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 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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Creativity for Collaborative Peacebuilding Networking Event - Recording

Belfast City Council, NICVA and Partners delivered an informative PEACE IV funded networking conference on 10th June.

If you missed it or want to hear some more of what was discussed, click on the below link:

Link to recording

There were opportunities to hear from Tim Kendrick from Fife Council discussing how they are moving from a service based Council towards a more collaborative approach. 

Mark McKergow from Edinburgh spoke of leading at a local neighbourhood level and making small, meaningful differences.

Ryan Black, Director of Belfast City Council’s Neighbourhood Services spoke about having ‘real conversations’ and embedding co-design at a community level.

Councillor Mal O’Hara, Vice Chair of the Shared City Partnership gave an overview of the Belfast Agenda.

Our TLP participants from North, East, South and West of the city shared their positive news regarding their project ideas.

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Belfast City Council event for TLP Participants – 10 June

                                        

 

 Innovation and Creativity for Collaborative Peacebuilding 

Transform for Change Networking Event – Thursday 10 June 9.30am-1.00pm

As a valued TLP participant, Belfast City Council would like to extend an invitation to you to attend the virtual Innovation and Creativity for Collaborative Peacebuilding event to be held on Thursday, 10th June, 09:30am to 1:00pm.   

To register, please click: https://ndevents.co.uk/peace-tfc/

This bespoke event will enable you to strengthen your connections, gather fresh ideas and gain new perspectives.

We look forward to your support and continuing involvement to making a transformational change.

Deborah Muholland, Belfast City Council

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TLP Participant Story: Dean McCullough, DUP, North Belfast TLP, Spring 2021

“Those I know that have completed the course are now in my opinion more capable in their leadership and I include myself in that – more empowered, educated and equipped leaders.”

Dean completed the TLP in Spring 2021 alongside local residents and participants from NIHE, Ashton Community Trust, Belfast City Council, HEReNI, Start 360, Morning Star House, the Nigerian Community NI, Contact a Family NI, the HUBB Community Resource Centre, Supporting Communities, HomeStart NI, Women’s TEC and Belfast Works.

“Those I know that have completed the course are now in my opinion more capable in their leadership and I include myself in that – more empowered, educated and equipped leaders… If people want to be the best leader they can be in their respective communities, then I would challenge them to complete the course. Education is at the heart of everything – if the opportunity is there, seize it.”

Introduction and Motivation

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

Leadership ties in with politics so if you’re going to be involved in politics, you’re going to be a leader of sorts. This was about sharpening my leadership skills and pushing myself – and it is important that councillors and those working in politics are engaged at a grass roots level. It was about coming together and meeting with leaders at all levels, community, public and political sector and I found it very beneficial.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

The session on Power stood out for me. Being in a relative position of power even at a lower level it was interesting and helpful to hear the perspectives of others who were not political about their views on power and where power lies and I suppose reconciling that with my view on it too. Also, the piece on Systems was interesting and learning about systems outside our Belfast City Council system. The Vision module was another one for me. Vision is integral to politics – if you are a councillor you are duty bound to set out a vision that people can relate to and can follow alongside you – a vision for community and country – for North Belfast. I am cognisant now of how I view and set out my vision – it has to be realistic and I am always challenging myself about how we get there and how long it will take. The elastic band analogy in the vision session made me think about the importance of stretching but not snapping it – that is a balance that I am always mindful of – that practical analogy stuck with me. Also, Social Innovation was new to me too – that pushed me the most in terms of something I have not done that much of. The topics we covered pushed me and educated me and gave me a new understanding around leadership. It was good to hear from people from other parts of North Belfast and other backgrounds.

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

For me it’s about the process – quite often the process can get lost in all the noise in communities and politics. Following on from the course, I try to take time aside to reflect more in terms of my own leadership and leadership styles and the context and the vision. I use it in how I prepare for meetings, how I prepare for engagements in the community when I am meeting constituents or attending events – a tangible example is that if I’m on a panel, I think about getting the balance between Ethos, Pathos and Logos which we covered on the course – striking that balance between how emotive and practical and logical a vision needs to be. For me how we get to the vision from a political point of view is what I am focused on and how it relates to the grass roots. It’s important to stick to the process and not be swayed too much by all the emotive factors. When we talk about vision, it’s about how we implement the next steps and don’t get distracted.

