Community influence

Voice and echo in practice

Types of organisations working with Voice include community groups and networks; Third Sector Partnerships; Neighbourhood managers; LINKs; Development Trusts; Refugee Support Network; Equalities Forum. The types of things people are using it for:
• An annual health check
• To report progress and aims for the coming year
• To write funding bids
• To help Parish Councillors to recognise their role in engagement
• To recognise and appreciate what different partners bring to the table
• To develop constructive arguments to put to funders
• To become more influential!

Echo is being used by Town and Parish Councils to assess the position of Councillors in participative/representative democracy; to shape delivery of comprehensive community engagement strategies; to review participation structures in a Children’s Trust and for a Commissioning Board; to consider Housing management’s openness to community influence; to guide processes of community asset transfer.

Follow us on twitter for updates and information: @Salhampson

Monday, September 20th, 2010 Community influence

First ever National Networking event for Voice and echo facilitators

This took place 8th September in Birmingham and was a great day – very buzzy, and an opportunity for people who have taken part in Voice and/or echo facilitator training to share their experiences, hopes and ideas. Let’s hope it becomes an annual event. Many thanks to Dosti for hosting it, Vanessa Randle for the graphic recording and Sue Challis for the photographs which can be viewed on our networking site.

Thursday, September 9th, 2010 Community influence

echo update

echo, our framework to assess and develop public sector openness to community influence is now being used within Local Strategic Partnerships, thematic sub-groups and public sector agencies.

It is the first framework that is easy to get .. it is a gentle challenge .. the first framework I have seen which is about cultural change

Developed in the West Midlands with support from the National Empowerment Parntership, Community Development Exchange, Improvement & Efficiency West Midlands (L2D programme), Wolverhampton Partnership and the Black Country Take Part Pathfinder we have now started running the first echo facilitator training courses. As with Voice, these are commissioned courses which may be opened up to wider audiences and which target people who are in aposition to facilitate discussions in their organisations

echo promises to have a wide application and has already been used to:

  • help a Partnership Board to consider how genuinely open they are to community influence
  • help inform proposals for improving the quality of community engagement across a locality
  • increase awareness and understanding amongst key decision makers and influencers of the need to be open to influence and of what being open to influence looks like
  • prioritise actions to move community engagement forward across a Partnership
  • enhance understanding of engagement & empowerment.
  • contribute to an LAA NI4 Delivery Plan

If you have not yet come across echo, but this raises your interest, you can find out more in our resources section and/or join us on our network.

Voice update

Hugely useful, quite enlightening, the breadth and depth is interesting. It doesn’t require significant adaptation to be used in a variety of circumstances.

Voice, our framework on assessing and developing community influence,  is now being widely used by Community Groups, Networks, Organisations and Forums. Groups that have worked with it include: Police Independent Advisory Groups, Community Centre Management Committees, Community Anchors, Voluntary Sector Organisations, Forums and a Third Sector Partnership.

We have had an increased uptake of our 2-day Voice Facilitator Training Course, which is specifically designed for people who already work with groups and have good facilitation skills. In 2010 we have delivered this training in London, Wiltshire, & Birmingham and are due to deliver more in Redcar & Cleveland, Wolverhampton & Birmingham again. These are all commissioned course which potentially have places available for people from different organisations. Watch this space or join our network for updates.

If you haven’t come across Voice yet but like the sound of it so far, then check out our resources section to download a copy of our leaflet and handy guide, or read more about community influence under our areas of work.

Voice is of particular relevance for workers assigned/attached to particular community groups, networks, organisations, and workers working with and supporting community groups, networks and organisations.

echo update

echo, our framework to assess and develop public sector openness to influence, is now being tested in the West Midlands as part of the Improvement & Efficiency West Midlands ‘Learning to Deliver’ Programme.

It promises to have a relatively wide application and has already been used to:

  • help a Partnership Board to consider how genuinely open they are to community influence
  • help inform proposals for improving the quality of community engagement across a locality
  • increase awareness and understanding amongst key decision makers and influencers of the need to be open to influence and of what being open to influence looks like
  • prioritise actions to move community engagement forward across a Partnership
  • as part of a broader action plan on delivering community engagement in a District over a three year period.
  • enhance understanding of engagement & empowerment.
  • contribute to an LAA NI4 Delivery Plan

If you have not yet come across echo, but this raises your interest, you can find out more in our resources section.

Voice update

Recent comments about Voice include:

Hugely useful, quite enlightening, the breadth and depth is interesting. It doesn’t require significant adaptation to be used in a variety of circumstances

Voice, our framework on assessing and developing community influence,  is now being widely used by Community Groups, Networks, Organisations and Forums.

We have recently introduced it to: Police Independent Advisory Groups, Community Centre Management Committees and Community Anchors, and are soon to see how it works with Voluntary Sector Organisations and Forums.

If you haven’t come across it yet but like the sound of it then check out our resources section to download a copy of our leaflet and handy guide, or read more about community influence under our areas of work.

