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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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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The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story Laura Marley, Springboard, Falls Shankill TLP 3, Autumn 2020

Laura did her TLP course in the Falls Shankill area in Autumn 2020 via Zoom. She comes from a youth arts background and for the last 5 years has been working for Springboard as a youth development worker.

“I believe it was definitely transformative. I know that’s part of the title of the programme but it definitely was”.

Motivation

What motivated you to sign up for the course?

A Springboard staff member who had participated in an earlier TLP delivery had found it very beneficial and that’s why I agreed to signed up for it.

Experience and Learning

What did you like about the course ?

It was very interactive…The way it was designed for Zoom was good too with the breaks and the smaller breakout rooms and getting to network and collaborate with each other was good. I actually took some learning away from that too. The breakout room was my favourite thing. I don’t like being on a Zoom where the person is constantly speaking to you for that number of hours. It’s not engaging, so therefore being in the smaller groups in the breakout rooms and being able to be with your smaller group; having conversations and feeding that back into the main group was good and good learning.

What topics stood out for you?

The one thing on reflection that stood out for me was the social innovation topic. Just because we all had a shared vision, we all wanted to collaborate on something and being able to understand why maybe gaps hadn’t been filled within our own communities and why that wasn’t done. So, looking at the barriers and what could have been done or still can be done to fill those gaps. So, the social innovation aspect to that really stood out. The second thing is my own leadership style and understanding that a bit better. I learned that I fitted into the coaching and visionary styles. I now am able understand that better and how I can take people with me on a journey rather than dictate. That was interesting! I believe it was definitely transformative. I know that’s part of the title of the programme but it definitely was.

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

I actually deliver the Xceler8 Programme with Springboard Opportunities. It’s part of a Journeys Project, involving young people. Part of the programme is young people looking at their own leadership styles and what they can give back to the community. There were a lot of the TLP Sessions that I found I could adapt to be young people friendly. Looking at their own leadership styles, their own skillsets and their own community so that’s the project that I will be delivering for the next six months.

What difference has it made?

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

I have been able to look at the bigger picture of things and allow young people to understand that as well. That it’s not just political. It is more than that – it’s community, it’s coming together for a shared vision.

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

To begin with when people were introducing themselves, they would have said I am from the public sector, I am from the private sector etc. But as the weeks went on the trust was beginning to build and then you were able to identify who these people were and where they were coming from as well as myself too. So that was interesting. For the last number of years, we have been networking and have been recruiting within our own areas. I am from West Belfast and recruiting within my own network range and just building upon that has allowed me to now understand different areas, for example: the Blackie River Centre who I wasn’t really sure of and what was involved within the Centre; Falls Community Council as well - working alongside Michelle from FCC, who was on the course, as well and just identifying those key partners that we can have conversations’ with. That’s exactly what has happened - we have been on Zooms finding out about each other’s work, learning what others are doing in the community and how we can help each other and collaborate together. The most amazing thing is the networks, definitely!

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

Putting it all together it was the networking opportunity. Being able to meet people from different communities, maybe in same line of work I’m in, or different, but how we could utilise each other’s skills sets to be able to build upon our vision within the course.I think the main thing for us all was being able to share each other’s email addresses and getting to know each other a bit better and that did happen throughout the sessions.

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

I think there is a fear there – in terms of who individuals may be working with. Who we are, who I am as part of an organisation, and that fear I believe has been dispersed in terms of understanding who each person is within the community.  As the weeks went on you could see where people were coming from and what they were doing within their own communities. Learning how we can bring that together and share those stories.

To what extent do you think these changes would have happened without TLP?

It allowed me to understand the change in myself but seeing it in others too from Day 1. The second thing was awareness and the third thing is probably collaboration/working together. I have recommended the course to my neighbour who is also a youth worker I have told him about the course and he has applied for the next cohort.

