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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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)

Dean McCullough, DUP (Autumn 2020 participant)

  • North Belfast TLP Course 3

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

Mal O'Hara, Green Party (Spring 2021 participant)

Conor Maskey, Sinn Fein (Spring 2021 participant)

  • North Belfast TLP Course 4

Amanda Laird, Progressive Unionist Party (Spring 2021 participant)

  • North Belfast TLP Course 5

Julie Carson, The Executive Office (Spring 2021 participant)

Tiwa, Storehouse NI & Anaka women's group (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)

  • Springfield Road

Irene Boada Montagut, The Museum of The Troubles Initiative (Spring 2021 participant)

Christine McNally, Upper Springfield Development Trust (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

  • Belvoir- Taughmonagh - Finaghy - Annadale - Ballynafeigh

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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The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story Jahswill Emmanuel, North Belfast TLP, Autumn 2020

Jahswill Emmanuel is Chair and founder of MSCNI (Multi-Ethnic Sports and Cultures NI). Here he shares his TLP story.

Jahswill did his TLP course in North Belfast in Autumn 2020, via Zoom. He had already been highly commended by the Community Relations Council for his outstanding good relations work within the community and is nominee for Volunteer of the Year Award with Sports NI and awaiting the result. His course group is now beginning to plan a joint project together and have created a What’s App group to keep in touch. Jahswill has the following advice for anyone thinking of signing up for the course:

“Whether you’re a volunteer or a board member or looking to become a leader, you definitely need this course… it’s just brilliant.”

Motivation

What motivated you to sign up for the course?

I was motivated to do the course because of the cross community work we are doing – and for the BME community there are not many courses on leadership within the sector. I wanted to learn from experts to develop myself and my organisation and to share my experience with others in ethnic minority groups and to network with others elsewhere in NI. I wanted to know about how to promote peace in NI and to know more about North Belfast.

Experience and Learning

What did you like about the course?

It has contributed to building my skills. These skills may have come in a different way but it would have taken time. This also built my networks – 80% of what I would like to do I can do with participants from the TLP – it really opened the door for connection and collaboration. It’s important because otherwise at the moment, how are you going to make connections? Being online it was a platform that brings everyone together. The online format is easy for people who don’t have time to go out – there’s less time needed because there’s no travel time and it’s hard to be late.

What topics stood out for you?

The visionary leadership module stood out because I founded our organisation with vision in 2016. Back then I was experiencing depression and found myself isolated. I am a social person and like people, so I used football to bring people together and to help me integrate more into society. Looking at the visionary leadership style explained the type of leader I am, I bring people along and carry people along, I loved that.

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

As well as visionary leadership, I will also take back collaboration and networking with other people – learning how to collaborate, the risks etc. I’ll also remember the car analogy we used – it simplifies the whole leadership scenario – you have to know where you are going, drive as well as you can, keep driving, and keep your tools ready to keep the car going.

What difference has it made?

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

Yes, before I would have been unlikely to try to organise an event engaging some communities in North Belfast where there has been conflict, but now I have made connections that can facilitate my engagement with these communities – if I want to do something with these areas I know who to connect with and work together with – before I wouldn’t have had the guts to do that as I didn’t fully understand it.

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

Yes, Duncairn Community Partnership and CCRF (Cliftonvillle Community Regeneration Forum). And through our project workshop I found out another participant, Jennifer, is linked with youth work so I’d like to work with all of these.

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

I will be even more focused on youth as they are the ones that can change Northern Ireland. We now have ethnic minority children everywhere, in school, the playground, mixing together, so it’s just a matter of time until there is more tolerance. It’s important to have cultural diversity awareness raising as we know from our youth engagement programme that while there are some friendships, some young people have limited knowledge for example about Africa – they need to know more and then they would be more tolerant.

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

Yes the course has the capacity to make a difference – the course is rich enough and the resources are there - it’s just getting people to make a difference. The connections and the networks I got through this course in 6 weeks you couldn’t get in a year. And it doesn’t just finish, there is sustainability for you to progress by doing the project and the funding is there for it.

Whether you’re a volunteer or a board member or looking to become a leader, you definitely need this course. Apart from the knowledge and experience you gain and share, when you listen to others, you see how they manage people - it’s just brilliant. Everyone should be in it to know about leadership – everybody is a leader – you just have to know a bit and know how to practice it. It’s very enjoyable when you’re trying to lead people and developing yourself. It’s good for everyone to have a go at it.

