everything is building up again you think but how do we change that? I don’t know about you but my notion of collaboration was not good. To me collaboration was a bad thing.  But the FCC facilitators who were delivering the course and the people who I was learning with shared their positive relevant experiences and case studies e.g.: the Broadway model, all of which made the difference to me because suddenly it became real.

What did you like about the experience of doing the course?

It was a bit strange for me to take a course via Zoom. I was a bit apprehensive about it but excited at the same time. The TLP Online course provided an opportunity for me to interact with people outside my own area. The breakout rooms were great. Before the course I had been thinking: How is this going to work?  There were some issues with individuals freezing at the start. I knew we would have to do some group work and was thinking how is this going to work so that everyone has a chance to talk and put their ideas forward. The breakout rooms allow us to actually do that and I got to know everybody eventually through the small group work sessions.

 Impact

What difference did it make to you and your area?

We all were constrained during the pandemic. I became more aware and focused on the need for community organisations, youth and sporting and community groups to be more cohesive and collaborative to even exit or to even get through the pandemic. I’m from Ormeau Road which is more of a mixed area than an interface, but the same issues arise. At this particular time of the year flags are a big issue. I had been involved in a group that was involved at looking at establishing a protocol around flags and how the protocol was being adapted/working.

When you can see a thing working, for me this was transformative leadership in action. This is actually how to do it. It really made an impact. I am very interested in the idea of collaborative working. The Transformative Leadership Programme is focused on communities living at the interface. I don’t think our fault line which is deemed to be between the two communities is just for people living at the interface. I think it affects everyone in Belfast. It is also N. Ireland wide. So, I think that you need to bring this collaborative work into mixed areas and even single identity communities.

It’s not just about being there but being actively involved. By bringing ideas to the table and discussing them. TLP did ignite a spark in me again.

I am very glad that I got involved with the course. Part of me was quite nervous about it, because it had been quite a while since I did a course or anything and also because it was being delivered through Zoom.

Attribution

Further thoughts on TLP?

TLP is too important a tool to just keep it at interfaces. There are now many new communities. Is there some way that TLP could be delivered across the region?  We keep focus on the “two communities” but I think TLP relevance has a bigger reach than that.

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TLP Participant Story: Brian Caskey, North Belfast TLP Spring 2021

Brian works for Limestone United Cross Community Project and did the TLP course in North Belfast in May-June 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.”

Motivation

  1. 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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

      Impact

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

Attribution

  1. 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.

  1. 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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TLP Participant Story – Jill McPeak, South Belfast TLP, Spring 2021

Jill works for the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust Involvement Team and completed the TLP in Spring 2021.

She took part in the course alongside participants from: Donegall Pass Community Forum, QUB, Springboard Opportunities, Inspire Wellbeing, Donegall Pass Youth Club, Northern Ireland Housing Executive, NUS-USI, NI Civil Service, the DUP and local residents.

Looking back at the file I was amazed by how much information was delivered in such a short space of time. This ‘toolkit’ of approaches is a great resource to use…It has opened my eyes to the community…. I’m more inclined to pick up the phone and make connections.”

Introduction and Motivation

  1. What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme over any others?

It offered a range of skills building, with a focus on South Belfast. I came along to get a better understanding of the Community in South Belfast, the cultures, and how different communities operate. Networking with people in South Belfast. I don’t have a community background at all, so this was a new experience. Health is integral to the community, and health impacts on so many things; for example being lonely and isolated will negatively impact on mental health and emotional wellbeing.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

A number of things for different reasons:

  • Understanding better the kind of behaviours I use when I am leading. This has helped frame my leadership styles a little bit more.
  • Vision – sharing your vision; and hearing other people explaining their vision and trying to imagine in my head what they actually mean. Being clear and adaptable. Listen to all ideas. Team equality, share and adapt.
  • Good relations – everyone together can achieve more.
  • The ‘Mutual Interest’ approach, finding an area of consensus.
  • Starting small – building relationships to be able to work towards a bigger goal.
  1. What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?