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TLP Participant Story – Meabh Harvey, local resident, Suffolk Lenadoon TLP Autumn 2020

Meabh is a local resident and completed her TLP course in Autumn 2020 in West Belfast,along with participants from BCC, the Green Party, Springfield Charitable Association, Boys and Girls Clubs, Falls Women’s Centre, Ógra Shinn Féin and many others

Introduction and Motivation

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

I wasn’t aware of any similar programmes. I liked that it was community based, it was short (a few hours a week) and the topic interested me.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

Transformative leadership in general, power and systems as I didn’t know much about this before.

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

Hopefully a more transformative leadership style – buy-in from people, having a vision, confidence, recognising strengths in people.

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

Interesting, sociable, learning.

      Impact

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

Deal with people who are “above me” – for example in my football club, people who are older and have been there longer.

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

I am more aware of the interface area and the needs of the individual people in it and I am more committed to doing something to help / make a difference.

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

I think the course will help relationships in the interface areas and increased understanding of each other.

  Behaviour

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

Youth - giving them something to do, and community wellbeing – making things better for people, if in a somewhat small way.

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

I will be more confident and more aware of people I am working with, their needs and abilities and aspirations.

Attribution

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

I would not be aware of the needs of the people in the interface areas, I would not have the confidence or knowledge to act or lead.

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TLP Participant Story – Paul Doherty, Suffolk Lenadoon TLP Autumn 2020

Paul is a member of the SDLP and did the course in Autumn 2020 in West Belfast, along with participants from BCC, the Green Party, Springfield Charitable Association, Boys and Girls Clubs, Falls Women’s Centre, Ógra Shinn Féin and many others.

It was an enjoyable, enlightening experience, and one that I would recommend to anyone wanting to step-up and make a difference in their community

Introduction and Motivation

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

This programme for me was the opportunity to link in with like-minded people involved within the community and create new working relationships and partnerships going forward. Working within an interface area was also a major motivation as it would provide an opportunity to work with people I would maybe not normally in this type of environment.

Experience and Learning

  1. What topics stood out for you?

Learning of various leadership styles and reflecting on my own approach was beneficial and left a lasting impression in terms of how I would deal with certain situations going forward.

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

That there isn’t one way of doing things. Leadership requires a different style and approach for certain situations. I have reflected on my own style of leadership and have taken on board a lot of what people have said around me and will incorporate it into my thinking going forward.

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

It was an enjoyable, enlightening experience, and one that I would recommend to anyone wanting to step-up and make a difference in their community.

Impact

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

I have built good working relationships with the people involved in this project and feel very comfortable approaching them and working together in the future.

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

An important part of this programme for me was learning more about the make up of the area and who is involved in various groups and what they do within the community. I look forward to engaging with them going forward.

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

I am always on the look-out for a way to build partnership and relationships in a community setting, especially in areas where there has been the need to bring people together. Participation in this programme has created opportunities that may not have existed otherwise in terms of bringing a group of people together from different backgrounds and allowing ideas to flourish for the betterment of the surrounding community.

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

Any step that allows communities from differing sides to communicate and build relationships and partnerships is a positive step and one that will grow beyond this course and for the betterment of people in the community long-term. Many of us discussed having a ‘lasting impression’ which is important for the little time and resource we can point towards the project.

  Behaviour

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

As someone who works in the community, my main objective is to make life better for people who live there. Providing people with opportunities is key to that and I am glad to have made connections with groups in which I can link people within the community into. Part of the project we have created is about bringing people together within a community and celebrating diversity. This is something I look forward to progressing beyond this course.

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

You never stop learning, and there are many ideas and approaches in terms of leadership styles that will stick with me while dealing with situations that have been part of this programme. Working with the people around me on this course has also proved to be a massive learning curve in understanding how other groups work and what they do. As someone in a position of leadership, I will also use this learning to pass on to others and provide them with this knowledge as they make decisions and take on a leadership role in this area.

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TLP Case Study: Anne Fleming, Short Strand Inner East TLP, Autumn 2020

Anne Fleming works as part of the NI Assembly Engagement Team. Here she shares her story.

“As somebody who works in the public sector, I feel the course has motivated me to explore possibilities of greater partnership working with statutory bodies in order to improve shared space and encourage positive relations within the community.”