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The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story - Karen Pateman, DFE Limestone Road TLP, Spring 2020

Karen Pateman works for the Department of the Economy and did the Transformative Leadership Programme in Spring 2020. Karen shares her TLP story here.

 

“It’s not often a free training opportunity with the option to achieve a world standard leadership training qualification comes along. Seize the moment and ask if you can attend.”

Motivation

What motivated you to sign up?

The main aim of TLP is to build leadership skills and connections between people living and working in interface areas of Belfast in order to make change possible. That type of aim interests me as I am from Belfast, live in Belfast and work in Belfast. Essentially I care about Belfast, in particular North Belfast, and I saw this as an opportunity to get some leadership skills but also potentially be a part of something good in the community. 

In addition to my day job I am also a Non‑Executive Director (NED) of Groundwork NI, a North Belfast Based Charity and being new to the Community and Voluntary Sector I saw the TLP as an enabler to help expand my network of professional connections.

Was the course a good fit with your work?

How did you feel the programme fitted with your work in the public sector?

For me, New Decade New Approach and the Programme for Government (PfG) puts collaborative working and co-production at the centre of our work and the outcomes we want to achieve for the public. So, what better way to link a training opportunity back to work than by pitching it to management on the grounds that it was going to develop my collaborative leadership skills to be better used in the workplace and help me to understand local issues in the wider context.  Plus, its free – I think that clinched it!

It’s not often a free training opportunity with the option to achieve a world standard leadership training qualification comes along. Seize the moment and ask if you can attend, the best that can happen will be that you are encouraged to apply and the worst may just be that you have to wait for the next programme, or the one after that.

What did you like best about the course?

I’m passionate about leadership and learning about it – so it was an obvious choice for me but in addition:

  • I’m a people person and I really enjoyed meeting and working with all the participants
  • I enjoyed the practical exercises and the balance of learning techniques
  • I found the course materials and reference tools useful and still refer to them
  • I had great fun - no better way to learn.

Can anyone do it?

Naturally this is something you will need to discuss with your line management if you are interested as we can’t all be out of the office (living room or kitchen) at once.  When you pitch it to them, make sure you figure out first what skills and best practices you personally will gain and be able to share with colleagues. 

I don’t live in an interface area how can I apply?

You work in Belfast though, and will have a wealth of knowledge of our Department and what we do for the public. While the main focus is interface areas, NICVA are really keen to have more public servants on the programme and expressed how feedback received from other participants stated the value of having public sector colleagues involved.

I would encourage you to read the testimonials of public sector colleagues: https://www.nicva.org/article/i-work-for-a-public-sector-body-why-should-i-take-part-in-the-tlp

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The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story - Falls Shankill TLP Autumn 2019

The first group to do the TLP course in the Falls Shankill area completed in Autumn 2019. The majority of participants had not participated in any similar type of programmes. Here are their reflections on TLP. 

Since the course, the group took the initiative to set up a WhatsApp group which was a very positive indication that contacts and bonds formed would continue beyond the lifetime of the course.

“It was felt that as a result of the course there would be a more joined up approach across community and statutory/ public agencies, evidenced in the formation of the WhatsApp group.”

 

Motivation

What motivated you to sign up?

The general feedback was the opportunity to network and learn from others. Also the fact that the course delivery i.e. one full day per week over 5 weeks was manageable in terms of taking time out of work for participants. This short-term delivery was also attractive to employers.

Experience and Learning

What did you like?

Overall, the group were happy with the delivery, group size, location, presentation, friendliness and openness of other participants. Feedback evidenced a very positive experience from all participants as well as an eagerness to promote the programme within each person’s workplace to encourage work colleagues to participate in future roll outs.

Which topics stood out for you?

Different topics stood out for different people, for example:

  • Leadership styles
  • Transforming relationships
  • Transforming conflict: learners expressed an interest in developing the Broadway model as a template for future work.
  • Social innovation tools: this new technique of thinking outside the box was challenging for some.

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

Participants would take group work, sharing of knowledge, strength in collaboration, listening and learning back to their communities.

What difference has it made?

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

It was felt that as a result of the course there would be a more joined up approach across community and statutory / public agencies, evidenced in the formation of the WhatsApp group.