A number of things for different reasons:

  • People and approach to working on the ground – the drive to see a need and meet the need alongside other people. Having an impact and changing the community environment for everyone. See it and do it.
  • My approach to leadership and organising things – be a little more structured and reflective
  • Examine my behaviour and impact of my style.
  1. How would you summarise your experience of the programme?

Inspiring, affirming and levelling.

    Impact

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

I’m usually happy to get involved and lead if I can; at work I have done this. I want to be more involved with colleagues and the community, planning and organising. The course has given a ‘toolkit’ to dip into. It has opened my eyes to the community; I learnt about different projects and involving people in different ways.

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

Agencies are made up of people and it is relationships that move things forward. I’m more inclined to pick up the phone and make connections. I contacted a couple of the people who were on the TLP, and we are now working on a TLP Project together. I feel I can pick up the phone to any of them if I need to.

  1. What difference will this make to how you engage in your interface area?

The course opened my eyes to the number of different interface areas, in relation to race and culture; alongside poverty. There is more to it than that. Engaging is about human connections, finding common interest, mutual interest, and listening to people’s voices. Facilitating other people’s voices to develop the mutual vision.

  1. What difference will the course make to the interface area overall?
  • Rhetoric approach: coming from the community, for the community, emotional connections, and people are invested in the outcome. This provides a foundation to build on.
  • Understanding of the barriers to change.
  • Finding a common goal and a common ground.
  • Building capacity, increasing confidence, and building trust.

 Behaviour

  1. Which issues in particular do you think you might get involved in?

A lot of ideas came from the TLP sessions. The TLP Project – my only concern is that we have decided what the community want. We will go back and forwards as we plan this event which will give the opportunity to evolve the events through co-production appropriate to each venue. Stepping into this world and experiencing it. Continuous improvement.

How will you apply new ways of working, ideas or approaches?

I will plan and reflect in a slightly different way. I am running an Involvement Group with the British Deaf Association – and I will use different approaches to progress with this group.

Attribution

  1. To what extent do you think these changes would have occurred in the absence of this course?

I am motivated to learn and do things differently. Looking back at the file I was amazed by how much information was delivered in such a short space of time. This ‘toolkit’ of approaches is a great resource to use, I would not have previously had the opportunity to know about all these different models (I was familiar with some, but there were a lot of new ideas in the TLP sessions). I can also go back and reflect on all the information I have filed from the TLP. Some of the core themes have resonated with me, and I can see that I will bring them into the Involvement Team approach: co-production, partnership, making connections, and the overall ethos about supporting, informing, listening, and influencing.

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TLP Participant Story – Christine McNally, Springfield Road TLP, Spring 2021

Christine works for Upper Springfield Development Trust and completed the TLP in Spring 2021.

She took part in the course alongside participants from: Forthspring Inter Community Group, Upper Andersonstown Community Forum, Job Assist Centres West Belfast, PSNI, Belfast City Council, Moving Up Moving On, Fáilte Feirste Thiar, Radius Housing and local residents.

I have better knowledge and understanding of collaboration of organisations and networks involved within the interface areas that can help to dissolve the tensions within the area.”

Introduction and Motivation

  1. What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme over any others?  

At the time of signing up I wanted to make a difference to our community as I work within Job Assist and dealing with clients daily.  When doing the training, tensions where quite high within the interface area and I wanted to gain the skills and good leadership to be able to pass onto my own children and whoever I had influence over.  I wasn’t aware of any other programmes of this kind.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

Goleman’s 6 different styles of Leadership. I like to think I am an affiliative and Democratic leader and can adapt to any one of the other 4 styles in any given  situation.  

  1. What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community? 

To be a better leader and have more awareness of the styles in every role and aspect of my life whether it’s in my job role as a Mentor, voluntary within the community and Residents’ Association, or family life to be a better influence within my family unit.  