Impact

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

I am now reading and watching things I wouldn’t have before, e.g. TED talks which I didn’t do before and reading around leadership – that continuous professional development is critical for me. And it has pushed me to look at doing other courses – I’m looking Peace, Conflict and Mediation. It has also encouraged me to continue to build and develop and grow my own leadership because leadership is evolving, and the context and world evolves. Another aspect was in completing the course, meeting deadlines for accreditation and undertaking research and referencing – I find myself doing that more. For example, if I’m writing an email or article, I try to reference it and make sure there is credible factual evidence to support the arguments. It’s about maintaining a standard in your leadership – there is a standard required of leaders, so I set a standard and try to raise it continuously.

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

I feel more confident in a general sense because I feel more educated and equipped in terms of what I have learned on the programme. I feel more confident in terms of looking at things in a much more process-driven way – I approach events and meetings differently, and my interactions. A takeaway for me is stepping back and looking at the impact of my leadership, who I am leading, and listening much more in terms of the communities we are in - active listening - seeing behind the words and the unspoken words.

There is a void in communities in terms of leadership – we need to train people to a level, and this course is at a level where they can assist the wider community to deal with issues. We face a range of issues on a daily basis and need to equip emerging leaders to deal with these. It made me realise if I continue to do everything, it’s not building the capacity of everyone around me. It has made me do less and more – I now manage my time much more stringently. If there are things which are not necessary, I will not focus on those. I prioritise my time much more on things that require immediate attention.

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

I absolutely do think it can make a difference – getting numbers through the course. I think a course like this should be a constant feature in communities like North Belfast because there is a difference in capacity throughout North Belfast, there is even a disparity in capacity in terms of community and civic leaders. We need to rectify that inconsistency by building a cadre of leaders across North Belfast across all communities that can take back learning and implement it in our respective communities. I see it has made a difference because those I know that have completed the course are now in my opinion more capable in their leadership and I include myself in that – more empowered, educated and equipped leaders. I think leadership is improving in North Belfast, but we should always be striving to do better, and this course helps us to do that.

Behaviour

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

It has made me really focus on my passion which is educational underachievement. I come from a working class Protestant community and seeing the statistics about underachievement in North Belfast drives me every day. Education is not a council issue per se, but it effects my constituents. I’m very passionate about courses in the community and about working class people having access to education – this course provides that access and invests the time in those people in those communities and this sends out a signal that there is a commitment there to build leaders and effect change. We need this at all levels – a commitment to support communities and bring education into the heart of communities. The TLP is free to access, it provides an opportunity and it’s within the community which is very important. Sometimes people aren’t as confident going outside so bringing education to the community and creating a culture of education within it is very important. The TLP should be a feature and has a part to play in combating educational underachievement – the more leaders we produce – and recent events show we need them - the more able we are to deal with issues. Tackling educational underachievement requires a strategy and leadership to tackle root causes.

Attribution

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

It wouldn’t have happened without the course – would I have continued to develop personally – yes but there would have been a gap there. I learned a lot on the course. You’re going up levels, but also the course is ideal because it is not outside the range of working class people but will push and stretch them. I learned things on the course that I would not have learned otherwise. It has contributed to my own personal development and helped me to develop and adapt my leadership and I feel pushed to do more. 

I think it would be good to have some sort of follow up about how to implement your learning, I’d be interested to know what are the opportunities for that.

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TLP Participant Story: Irene Boada Montagut, Springfield Road TLP Spring 2021

Irene is involved with the Museum of the Troubles Initiative and did the TLP course in West Belfast (Springfield Road) in Spring 2021.

She completed the course alongside participants from Falls Residents’ Association, Falls Community Council, Belfast Trust, Avant Ministries, Guide Dogs NI, and local residents.