Voice is of particular relevance for workers assigned/attached to particular community groups, networks, organisations, and workers working with and supporting community groups, networks and organisations.

Very useful tool it has clarified things and has given us a lot more to think about

Friday, June 19th, 2009 Community empowerment, Community influence

Dispersed leadership

We have been thinking about what we understand by ‘leadership’, with the help of some ideas from ‘Power, Leadership and Change’ (OU Business School, 2000) produced by the Certificate in Management Programme Team:

Instead of seeing leadership as something invested in one person we  consider leadership as a process: – tackling the big issues that face a group or an organisation.

For example, if we agree that there are three types of core issues in a group or organisation:
Strategic: the overall direction of the group and the vision
Task: how the group will achieve what it wants to
People: maintaining the morale, commitment and enthusiasm of people over time

Then, a leader is someone who helps the group tackle any or all of these issues – meaning that there can be several leaders at any one time, all working on different things.

It is therefore possible to talk about leadership being ‘dispersed’ throughout the group or organisation – with some having more dispersed leadership than others depending upon culture and membership.

People can demonstrate leadership in different ways:

  • Reviewing where the group or organisation is going
  • Making sure people feel comfortable and welcomed
  • Searching for funding opportunities
  • Representing the group in wider forums
  • Researching matters of interest to the group
  • Knowing the local political and funding context

People can only be leaders if other members of the group or organisation accept them as leaders, accept their influence. This acceptance is often based on knowledge and expertise.

echo – a tool for public agencies

echo is a tool for public agencies to use to consider how open they are to community influence, in relation to their potential to respond to that influence. We have been talking to different agencies about it and it seems to make sense to them, so we are currently in the process of testing it out.

For a brief lowdown – download the 2-page summary and, if you want more information, you can download a copy of the original research report.

We recently ran a ‘rapid briefing’ session in the East Midlands where officers identified a variety of uses for echo:

  • It is an easy toolkit, could be useful across the County to help consistency and to talk to the non-converted
  • It could help with the Community Engagement Strategy development thought process
  • It could provide us with a baseline of where we are – and an action plan
  • It made me think differently – more deeply into what outcomes could be
  • It turns the intangible into the tangible
  • I can see how we could usefully apply this to help the organisation move forward in terms of equality and diversity
  • There has to be recognition of good practice in the organisation, echo can help us to locate this and learn from it
  • Within an LSP context it is important – funding reductions will make it hard for the LA to respond so we are going to have to work more in partnership

changes offers short (3 hour) sessions to introduce echo and facilitate discussion about how it might be useful to agencies and partnerships: contact us for fees and availability

Thursday, October 23rd, 2008 Community influence

Voice (formerly the Axis of Influence)

We have changed the name! The axis for community networks – once called ‘axis of influence’ – is now called ‘voice’. The reason for the change is that we have developed a second axis – for public sector agencies – called ‘echo’. Voice and echo are BOTH axes of influence so we wanted to give them each their own unique name.

‘Voice’ is a tool which helps community groups and networks to assess and improve the influence they have on agencies and partnerships. The ‘axis’ in ‘voice’ plots existing capacity to influence against how influential the group feels. It can be used to: assess and monitor community influence, prompt discussion and debate within groups and help plan how to become more influential.

“If this was America you’d be paying a fortune for the information and know-how that’s contained here. This model is indispensable for any organisation serious about making an impact” – comment from recent ‘Voice’ facilitator training

changes has developed a Resource Pack to help people to make the best use of voice.

voice in print

In its former guise as ‘the axis of influence’, articles about voice have been published in the Community Development Journal and NCVO newsletter.

Contact us to talk to us about commissioning a course for people in your area who work with community groups and networks to learn more about ‘voice’ and how to use it.

Tuesday, August 12th, 2008 Community influence

echo – how open to influence are public agencies?

changes recently undertook a piece of research to explore and develop a framework for public agencies to use to consider how open they are to community influence. We have called the framework ‘echo’ to reflect its relationship to our other Axis of Influence: Voice.

echo recognises the restrictions that may be in place for these agencies and so includes an aspect which considers their ‘potential to respond’. Our experience suggests there is huge interest in this and you can download a copy of the research report here.

We recently ran a ‘rapid briefing’ session in the East Midlands where officers identified a variety of uses for echo:

  • It is an easy toolkit, could be useful across the County to help consistency and to talk to the non-converted
  • It could help with the Community Engagement Strategy development thought process
  • It could provide us with a baseline of where we are – and an action plan
  • It made me think differently – more deeply into what outcomes could be
  • It turns the intangible into the tangible
  • I can see how we could usefully apply this to help the organisation move forward in terms of equality and diversity
  • There has to be recognition of good practice in the organisation, echo can help us to locate this and learn from it
  • Within an LSP context it is important – funding reductions will make it hard for the LA to respond so we are going to have to work more in partnership

changes offers short (3 hour) sessions to introduce echo and facilitate discussion about how it might be useful to agencies and partnerships: contact us for fees and availability

Wednesday, June 11th, 2008 Community influence