Introduction and Motivation

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

I hadn’t been aware of anything similar to this course when I heard about it. I signed up because I saw someone who I follow on Twitter (they work in local govt) mention that they did the course last year and got a lot from it.  They mentioned how ‘practical’ it was - I was motivated therefore to apply.

Experience and Learning

What topics stood out for you?

Lot of topics stood out especially: (i) looking at different leadership styles and the discussion around what makes a good leader, and that many styles are needed, and (ii) the discussion around collaboration and the analysis around negotiating. The personality analysis questionnaire forced me to examine and think about all of these things. The course was practical, interesting and thought-provoking. As somebody who works in the public sector, I feel the course has motivated me to explore possibilities of greater partnership working with statutory bodies in order improve shared space and encourage positive relations within the community.

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

I’m likely to take back awareness of the different views in a community, the need for communication, planning, getting people on board and taking the first step.

   Impact

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

Yes, I think I have a greater knowledge of reaching out initiatives – I feel I have gained greater confidence and motivation that I could add something by pitching in

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

Yes – definitely – I have been updating my knowledge on groups looking at outdoor space – I contributed my view on The Ormeau Parklet for example.

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

We had a discussion in the course about the various ‘stakeholders’ involved in an interface and where the power lies – giving this greater consideration and thought – we also spoke about the ‘small’ things that can we make a big difference in an interface e.g. better street lighting leads to better feeling of security, more visual art – somebody mentioned a bird table having a positive impact in their local area.

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

The course overall had useful discussions on how to develop relationships, what the barriers might be and how to overcome them, and what the possible impact could be of actions.

 Behaviour

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

Outdoor space – I wasn’t convinced in the past as to how big an impact useful outdoor space can have on an environment and people.  Lockdown in particular has made me appreciate nature a lot more.  All the evidence says it can improve mental health.  I was interested in the Ormeau story about parklets and contributed my thoughts to the project.

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

I am now aware of the need to think about effective partnership and the need for everyone (and me) to be clear on role.  Planning is also key – going slow at the start to hopefully eventually go fast as things progress.

Attribution

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

 The course opened my mind to new ways of thinking – the course allowed me to hear from others, examining theory on social innovation, collaboration and leadership.

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TLP Participant Story: North Belfast TLP Autumn 2020: Gemma Cowles, Northern Ireland Housing Executive (NIHE)

“I watched people blossoming over the 10 sessions of the course. And I learned to retreat a bit at times and to listen a bit better. It was very transformative from one end of it to the other.”

Introduction and Motivation

What motivated you to sign up to the course?

I had done a senior leadership programme in the past – but it was not as practical and pragmatic as this course. And I had trained at the Supervisory Management Course. I was looking for something to allow me to sit down and engage with people on ground. I saw what the course was offering and I can’t believe how close the course was to what was promised. It delivered exactly what you said.  I couldn’t find anything else akin to it.

Experience and Learning

What topics stood out for you?

All the course together made it what it is. It really was interactive and collaborative, you will meet people on the ground, and reflect on your own leadership style. I loved the reflective aspect, taking time out to look at me - this was brilliant – the leadership styles model and the leadership questionnaire – it made me more aware of those I lead, their potential, and the situational aspect of leadership. And the information pack that went with the course was exactly what I was looking for.

I also have more of an understanding of social innovation rather than social enterprise. And for me as a public sector worker to see what’s going on for the community in the pandemic was very important – that’s what I got from it. And yet the way it was delivered made it seem light, and a lift from a normal working day.

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

I have passed the leadership questionnaire on to my team. You could reflect back across the whole course and it made me think “how am I doing this?” The other thing I’ll take back is to think about communication – I’m in the public sector and we have lots of acronyms, so it was brilliant to sit down with other participants who bring you down to earth – it brought me back to the community and makes things more real. At NIHE, we have numerous patch managers who would benefit from the course.

How would you summarise your experience of the programme?

I watched people blossoming over the 10 sessions of the course. And I learned to retreat a bit at times and to listen a bit better. It was very transformative from one end of it to the other.