“The TLP Course motivates people, it’s a time to reflect, to think, to transform to develop ideas and put the learning into practice. You can be a leader!”

Introduction and Motivation

  1. What made you sign up to the course?

My name is Irene Boada Montagut. I am originally from Barcelona but have been living in Belfast for about 25 years. I have been a part-time lecturer in Queens University, have studied in Queens University and University of Ulster and I am a journalist as well. I have always been interested in politics and society here. Coming from Catalonia, a society that has many things in common with society here, I felt that I could understand the society here very well.

In the last few years I have been working for a cross community charity. Our objective is to set up a museum on the history of the troubles and a peace centre. Our ambition is to get big funding for a network of museums of different sizes. Because we think there are so many lessons to teach to other societies in the world.

That is precisely why one of our members in our charity said this course – the Transformative Leadership Programme - looks extremely interesting and useful and I immediately thought “that is the course for me”. I was very interested in the content but also, I thought it would allow me to get to know many people who live or work in the area where we are thinking to work and that has been a big success.

I started the TLP course with Falls Community Council on 15th February 2021 and the cluster area was Springfield Road.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

The course is very much on modern theories of Leadership so it starts off talking about the importance of leadership and that’s the wonderful message of the course, that anybody can change society. It’s up to you!

So, it is not a good thing to say things don’t work for this reason or the other. Or politicians should do it or my neighbour or who ever can do it. No! I can do many things. It makes me think of Obama for example: You Can Do It. Or other leaders like Martin Luther King – I have a dream. It is wonderful and very optimistic, and it helps people to come together in groups.

Then with leadership there are many leadership styles. The course takes us through them and then we are more aware of how to do things. To work with empathy, to understand other perspectives, to be a good listener, which is very important too. It is a wonderful programme for our society and for others.

I found all the topics extremely useful. They are mostly based on an intellectual: Daniel Goldman, a person that I have been very interested in in the past 20 years, whose way of thinking is based on emotional intelligence. So basically, my understanding is: If you are working with people and you have a vision you need to work with hearts and minds. So, it is very important that people learn to look after the other and to understand that different people have different motivations and interests. So, I think it is very good for all of us.

Everyone should do the course, it is a very positive message.

Impact

  1. What difference did the course make to you?

I am the eternal optimist, so I am more optimistic because it is a very positive message. Things can be done. Things that you never thought could be done. They can be done and, in this society, there are big challenges ahead for the next generations but things can be done.  If we are willing to do it there are ways to do it.  Using technology, creativity and innovation the TLP course gives you tools to do that.

The lecturers in general are very good and some of them have a lot of experience and they can share their experiences. This course was totally different because between the teachers and students there was a good range of knowledge. The course attracted people from different backgrounds and areas of work as well as community and that was very enriching. We are working with people who are living there or work there, who know the area very well and it was very good to meet them. To me it was fascinating to be able to talk to them. I met with lots of different people who normally you wouldn’t meet and that’s one of the good things about the learning.

As always time is the big issue. People have children, they have jobs and that’s the thing about adults we are all busy people. I have been thinking I wish I had read the text more. If anyone is thinking of doing the course I would say try to read through the text more. Find the time to read the literature they provide. Time is the big issue, finding time to do everything. 

Participating via Zoom has its advantages. You can do it from your home or from your office, but it is different. When we have normal life, it is my experience that when you have a cup of tea, a little chat with somebody and you relax in those moments you can do a lot of learning. So, you need those moments of being with people.

 Behaviour

  1. Is there anything you can do now that you wouldn’t have before, or any connections you have now that you didn’t have before?

We have set up a group of work and friendship and that is great. We are very different all of us, but we have a lot to offer, and we are very happy to work together. We also have a project being planned. Deborah and Kerry from Belfast City Council have been helping us with the project development and they have been very good.

Attribution

  1. Is it possible to say what difference the course has made to the interface area overall?

I think the TLP course has encouraged people. In the interface area, there are a lot of difficulties and there are lots of things that have to be done. So, I think TLP is a fabulous idea. Perhaps it would have been useful if we had more members from the other community as well because mostly we were from the one side of the interface. Having conversations from the other side would have been useful. The TLP Course motivates people, it’s a time to reflect, to think, to transform to develop ideas and put the learning into practice.