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

It was suggested that there would be more face to face meetings, improved working practices across the board and a clearer understanding of the sensitivities of those living on interfaces.

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

Feedback from participants indicated a realisation of the complexities faced by communities living on interface areas: their fears, anxieties, desire for change, the inter-generational differences, the need to include those experiencing life in the interface and to support transition in a way that is inclusive, empowering and includes a package of regeneration.

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The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story - Suffolk Lenadoon TLP, Autumn 2019

The first Suffolk Lenadoon TLP group completed their course in Autumn 2019. We hear more about their TLP story.

“I have better input into how I could help in my interface areas.  I’m new to this type of work and knowledge is power.”

 

Motivation

What motivated you to sign up for the course?

I have better input into how I could help in my interface areas.  I’m new to this type of work and knowledge is power.

Experience and Learning

What did you like about the course?

Every topic was beneficial – it has provided me with a better outlook and view.  The facilitation was good.

What topics stood out for you?

Everything really.  I have a better view, my confidence is better and I have a better idea of where I need to develop further. Team building, listening and hearing views. It was educational, peer learning.

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

I would use some of the tasks and exercises with our own groups. 

What difference has it made?

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

All of the above.  Processes / collaboration – all new concepts and I better understand them now.

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

I have confidence, a better outlook. More engagement with the community. I probably would have got to where I needed to be but the course really helped me fast track this. 

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

I will be more confident so hopefully the work I lead will be a better quality.

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The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story - David Murphy, Village Westlink TLP Spring 2020

David Murphy works at South City Resource and Development Centre. Here he shares his TLP story.

David did his TLP course in the Village Westlink area during Spring 2020.

“The course shows that people can make a difference – but there has to be a method. That’s what the trainers gave”

Motivation

What motivated you to sign up for the course?

I signed up for personal development and change, knowledge of the subject areas, and new and imaginative relationships between and within communities to create better ‘good relations’.

Experience and Learning

What did you like about the course?

I learned from the whole course and I especially learned from the project planning and team building and communication modules.  The small group work was very useful. I learned a lot of real ‘stuff’ that is useful.  The group work was also very useful and I learned a lot from this process. The course was of a high standard, the questions were challenging, and the group work was a great way of getting through the learning. The trainers were good – there were complicated concepts that they did well.

What topics stood out for you?

I especially learned a lot from the project planning module.  This has challenged me to critically reflect on the need, process and procedure for project planning.  The facilitation of the course was good because of the educational delivery, it involved diverse techniques such as small group working.

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

The need for communication and listening as an integral of leadership.  Further the importance of a process into planning and decision making.Lifelong learning is key in personal development.  The course has provided me with new perspectives on methods of working and styles of working. Through reflective practice I will be challenged to evaluate on the quality of my work and to listen to the ideas of others.  My approach will be based on the concept of empowerment.

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 will spend more time in the process of planning and working in relationships with others.  Working towards the creation of better working relationship is key to the process.

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

The Housing Executive and civil servants.  Statutory agencies are a complex language that can be complicated to understand. The PSNI and the Community Together (PACT) an interagency group that meets in the Duncairn, Tigers Bay areas, I will get more involved in this group as it works to create a better area and a more stable interface.

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

There is a real need for a process between the two communities. This should facilitate better and positive working relationships.  Problem solving and honesty are further key points of building the process of engagement on practical issues.

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

The interface problems are shared problems.  There is a need to collaborate on issues of mutual concern for the ‘common good’.  Understanding of the other is developed through people visiting communities across their respective interfaces.The course shows that people can make a difference, but there has to be a method. That’s what the trainers gave.

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The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story John Williamson, East Belfast TLP, Autumn 2019

Here, John Williamson, local interface community worker, shares his story.

John did the first East Belfast Transformative Leadership Programme in Autumn 2019 – his group are now well underway with their collaborative project.

The course will help the area through improved relationships, newer people getting involved and it will help the area move on through new practical projects.”

 

Motivation

What motivated you to sign up?

I wanted to learn more about leadership and apply it in the area.

Experience and Learning

What did you like about the course? 

I enjoyed the whole programme, especially the community walkabout, and the specific focus on applying our learning to interface areas. The exercises were very practical. It was relevant, practical and enjoyable.

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

A better understanding of how we can get help from others in the interface area.

 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 would play a more direct role in chairing difficult meetings. And I know who to speak to for support. It has given me more confidence in myself and greater understanding of others.