  1.  How would you summarise your experience of the programme in 1 sentence or in 3 words?

      Enjoyable, Efficient, Effective  

Impact

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

It has just given me a better awareness to utilise the skills I already have to enhance my Leadership management.

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

I feel now I could as I would be able to use the skills learnt in different situations and environment as not every situation is the same.

  1. What difference will this make to how you engage in your interface area?

I have better knowledge and understanding of collaboration of organisations and networks involved within the interface areas that can help to dissolve the tensions within the area.

  1. What difference will the course make to the interface area overall? Especially in terms of relationships, collaboration and increased understanding in the area?

Overall working together as a collaboration will greatly benefit the areas not just only round certain times of the year but all year round to build the relationships with the residents and groups involved for example Clonard Mid Shankill groups.  More funding needs to go into these areas to ensure the peace is kept.

Attribution

  1. To what extent do you think these changes would have occurred in the absence of this course? i.e. would you have developed these skills and be motivated to do something new anyway?

Most likely not, I am glad I completed the course, it has made me more aware of how I use my Leadership styles in different situations for the better. 

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TLP Participant Story: Tiwa Lade, Storehouse NI and ANAKA Women’s Group, North Belfast, Spring 2021

Tiwa Lade volunteers with Storehouse NI and also ANAKA Women’s Group.

She completed the TLP course in North Belfast in April – May 2021 alongside participants from Newington Residents’ Association, The Executive Office, Deanby Youth Centre, North Belfast Interface Network, ANAKA Women’s Group, Homeplus NI, PIPs and many others.

“The best thing I got out of the course was experience, an understanding of leadership and all the skills…I would encourage people to do the course because it actually takes you somewhere…I would definitely recommend it

Motivation

  1. What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme?

I wanted to do the course because sometimes when you go into a new environment, as Northern Ireland is for me, you might think you know it all – but things can be different in a new part of the world. I came here from Nigeria not quite 2 years ago and I was keen to find ways to integrate into the system, fit into any job I eventually get and have experience.  I also wanted to learn more about myself and what kind of leader I tend to be.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

I really liked the session looking at the various leadership styles. And I also liked the session on Collaboration – learning how to carry people along. Sometimes in life a leader might not know they are carrying whole load on themselves – and in fact you need to delegate and work with others. Sometimes we just go ahead and do it ourselves – I do this at home with the children! I have realised that if I jump in and do things for people, how will they learn and gain experience – so you have to delegate.

  1. What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?

I meet different people every day – Storehouse has people from other parts of the world, so for me a leader has to be patient and also at times firm. What you need to do is be calm, learn about other people’s culture and see what works for you, and deal with what doesn’t.  It’s important to be aware of difference, for example, here in Northern Ireland, everyone is on a first name basis. In Nigeria, if a woman for example is older than you, they would be addressed as Mam rather than by their first name. I’ve had to get used to it being different here.

 Impact

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

Yes – most of the leadership skills – everyone has a little to learn. For me, delegating was the challenge. I feel that now I would ask myself “Am I allowing that person to learn, especially if they are a junior colleague?” I see that I have to work on that. If they don’t understand, I need to explain it better.

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

The course has helped even in my confidence to deal with day-to-day issues. For example my internet had to be moved from my first to second house. I have learned here that if you are paying for a service, you have a right to have it, and if there is a problem, you can complain and expect it to be dealt with. I have learned here I can speak up and get things done. The course has also helped me to make connections – e.g. with Belfast City Council. I didn’t think  I could just walk up to them – they are open and you can work with them. I met amazing people and will reconnect with them and remember  them – people shared experiences, I met different pockets of people with different experiences doing different things which was good.

  1. What difference will this make to how you engage in your interface area?

Definitely it will make a difference – you have to be aware there are different people, with different cultures, temperaments and backgrounds, and you need to get to know them and walk with them. Some people are fast learners, others need time, and to have things explained. People learn differently – I know this from my previous role as a teacher in Nigeria. You can see that with children, some are visual learners and some prefer words, others learn through play. I have to take that into consideration with adults – they are all different and learn differently.