You can be a leader!

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TLP Participant Story: Siobhán McAlister, South Belfast TLP Spring 2021

Siobhán works for Claire Hanna MP, of the SDLP and did the TLP course in South Belfast (Belvoir, Taughmonagh, Finaghy, Annadale, Ballynafeigh area) in Spring 2021.

                                                                         

She completed the course alongside participants from Belfast City Council, South City Resource and Development Agency, Belfast Trust, Tools for Solidarity, Barnardo’s NI, Belfast Asian Women’s Academy, NICRAS, and local residents.

“I think political leaders in Northern Ireland would really benefit from the TLP – they could learn so much about effective leadership, collaboration and a lot more. I think people from the political sector should realise the benefits of the TLP. It could change politician’s approach to some of what they do, for the better.”

Motivation

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

A colleague did the Transformative Leadership Programme in West Belfast, and Claire Hanna also encouraged me to look at the South Belfast TLP. I previously worked in NICVA, and this gave the TLP additional credibility.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

I thought it was great to look at your own style of leadership and management. I enjoyed the vision discussions and activities, Social Innovation and looking at how we deliver change – I got a lot from that.

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

Some of the models, for example Design Thinking, and applying these models into my own work. It was useful to look the at the Goleman and Belbin models, to think about my own leadership style, to understand what best suits me, what I could improve on, and what approaches I bring into the workplace. I got an understanding about how other people lead and where they are coming from. I also saw the importance of having a vision that people can buy into, knowing the end goal, and looking at the process of getting there.

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

“A positive experience, that facilitated connections with others”.

 Impact

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

I feel more comfortable and confident about getting involved in community style projects. I can really see the advantages of bringing the community together, having had the experience of the TLP, and I feel more comfortable about the thought of engaging with people I’ve not met before.

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

It was great in our TLP sessions as there was a good balance of people from statutory and community organisations, including people who work with asylum seekers and refugees – good to connect with them.

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

I work across the whole of South Belfast. The TLP has helped bring me back to understanding the value of different perceptions and experiences and using the skill of putting yourself in someone else’s shoes and where they are coming from. The conversations around the Holyland have reinvigorated me to think about the issues in the Holyland. I can see the value of not being afraid to try something that’s already been tried; involving different people in different situations can make something work this time.

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

The TLP is a great way to connect people from across the area and being able to have good meaningful discussions and debate with people you may not usually come across. It was so nice to go into the Zoom Breakout Rooms – I was initially worried how these would work, but after the first one I really looked forward to seeing people during the Breakout Room exercises. It was good to engage and reaching an agreed understanding, listen to the diversity of ideas and experiences, and look at solutions to problems and issues.

Behaviour

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

Possibly something in the Holyland, it’s a huge issue for us. I can see the benefit of using the skills from the TLP to reach some solutions. It is an area where year after year there are the same problems. I think we need to look beyond the focus on policing – we need to look at the processes for long-term sustainable solutions.

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

I have recently become Team Manager and all of the learning about management and leadership has been very useful in terms of working in our own team. I learnt more about motivating others in a way that means I am not micro-managing, but getting people involved in what they are interested in. I am using collaborative learning and applying the models to the work I do.

Attribution

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

I think the course has had a big impact on me. To a large extent I wouldn’t have got this type of learning elsewhere. I think political leaders in Northern Ireland would really benefit from the TLP – they could learn so much about effective leadership, collaboration and a lot more. I think people from the political sector should realise the benefits of the TLP. It could change politician’s approach to some of what they do, for the better.

There is so much to be learnt from this Programme, there were so many useful and thought-provoking conversations in each module, as well as examples of how not to do it. I would 100% recommend the course to colleagues. The organic connections I made were so valuable.

