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 – 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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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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