  1. What difference will the course make to the interface area overall?

Yes, as long as we work together as a team on the project – we need to keep the team spirit and ensured we are not segregated but unified.  

Behaviour

  1. How will you apply new ways of working, ideas or approaches?

I will apply these new ways of working once ANAKA, our women’s group, opens again, I will be able to use all the things I have learned to help the community and to help women from different parts of the world who are living here in Belfast.

Best thing?

  1. What was the best thing for you about the course?

The best thing I got out of the course was experience, an understanding of leadership and all the skills – I loved the exercises that helped you think about what kind of leader you are. I would encourage people to do the course because it actually takes you somewhere, what you get from it could help you work with others, get a job etc. I would definitely recommend it. If there is another course at a higher level I would love to attend it.

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TLP Participant Story – Conor Maskey, North Belfast TLP, Spring 2021

Conor works for Intercomm in North Belfast and is also a Sinn Fein councillor.

He completed the TLP in North Belfast in February 2021 with participants from the Bytes Project, Start 360, PSNI, Lower Oldpark Community Association, Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne, Belfast City Council, the Green Party, Sinn Fein, The Anthony Nolan Trust, Pintsized Productions, Cavehill Community Choir and local residents. Conor shares his TLP story here.

“Whether you’re a public representative or a political activist, this course is extremely beneficial because of the networking opportunities and learning opportunities it gives. It enhances your ability to show leadership in the political sphere and to bring that learning back to whatever party you’re in and to progress your agenda”.

Introduction and Motivation

  1. What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme?

The leadership element of it – you can’t stop learning. But more importantly, it was clear that this was a real networking opportunity across Belfast. I also heard from another participant about the networking element – it made a difference that it was attended by council officers and people on the ground from the local community.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

For me the Visioning aspect stood out best – the group dynamic in that session was really good. It brought it home that it’s so hard to get anywhere if you don’t know where you’re going. I also liked the session on Leadership Styles – focusing on your own style and also to learn that all of the styles work in different situations, and when to apply them and when not to. And I enjoyed the session on power dynamics.

  1. What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?

For me it’s the social inclusion part – the importance of bottom-up development. I’m currently supporting a new residents’ group, and I feel I can help them to look at their own capacity, work with them on how to communicate, who they are communicating with, the pitfalls they might face – the programme has taught me a lot about that. It was great for the residents’ association that a council officer attended the course and they can now connect with him – connecting with the council is really important for them at the moment.

    Impact

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

It’s more that it has consolidated things. I have experience and contacts, but you can get into a bubble whether in the political world or the community development world so it was really good that participants were from different sectors and streams – the way that the course was set up enabled me to network more and grounded me a bit more.

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

Yes, there are a couple of contacts from the course who I have stayed in touch with that I wouldn’t have been in touch with before. There was learning from the course but the real added value is in the networking.

  1. What difference will this make to how you engage in your interface area?

There had been ideas going around as to how to really lift the Waterworks in North Belfast. Could we develop a nature trail, outdoor entertainment, a Market or any other ideas. When this was discussed with participants there was a real appetite. Discussing this among the group garnered more confidence in those ideas. Now there’s a willingness from participants in our group to get behind Waterworks initiatives.

  1. What difference will the course make to the interface area overall?

It will make a difference because if you look at the networking that happened in our group and multiply that by say 14-15 courses in North Belfast, all networking and working on projects of benefit for North Belfast, it’s not difficult to see that with that level of connection, therein lies the impact. If I take our group as an example, there will be a legacy even after the programme, across the board.

     Behaviour

  1. Are there any things you’d get further involved in?

Yes, we’re still working on our group project and we’ll keep going with that in addition to ideas around the Waterworks.

Attribution

  1. To what extent do you think these changes would have occurred in the absence of this course?

Without the course I would only have made some of the contacts by luck – so the course has enabled and expedited the connections with people that I wouldn’t have met before and would still be in contact. And it has led to a warming of relations with other participants on the course, including political sector, which I’m delighted about.