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TLP Participant Story – Amanda Laird, PUP, North Belfast TLP, Spring 2021

Amanda is Chair of North Belfast PUP & completed the Transformative Leadership Programme in North Belfast with local residents & people from BCC,Westlands Community Group, SENSE NI, TAMHI, PlayBoard NI, STAR Neighbourhood Centre & CLARE

“I’d definitely encourage people to go ahead and do the course - you learn so much about parts of leadership you didn’t even know existed… I’ve put the course on the agenda for our next meeting”.

Introduction and Motivation

  1. What motivated you to sign up to the course?

I decided to do the course as someone in the party suggested it and I thought I’d like to do it.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

I liked the session on vision, especially the equality and inclusion aspect of it. I’d definitely encourage people to go ahead and do the course - you learn so much about parts of leadership you didn’t even know existed – there’s so much more to being a leader than saying ‘I know what to do and people should do what I say.’ I’ve put the course on the agenda for our next meeting.

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

Certainly there are things I can take back to my work and community. Especially as a political activist you can have a one-track mind and just think your own way. But eradicating prejudice regarding religion and belief is about realising the other side is exactly the same – we all think the same and have the same problems. The course showed the benefits of the community getting to step back and see the bigger picture – that has been quite inspiring to be honest.

  Impact

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

I’d probably have a bigger recognition of my own strengths and assets and an ability to reflect and think about things I could have done differently in the past.

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

Yes the girls that do the community work in LOCA (Lower Oldpark Community Association) – I now have a connection with them.

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

It will make a difference because my level of capability and confidence has come up – I wouldn’t be so scared to come forward, for example to talk to young people and question the need for violence, and to speak to people on their level.

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

I certainly think this course can make a difference in the area - the more people in communities and community hubs etc. who can do this, the better – it gives people a voice.

 Behaviour

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

The social media issue is massive to me – and finding a way round it is quite difficult – it really bothers me how people say what they like, and with no retribution. And, the news media also have a responsibility for the content they share.

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

The biggest thing I got out of the course was probably confidence levels – even being able to speak to another group of people. It can be difficult to stand up in front of people you don’t know - maybe Zoom made it a bit easier (you’re comfortable in your own environment) and definitely my confidence levels in that regard have rocketed.

Attribution

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

The course has definitely helped – with lockdown there are no face-to-face meetings and it’s so difficult to connect with others – this has helped with that because even though it’s on Zoom you are connecting with people.

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Transformative Leadership Programme Participant Story – Mal O’Hara, Green Party, North Belfast TLP, Spring 2021

Mal did the TLP in Spring 2021 alongside participants from the Bytes Project, Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne, Sinn Fein, Pintsized Productions, BCC, Start 360, PSNI, Cavehill Community Choir, LOCA, Bunscoil and Naíscoil Bheann Mhadigan.

“The course is an opportunity to reconnect with real voices in your community.”

Introduction and Motivation

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

I have always been a supporter of programmes that bring people together and that connect people to decision makers. I wanted to support Belfast City Council and NICVA to build good relations and consolidate better community identity through this EU funded programme. Plus, some of the modules sold it to me. Also being online made it easier at the moment – I could block book those days to do the course. And on a political level, I wanted to connect with people in the community who were doing the course.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

Reflecting on leadership styles was really useful for me – I have done it a couple of times but it has been a while, and I’m now reflecting on it in a different position as party group leader. My own style is collective but at times I have had to make decisions. I liked the modules around conflict and change too, especially the iceberg model – what we see on the surface versus the more systemic issues. I consider myself radical – not extreme – but interested in addressing root causes and tackling issues systemically.

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

I would take back something about power and the dynamics of power. Being an elected rep you can get sucked into this and lose connection with the base and the importance of authentically engaging with people and listening and acting on their needs – the course reaffirmed that for me - it has pulled me back to my roots.

 Impact

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

I think it has encouraged me in two ways – firstly in my engagement with the business community who might not have been such a big focus for me – it’s made me think, how can I build relationships with them – so important as they provide local jobs, many of which can be part-time, for women etc. And also, it has encouraged me to try to build relations with PUL communities – it gave me more confidence to engage. Hearing the issues directly from local people gives you a better understanding, you feel more empowered to listed to them from an authentic standpoint.  