 Impact

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

Yes – our course group was fantastic bunch. We have a What’s App group set up. I’ll definitely work with Tracey from Supporting Communities – we have already emailed – I can see that I need to connect with them for what I do in my role. And it was also great to meet the people on the Futures Project as NIHE are part of the lead for that. It was also good to network with people living in North Belfast.

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

The first thing will be the collaborative project which we’ll now develop. The pragmatic side of this programme – developing a project after completing the course - is brilliant. The timing is good because after you’ve done the course, you’ve had a whole view of North Belfast. For example one participant suggested a historical tour, there’s also the possibility of something around tree planting – I like the idea of developing a project which will have a legacy and could help North Belfast for years and years to come. North Belfast is blossoming and we can contribute to it.

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

The programme definitely will make a difference. The projects are the icing on the cake – but it’s the collaboration aspect that will make the most difference - bringing people together to look at North Belfast. Once this programme is over there’s 300 - 400 people that have connected. I saw people blossoming and changing through the programme. It is easy to start with a little bit of apathy and some degree of “you’ll never make a difference” to now, people coming up with ideas and looking beyond the interface – at the end people were thinking of whole North Belfast community.

It was also noticeable that people’s religion didn’t come into this – our group had a unified approach. People started as individuals, but when you hear other people talking about the work they do with older people, younger people, etc. there was a lot of empathy, and learning about and seeing the importance of what each other does. It helps that it’s 2020 and the world has changed a bit – but also it may have helped that the COVID situation meant we were all vulnerable together. I thought the barriers were really broken down, there was no divide “I’m from this area, you’re from that area”.

 Behaviour

Are there any other ways you would bring what you’ve learned into your work?

I’m working on a huge Schools Energy Awareness programme, aimed at reaching children in 1400 schools. Doing the course and meeting the other participants has made me think much more carefully about families who do not have tablets, broadband and other considerations such as language barriers and support available for children at home. Now it is a real consideration for our project to see how we can help with the digital side of things. Without that awareness I might have whizzed on to target a certain number of children, whereas now I am aware they can only access our project if they have access to the tablets, broadband and support.

Attribution

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

I might have thought about these issues at some point, but it would not have been as emotive, it might have been a tick box before – now I will be looking to reach the % of children that do not have access. The course has changed my emotional response to a problem.  

Final comments

What are your final comments on the course?

The course was fantastic – it’s brilliant that it’s Council-led. I was involved in Community Planning for our division in NIHE and I sit with policy makers all the time, but for someone on the ground to get the opportunity to sit down with Council and make those connections is really good – it’s an inroad to Council for people. They may not have ever engaged with the Council before, beyond bins and grants, so it is great to say this is what the Council is about – benefiting you and your community. The other benefit is that there is no financial cost to the course or the accreditation. And you get so much out of it.  

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

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

Participants

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

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

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

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

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

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

Participants were asked further questions about these connections as follows.

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

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

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

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

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

Participants listed many benefits of the programme in this regard:

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

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Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants’ Stories

The Transformative Leadership Programme (TLP) is part of the Peace IV funded Belfast City Council Transform for Change (TfC) programme

More about the programme

NICVA was awarded the contract to deliver the programme in July 2019, co-ordinates the programme and works with partners across the city to deliver it: Falls Community Council, West Belfast Partnership Board, East Belfast Community Development Agency and Forward South Partnership.

The programme is a 10-module leadership training course which draws on leadership practices and approaches drawn from a range of internationally recognised models, including Collaboration Skills, Leadership Styles, Leading and Motivating Communities, and Social Innovation.

The course aims to attract participants from the voluntary and community sector, the public sector and the political sector to learn skills which will enable them to collaborate more effectively together in order to make life better in interface areas in Belfast. To this end the course particularly focuses on leadership development and relationship building, through the lens of local issues. Once participants complete their TLP course with NICVA and partners, the aim is for TLP participants to progress to develop a collaborative project in their areas with the support of Belfast City Council, and to attend area-based and Belfast-wide events as well as site visits in order to continue learning and build networks and connections.

This report contains Participant Stories from the programme which began in October 2019 and has included the delivery of 19 TLP courses across 11 interface areas of Belfast – with many more to follow. For ease of reference, the report is set out in areas: North, West, South and East Belfast.