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

Yes, like Alternatives, local councillors, EBCDA, Department of Justice - through our own group committee, and other community groups, and engaging with councillors. We’ve set up a What’s App group for people who did the course and keep each other updated on our project.

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

I would engage more in environmental stuff, street based youth work, cultural and historical projects. Our course group is now working on a funded project together – we are transforming a piece of waste ground at Beechfield Street into a children’s garden and play area. We’ve already got it cleared and have a kids’ shed and planters. There will be picnic tables and greenhouses going in too. Our plan is to have individual planters for kids, and next year we’d hope to run courses for them to learn about planting. The kids love it already.

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 wouldn’t have been as confident. This is the first course of this kind that I’ve done and I’ve become very confident in talking to people – I’d be happy to come along and talk to any of the other courses if people want to hear from a past participant.

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 will help the area through improved relationships, newer people getting involved and it will help the area move on through new practical projects.

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The Transformative Leadership Programme: Participants tell their story - Zoe Ferguson Crumlin Road Ardoyne Glenbryn TLP Spring 2020

Zoe Ferguson is Treasurer of Cliftonville Integrated Primary School PTFA. Here she shares her TLP story.

She did her TLP course in the Crumlin Road / Ardoyne / Glenbryn Area in Spring 2020 – the course had only completed 2 days before the COVID lockdown kicked in. After a short interruption, the course was completed online. The group has now planned a joint project together and have created a What’s App group to keep in touch.

“It was well worth taking part and I would definitely advise others to take part.”

 

Motivation

What motivated you to sign up for the course?

I hadn’t known about this programme until our outgoing Chair told me about it. She sent me a link and when I read the information I thought I’d like to do it, because we are a new group (only going 2 years) and I thought it could help us.

Experience and Learning

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

Starting the course face to face was great, but due to the Covid-19 situation everything was put on hold. When we were told by NICVA on our last day of face-to-face training before lockdown that you wouldn’t leave us hanging and we’d find a way to complete the course, I really felt we would never get the chance as the circumstances were so bad. But very soon after everything was up and running again all online - at the start I wasn’t sure how it would work. When it was offered online, I had to step out of my comfort zone – it was daunting. But now, I’m really glad that we had the chance to do it that way and it helped that it was a lovely group. It was so easy to speak to each other and we gave advice to each other. Using Zoom we finished the course - it was great to get back and involved with others again. Using the breakout rooms worked great and hearing different views from others also. Guest speakers also joined us and we didn’t miss out. It was well worth taking part and I would definitely advise others to take part.

What topics stood out for you?

The session on ‘Addressing Barriers to Transformation' really stood out for me. I used it to think about our own group, the barriers we need to address and how to approach things differently. I also liked the session on 'Leadership in Action' where we had speakers from other local organisations – it was really good to hear from others who weren’t part of our training group. I’d sum it up this way – it was a learning approach to look at things in a different way rather than just assuming “this is how it’s done”.

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

I will definitely look at ways to avoid and address barriers when we get back together again. And I’ll also use the idea of letting people use their voice – making sure that people participate more in the group.

What difference has it made?

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

Yes, I’d be more confident to encourage others to step forward and get more involved. The course has made a difference. When I get back around the table with my group I will use what I’ve learned and will push in the direction of the things I learned on the course. I took on the role of Treasurer of the PTFA and still feel happy to keep doing that. I liked how during the course there was advice from others about how to deal with things and other ways around obstacles that I hadn’t thought of. I will definitely use that.

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

Because we’re so new, we feel we can approach anyone. After our Project Development Workshop, I was able to go to the school Principal and put the project idea to him confidently. I will make sure we keep the connections I’ve made in the course, including with the Council, because this could open other doors.

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

I feel that right now I’m involved in the right thing for me. I was keen for my children to have an integrated school experience and not to differentiate between children from different backgrounds, whether Catholic or Protestant or from other backgrounds, and to understand that everyone is equal. But I would jump at other opportunities if they arise and I feel I can contribute.

Our Transform for Change project will make a difference. Our idea is for a Community Garden, with an emphasis on creating a cross-community active space where people can get involved in activities. We want to get people from all religions and all backgrounds to get involved. Our course group has set up a What’s App Group and we’re already exchanging ideas about what we could do next – for example one of the group suggested that we have a speaker talk to us about accessibility in relation to the garden.