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

Yes – definitely, this would include LOCA – I already had a relationship with Janice there, but the course put me in touch with other people involved. Also, Paul Carlin from the local business community, and Ronnie Black from Upper Ardoyne. And I now have a better relationship with the other political rep who was on the course (Conor Maskey).

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

I am definitely more confident and empowered to engage with communities as a result of the course – but also it has made me reflect on how I do some things. I am a rep for Castle and also North Belfast rep for the party so it has given a better understanding of those issues. After the interface-based trouble last week first thing I did was reach out to Sarah at LOCA.

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

It’s a challenge to attribute change to one project but it has played its part. One of my critiques of our peace process is our failure to build peace. We need to be more systemic in housing and education, but people talking about tough issues in a safe environment like the course is very helpful and gives people a more realistic picture of each other. We have the same issues and there is a real power in people knowing the issues are the same: housing, poverty, unemployment, anti-social behaviour, crime. It’s powerful for people to have this recognition – a real opportunity to build on peace.

    Behaviour

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

It has presented a good challenge to me – there can be a perception of greens that it is a middle class hippy movement – the challenge is for us to make the case that this is about jobs, warm homes, etc. I need to pitch an environmental message which gets this across – if we do the work to address the climate crisis, you won’t have damp houses, you will have jobs etc. Those are easy visions to unite communities around.

Attribution

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

It wouldn’t have happened without the course, or it would have happened at a more incremental pace that might have taken years – instead it happened over 6 weeks – it builds confidence and you can act on it quickly. I have been hawking the course - it is an opportunity to reconnect with real voices in your community.

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Ronnie Black, Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne, North Belfast TLP, Spring 2021

Ronnie Black is a member of Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne. He completed the TLP in North Belfast in February 2021.

He completed the course alongside participants from the Bytes Project, Start 360, PSNI, Lower Oldpark Community Association, Belfast City Council, the Green Party, Sinn Fein, The Anthony Nolan Trust, Pintsized Productions and Cavehill Community Choir. Ronnie shares his TLP story here.

“I’d say to others: Go for it, there’s nothing to be lost doing it – it’s an add on to your knowledge, the things you do on a daily basis and you can use it in your work and personal life, even in families. There’s something here for everyone - it’s a no-brainer”.

Motivation

What motivated you to sign up to this particular programme?

Before signing up to the programme, I wasn’t aware of similar programmes in the area. I signed up to try to get a better understanding of some aspects of leadership – it’s always a challenge to get people involved and I was interested to hear how other people had dealt with similar problems. I was interested in hearing from others, networking and learning more about how to encourage people. Another group member, Gary, was there too, he was interested in the communications aspect. I have done courses on conflict, mediation, and facilitation before, and this is an additional aspect – the leadership bit fits with the conflict and mediation skills.

Experience and Learning

What topics stood out for you?

All the topics were good. I enjoyed all of it. I’d say the session on Barriers stood out in particular, as one of reasons for joining the course was to think about the barriers stopping people being involved. The tools that stood out was the PESTLER one, which helps you to analyse the barriers in your area. I also liked the Collaboration session, especially the tower building exercise – we were able to work with the others in the group - and we all became structural engineers! I enjoyed breaking up into small groups and all the networking with the other participants.

What would you take back and use in your work?

The PESTLER tool from the Barriers session – I can see myself using it in many situations e.g., when we’re looking at developing projects with residents. We could work through it to identify barriers, political, technical etc. that might stop people getting involved. This will help us to move forward. I’ll also use the piece on leadership styles.

 Impact

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

I’ve been doing community work for 20 years so have a good bit of experience. But the dynamics have changed over the years – in the past the focus would have been on security issues, rioting etc. Now the emphasis is on trying to build relationships. After the course I do feel better placed and equipped given the range of toolkits and study materials - it’s enormous – I still keep flicking through the slides, especially doing the assignment, I’m reading over it all again. I will use it to analyse perceptions and challenge things. I feel more confident and that it has empowered me a bit more. I keep thinking what’s a tool I can use in this situation.