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TLP Participant Story: Julie Carson, TEO, North Belfast, Spring 2021

Julie works for The Executive Office (TEO) and completed the TLP course in North Belfast in April – May 2021.

This course included participants from Newington Residents’ Association, Deanby Youth Centre, North Belfast Interface Network, ANAKA Women’s Group, Homeplus NI, PIPs and many others.

The TLP is a very worthwhile course which allows you to focus on your own leadership styles. It’s relevant in your day-to-day job as well giving you a sense of the bigger picture of what’s going on in the community. It helps you to get out of the limitations of the office and build an understanding of the challenges in the community.”

Motivation

1. What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme?

I heard about the TLP from a colleague in Department of Justice who had worked on the Interfaces Team. My role involves working with Good Relations Officers in councils and promoting Good Relations in interface areas so I felt that by doing the course with community groups, this might give me the opportunity to see where they’re coming from, tools to communicate better with them and to think about how we might develop future programmes – it seemed like a good fit.

Experience and Learning

2. What topics stood out for you?

The module on Leadership Styles made me focus on my leadership within my team in TEO – it was useful in thinking about how I deal with things with my own staff. I also liked the session on Collaboration – the vast majority of my time is spent collaborating with councils and community organisations to make sure we get best value for the public money we are putting in so it was very relevant.

3. What are you likely to ‘take back’ to your life/work in the community?

Definitely the different kinds of leadership styles. As a leader I’m on the softer side and very conscious of the people I work with – I’m not great with conflict and can back down. I have taken away that sometimes you do need to be firmer and get your point across and not always agree just to keep the peace. This can also help when I’m dealing with Councils – it’s important that we build understanding of each other’s different roles, for me to recognise that they are Good Relations experts and for them to recognise our role of protecting the public purse.

4. How would you summarise your experience of the programme?

This is an enjoyable course – one of those that you can get involved in and enjoy rather than have someone talking at you. So much participation kept it fluid and it was lovely to meet all the community representatives and participants from different groups and background.

 Impact

5. Are there people/groups you feel able to talk to and work with now that you weren’t as aware of before?

Yes. It was good to see all the people who attended the course from different community organisations, I learned a lot for example from the participant who was there from the gambling organisation – I hadn’t realised there were so many young people involved in it and would never have been aware of it. And it was good to hear about different projects people are running for ethnic minority groups such as cooking schools etc. It was good to hear what they’re dealing with from their own perspective - sometimes we don’t appreciate the challenges they face and how they deal with them.

6. What difference will the course make to the interface area overall?

The TLP probably can make a different to interface areas. On our course the majority were from the North Belfast area and they probably weren’t aware of what others were doing. The course allowed links to be created – they could now lift the phone to each other.  Coming together and collaborating within the course could only help the area and give all those working in North Belfast a better perspective on everything that is going in. Sometimes we can be in a silo and lose sight of the bigger picture – the course showed how so many people are trying to work together with the same goal of making North Belfast a better place.  

Final comments

7. What was the best thing about the course for you?

Probably for me, it was the whole sense of partnership working, even in the Zoom breakout rooms, getting a sense of what others are doing, seeing things from a different perspective. In the civil service there are processes to follow, but in the community it’s not so straightforward – it’s an ever-changing graphic. It was important for me to see how people made links with each other, and they could pick up the phone and let each other know what’s available, including from TEO. It was great to have an opportunity to work with those people.

8. What would you say to public sector colleagues thinking about doing the TLP?

This is a very worthwhile course which allows you to focus on your own leadership styles. It’s relevant in your day-to-day job, as well as giving you a sense of the bigger picture of what’s going on in the community and what people are facing. It helps you to get out of the limitations of the office and build an understanding of the challenges in the community. This makes it easier to prepare businesses cases, keeping in mind that the benefits are not always monetary – they can be social and about making life better for people living in those communities.

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