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

It will make a difference because, if our project goes ahead and is as good as we believe it can be, it will give other people a push they need to make a difference and take things on themselves.

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

Here, participants on the second South Belfast TLP share their story.

Nine members of the second South Belfast TLP Programme participated in the focus group to inform the Case Study. Participants included those working in community organisations, the PSNI, the Housing Executive, volunteers, and a Post-Graduate. The course started in February 2020 and the eighth module was completed in mid-March, just before lockdown. The two final modules were postponed due to Covid 19 and were completed online in May. Participants were looking forward to visiting several interface projects across Belfast, which have been discussed during the programme. The participant from the Housing Executive has volunteered to organise these visits post Covid-19.

“People need to be aware of the opportunity that this programme offers. It is quite unique”.

 

Experience and Learning

What did you like best about the programme?

The diversity of the group – everyone doing different roles at work and doing different things, the range of experience and skills within the group; and people bringing different perspectives. The group enjoyed meeting new people with whom they shared a common interest.

“We very quickly felt comfortable together in the group; and although we all work in different fields we share the common wish to know more about Transformative Leadership”.

Participants enjoyed the practical activities; participating and working as small teams, including building a tower out of basic materials as a collaborative team “I’ll never forget our tower – it would still be standing”. They also enjoyed the challenge of presenting the vision in a creative picture or three-dimensionally.

The group enjoyed the mix of theory and practical activities. Participants welcomed the handouts that had been prepared for them to take away which enabled them to go further into theoretical issues without losing the opportunity for discussion; which facilitated the sharing of practical experience and expertise from different perspectives. Participants said:

  • “The programme has been inventive and creative – we have stepped out of the role and norms of the role we are in. People need to be aware of the opportunity that this programme offers. It is quite unique”.
  • “I have referred people onto this course after the first two modules”.

What topics stood out for you?

There was a consensus amongst the TLP group that the Programme was especially useful in the following ways:

  • On things we already knew a bit about it was good to have the refresher
  • Structures
  • Mental models
  • Breaking down an event
  • Problem analysis
  • The activities – “the ideas and approaches are things I would like to use in the future”
  • A lot of food for thought
  • “This was very different to the training we are used to receiving, but in a good way, giving us a different perspective”

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

  • Having the Vision – “for me having something where you can place yourself in a scenario and having a visual perspective was beneficial and interesting and I would use this constantly in the future”.
  • “Design Thinking – this was a new concept to me. I would use this in terms of bringing something new back to the team and take the time to do it properly, following the processes we discussed on the training. Our work tends to be responsive and reactive – this would be something to bring to a practical team day, although I would do a bit more work on it myself first”.

What difference has it made?

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

Participants fed back different thoughts in response to this question; however there were similarities in the need to be more analytical at times (“which is important to remember in community work as sometimes we can just rush in wanting to do the best in a situation”) and discussing ideas with others.

  • Be more analytical about the situations I am in
  • Step backwards at times and look at the best way forward, rather than rushing in
  • When looking at new challenges or projects, involve and engage with others more
  • Organise times for team discussion using some of the tools and processes we have tried ourselves during the Programme.

“I have started using the language that has been used in the TLP at work; it is very relevant to the things that are happening in communities at the moment, TLP stuff keeps cropping up. A lot of the things we have covered are obvious and common knowledge, but putting it into the context of the Programme you think about it as a whole. I hadn’t previously made the linkages”.

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

Participants valued making connections with people from other organisations and sectors working in the area: 

  • “Through this Programme I have made new contacts. For example, I plan to meet with Neighbourhood Officers of PSNI to address and achieve solutions related to small elements of conflict”.
  • “We will continue to have access to each other through WhatsApp”

What difference has this made to how you will engage in interface areas?

Particiants’ feedback included:

  • We now have more knowledge about ways of looking to find solutions.
  • It is possible to use different methods to get to where you need to go.
  • I can see the different ways in which people are looking at things (challengers, finishers etc). With some groups we need to go back to basics to help the community evolve and go through the journey together.

“This is the area I work in and an area I am comfortable with and aware of the challenges. Before the TLP I had a good sense of what works well for us. Through the Programme I have seen the benefits of using new approaches – along with what we already do – especially the visual exercises. I’ve also seen the importance of acknowledging the good work we have done and celebrating when things have worked well, and how far the community has come on”.

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