Community influence stories
“Voice energises and motivates people”
Sue Solly, member, Dudley Women’s Forum tells her story: “Dudley Women’s Forum lacked cohesion and focus, so when the opportunity came from Dosti to get involved in the ‘Voice’ work members decided to take up the opportunity. In the first session members were asked about how influential they think they are, some of the women felt they had no influence whilst other women felt influential in their own organisations.
The sessions highlighted that Dudley Women’s Forum lacked a focus, the forum were a group of women that came together to network. I undertook some research and brought in examples from other women’s forums across the country. The session gave the forum direction; members had little knowledge of strategic partnerships in Dudley. Then, with input from Dosti staff, Dudley Women’s Forum looked at the composition of the partnerships in the Dudley Borough and the opportunity for women to be involved in the work of the partnerships. I found the process interesting and it was a learning curve.”
Sam Watts, member, Dudley Women’s Forum, adds: “‘Voice’ enabled the forum to think practically, the women were able to express themselves and make some changes. As well as this it has given Dudley Women’s Forum direction. If the forum loses direction then members need to go back to the 10 steps on the vertical axis.”
Geraldine Walker is a Development Officer who supports Action for Disabled and Carers (ADC) – a network of 7 disability and carer groups. She said “ADC recently had their chair resign and they needed some direction. Selling ‘Voice’ to members was difficult. The first session looked at the steps and gave an introduction to the Axis. Then ADC had a full day to really work through the toolkit. When looking at the steps and indicators ADC realised they needed to do some work on step 4 ‘know what you want to change’. ADC also needed to focus on a vision as they had new and old members within the group. What ADC also realised was they need to recognise and celebrate achievements.”
“I was thinking about leaving ADC before we started working with Voice. I didn’t feel that we had a focus”.
Josh Uddin, a member of ADC’s Board
Working with Voice has helped ADC to recognise some of the things they need to focus on to become more influential and they are developing an action plan to address these.
A year later, ADC revisited Voice and were asked how they feel about the network now:
- I feel more able to talk about ADC and what we do
- I mention ADC at every meeting I go to
- I am proud to be a member of ADC
Sally Huband, Chief Officer of Age Concern Dudley, plays a leading role in engAGING, a network which brings together groups and organisations that work together with older people, aiming to offer a collective voice and engage older people in consultation. She said “’Voice’ is a really useful tool. engAGING have been struggling to move on. Sometimes engAGING members forget what they are coming for – they need to see there are some wins. Hopefully our work on influence will start to do that and give people a reason for coming.”