Many thanks to all our fantastic participants for sharing their stories!

North Belfast Participant Stories

  • Duncairn Gardens

Shannon Downey, Groundwork NI (Autumn 2019 participant)

  • Limestone Road

Lesley Doherty, Tourguide (Spring 2020 participant)

Karen Pateman, DFE (Spring 2020 participant)

  • Crumlin/Ardoyne/Glenbryn

Zoe Ferguson, Cliftonville Integrated Primary School PTA (Spring 2020 participant)

  • Ligoniel

Ciaran McNeill, Ligoniel Improvement Association (Spring-Summer 2020 participant)

  • Lower Oldpark/Manor Street

North Talks Too and IFI Peace Walls Group (Autumn 2019)

  • North Belfast TLP Course 1

Jahswill Emmanuel, MSCNI (Autumn 2020 participant)

  • North Belfast TLP Course 2

Gemma Cowles, Housing Executive (Autumn 2020 participant)

  • North Belfast TLP Course 3

Ronnie Black, Concerned Residents of Upper Ardoyne (Spring 2021 participant)

West Belfast Participant Stories

  • Falls/Shankill

Group Case Study, Autumn 2019

Terry McCallum, Belfast City Council (Spring 2020 participant)

Laura Marley, Springboard (Autumn 2020 participant)

  • Suffolk/Lenadoon

Group Case Study, Autumn 2019

Michael O'Hara, local resident and volunteer (Spring to Autumn 2020 participant)

Paul Doherty, SDLP (Autumn 2020 participant)

Meabh Harvey, Local resident (Autumn 2020 participant)

  • Village/Westlink

David Murphy, Southcity Resource and Development Centre (Spring 2020 participant)

  • Colin - Dunmurry - Seymour Hill - Milltown

Margaret McDonald, Lagmore Youth Project (Spring 2021 participant)

    South Belfast Participant Stories

    • Lower Ormeau and Markets

    Group Case Study, Autumn 2019

    Group Case Study, Spring 2020

    Group Case Study, Autumn 2020

    East Belfast Participant Stories

    • Short Strand/Inner East

    John Williamson, Community Worker (Autumn 2019 Participant)

    Anne Fleming, Northern Ireland Assembly (Autumn 2020 Participant)

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    The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story Michael O’Hara, Suffolk Lenadoon TLP Autumn 2020

    Michael participated in the Suffolk/Lenadoon TLP. The course started in February 2020 and had completed only 3 days before the Covid-19 lockdown occurred, and the course was put on hold. It resumed again online and was completed in October 2020.

    Michael retired from the Aerospace Industry last year after 40 years of service. He has been involved for a number of years in matters relating to community policing, justice and prisons.

    Motivation

    What motivated you to sign up for the course?

    I was on the Belfast Policing and Community Safety Partnership and one of my colleagues on that was independent member Debbie Hamill. Debbie was from Alternatives, a community restorative justice organisation and she sent me a note about it. She said she was thinking of doing the course in South Belfast and wanted to know if I would I be interested. I was interested and I applied for it!

    I worked in the Aerospace Industry from 1979, so last year I completed 40 years’ service and I decided to take early retirement. Prior to that I had become involved in the Policing and Community Safety Partnerships, I was also an independent custody visitor with the Policing Board and a member of the Independent Monitoring Board of prisons. Last year I joined the board of Community Restorative Justice after I retired. I did a bit of mentoring on the Stars programme. So I had some knowledge of the kinds of things that were going on in the community in terms of projects. Now that I have retired I have the time to do a bit more.”

    Experience and Learning

    What did you like about the course – especially since it was interrupted by lockdown and had to be completed online?

    I enjoyed meeting different people from different backgrounds and having face to face conversations and learning from other people but to be fair after we had the gap, and it went to Zoom, we all adapted to it and it kept that team spirit going.

    What topics stood out for you?

    Leadership styles. I was a purchasing manager in the Aerospace industry which was quite challenging. I was thinking I might have done things back-to-front because when I was going through some of the questions on the accreditation booklet on defining styles I wish I had been using that in my professional role - I might have got on a bit better.