If I hadn’t done the course, we would have kept doing what we do, but there is always a learning curve. Learning to be a critical analyst of yourself, thinking about what meetings and work to focus on - and thinking about what we need from meetings and which things to get involved in. And, looking at things from a different perspective.

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

We do engage with agencies, but sometimes they use a language that people don’t understand – this would make me analyse more what they are saying and if need be, to challenge what they mean.

What difference will this make to the interface area overall?

There is a lot going on in interfaces so it’s always hard to say about the impact of a course. The people who go through the course will learn a lot through it that they can introduce in their own current of work. Learning together will have an impact – and there is plenty of that in the course. I’d say to anyone thinking of doing it, use the course and your experience to intermingle with other courses you have done.

Behaviour

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

I’m the sort of person who would rather be involved than be out of it, so if there are things happening in the community, I will get involved and try to help because I have a bit of expertise – I could help organise things, or help when things get stuck, so that things can move on. If I can help I will - people see me as someone to come to. The toolkits and learning from the course make me better placed to point people in the right direction.

I think for CRUA we would use this to help us structure our committees and meetings properly – and also to make sure we don’t get involved in stuff that other people have a role to do. We could be out dealing with youth for example – but there are people who work with youth, let them do it. I realise we don’t need to get involved in everything – we can give our opinion and advice, but we will avoid getting bogged down with work that doesn’t concern us.

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 have gained knowledge on leadership – more experience in looking things in a different perspective and the toolkits – we will use them in a structured way that helps me to analyse things. There’s no point in going to a meeting and getting nothing from it, we’ll be clearer who goes to which meetings and for what purpose. We’ll look at ourselves and critically analyse ourselves. From a personal perspective, this is another part of the jigsaw, and adds to what I do.

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TLP Participant Story: Margaret McDonald, Lagmore Youth Project

Margaret completed her Transformative Leadership Programme in the Colin / Dunmurry / Seymour Hill / Twinbrook area in Spring 2021.

She was joined by participants from a range of organisations including: Sally Gardens Community Centre, Multi-ethnic Sports and Cultures NI, Community Restorative Justice, Colin Neighbourhood Partnership, SDLP, Youth Initiatives NI, Saints Youth Centre, and Ulster Wildlife. 

“The whole course has been exceptional; the facilitators and participants have been excellent… A confidence boosting, morale raising course which helped me identify how I can be a stronger leader in my sector and community.”

Introduction and Motivation

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

I wasn’t aware of other similar courses. It sounded very interesting, a good opportunity to network with other community organisations.It was also a good way for me to “dip my toe” into an educational course.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

The whole course has been exceptional, the facilitators and participants have been excellent.A stand-out week for me is the Work West presentation on your own personal style of leadership and the receipt of the FourSight Thinking Profile.The session on Social Innovation for change was also very valuable given that I work in the youth sector.

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

More confidence in my ability to lead young people and make a real difference in my community.Also knowing that there are so many other like minded individuals all with a desire to change our community for the better has been a real morale boost.

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

A confidence boosting, morale raising course which helped me identify how I can be a stronger leader in my sector and community.

      Impact

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

I’ll have more confidence to engage with other organisations and work with them instead of sticking in our silos.

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

For sure, it’s been great to participate in a course with so many diverse community organisations.I would feel confident in using this network of individuals to help and assist me as we are all looking to better our community in some way or another.

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

It will give me ideas on how to change and drive this change through with help of organisations which are similar to mine.

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

It will make it easier to reach out and develop an action plan for the area working in conjunction with like minded people from similar organisations.

 Behaviour

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

As I volunteer in the youth sector, I would be confident to help facilitate cross community youth groups and functions.

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

I will seek out new opportunities and try and identify where my organisation could provide more in conjunction with youth groups from our interface area e.g., Dunmurry and Seymour Hill and Blacks Road.

Attribution

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

As I am seeking a change of direction from my previous role (27 years in the Finance Sector) I would have sought out a course of some sort. However, I am extremely grateful to have had a chance to do this particular course as it has given me confidence that the direction I am going in seems to be the right one for me.

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