    It gave me a good perspective because instead of being in the thick of the action I was actually able to take a step back and examine different styles which I would not have recognised in the past. Sometimes when you are just getting on with the job you don’t realise the style you are adopting. I had been doing the job for a long time and perhaps I was not feeling the need to look at new styles or different styles in leadership.

    The course delivered an effective and structured approach. It opened my eyes to a different environment, one which was more relaxed and not in the front line as it was in my professional role. The tools used to determine leadership styles were effective. I did a self-assessment on my own leadership styles and there maybe was 3-4 different styles where there would be a point of a difference. I kind of knew the one which would reflect me the most but I was surprised with the closeness between the styles.

    I couldn’t have told you which style I was using in my professional role but I could now. Maybe by default I got some things right but I could have done things a lot better. I think the democratic style and affiliative style were most used in my voluntary roles but in the private sector I would admit to being over reliant on the commanding style – probably due to the pressures of the aerospace industry. When I was acting on corporate directives it was generally timebound and not suitable for a collaborative approach. Continual crisis management in the private sector meant that commanding and pacesetting styles were prevalent; this had a negative impact on the overall environment and team morale.

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

    I could certainly see a difference in the voluntary roles particularly when I was doing the custody visiting. I did that for about 7 years and I ended up leading a south-east team which covered Belfast, Armagh, Antrim and Down and even then it was all about bringing people along. It was about collaboration, working as a team and building relationships with the extended team which was the PSNI, custody staff and the policing board. It is a common-sense approach, the tools are effective and can be deployed in a community or business context.

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

    Yes, I would have the confidence to use the leadership skills and the design structures to deliver a community project within the Suffolk/Lenadoon interface area.

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

    In the PCSPs I formed excellent relationships with statutory agencies including the Probation Board, Youth Justice Agency, PSNI, NIFRS, elected representatives and Council officials. This year I am on the West Belfast PCSP as an independent member. What I found about this course is that it brought me closer to the PSNI. Selwyn who attended the course is familiar with the area and has participated in West Belfast PCSP meetings. I had not met him before, however I was able to make a connection in terms of the Suffolk/Lenadoon interface. He is knowledgeable about the issues in the area and has some suggestions for improvements in the area. I believe we would be able to work well together and share ideas and best practice in terms of implementing project improvements in West Belfast.

    Amanda was another participant on the course who I met for the first time. Amanda is a great advocate for LGBT rights. Through our conversations and discussions, I became very aware of the challenges that face the LGBT community. For example, when I considered the fact that hate crime is the fastest growing crime in NI, I began to understand the magnitude of this situation and it made me think harder about what the challenges are and how they could be tackled.

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

    There are 3 or 4 of us who were willing to give our phone numbers for a WhatsApp group. I’ve been checking in with the guys who are doing the accreditation course to see how they’re getting on. When it comes to the project we can use the WhatsApp to at least talk, think things through and come up with a project.

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

    This course has created the capacity to deliver value added projects in the interface area.

         Behaviour

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

    Being able to put the learning into practice and being able to get a small budget to deliver a project. That was brilliant! So I’d like to take that opportunity to do something through a group project.

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

    I think the key is to use the tools that we have been taught. Use the leadership, use the models of the 5 design stages. When we were doing the course one thing became clear, something most of us do, and that is jump to the solution before we know the problem. So I believe in a team environment we need to start at the beginning, go through the Empathy stage, learn consult and observe and then follow the next stages in a structured fashion, (i.e.: Define, Ideate, Prototype and Test). Hopefully we all will be able learn from this process and continue to improve on delivery and be conscious of the leadership style we are deploying.

    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?

    This was an excellent course - I would not have developed these skills without completing it. I have also built up a network of community contacts through participation on the course. I have already been talking to friends and colleagues. I was very glad it resumed again. To me it was certainly a promising course and very much relevant to the things I am doing now in my retirement. I have been encouraging members of the PCSP and volunteers and co-ordinators in CRJI to consider participating.

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