now…August/September 2017

This is what I’m doing now. It’s a mix of what I’m working on now, what’s coming up and a spot of working and thinking out loud.

Sharing Learning Doing (my work)

  1. developing a first trusteeship programme with Robert Laycock to encourage people to become trustees for the first time, and matching them to charities that need them. The programme includes a trustee competency framework, training, mentoring, peer support, skills audit and a personal development plan. We’re finishing up the competency framework now focusing on the skills, knowledge and behaviours needed to be an outstanding trustee, and will be running the first of two training sessions at the end of September
  2. working with a Gateshead social enterprise to evaluate a 12-month pilot project to help young adults take on tenancies and learning about financial capability. The work includes working together to design straight-forward systems for the pilot plus evaluating whether the pilot has made a difference to the young adults it is aimed at
  3. starting a 12-month project with a Gateshead-based charity that works with asylum seekers and refugees. I’m working with around 12 of the charity’s members to grow and nuture an advisory group to take a stronger role in shaping the charity. We’re using a straight-forward framework of where are we now, where do we want to be, how will we get there, and then making a start on their plans. So far we’ve shared our assets, strengths and skills (gifts of the heart, hands, head) and I got cramp in my hand cutting out heart, hand and head shapes. In the future we will map what the advisory group does already, then design and run a simple research project to find out what other people expect of the advisory group before working out what the group would like to add, change, keep or stop doing
  4. creating a social media workshop with William Mortada to help a group of charities use social media to promote human rights and to better support their clients/the people they help use human rights legislation
  5. working on an evaluation with Neil Shashoua of Trapeze Consulting for a Newcastle-based charity, running 2016 to 2018. It’s a longitudinal study following a cohort of English language learners over two years. We’re working on progress report 3 now and will start the next phase of interviews in September
  6. working with a small group of people to set up a new website to help celebrate the amazing people and fantastic organisations doing great things in the north east. It has been pretty slow going so far although I feel we’ve done things as quick as we could with what else has been going on. I’m really excited about this — the idea and working with a small group of people on something we all care about
  7. writing A few good things to share, my newsletter to share inspiring, useful and exciting things. I haven’t been doing well with this but I’ve now added it to my calendar and to my to do list to try to make it happen

My learning and networks

  1. learning and practicing how to be a coach by doing a level 5 coaching and mentoring ILM certificate run by Cath Brown
  2. being an active member of North East Together, the network for social leaders in the north east. I’m going to be working with Marie Mumby and Robert Laycock to evaluate the impact of the network in the next couple of months. I’m hoping to use Kumu to map the network and understand the connections
  3. keeping up my interest in collaboration by joining a new collaboration working group led by Lyn Cole (no relation), a working group of North East Together. Lyn and the rest of us are building on Collaboration Superheroes, the working group I co-hosted with Robert Laycock last year. Collaboration Superheroes met four times in 2016, and together we created a collaboration framework
  4. reading Hope in the dark by Rebecca Solnit for my book group. Our next meeting is 12 September — if you’d like to join, let me know. The book is brilliant, giving hope and a sense of power at a time when things don’t feel that hopeful and that power is in the hands of ‘others’ not us
  5. being involved in Urbanistas North East (I’m part of the planning group). Urbanistas is a women-led network for women working on social change in cities

Being an active citizen

  1. volunteering as a trustee and chair of Northern Creative Solutions, which runs Broadacre House, a meanwhile space project turning an empty 40,000sq ft/6 storey office block in Newcastle upon Tyne into a thriving community hub and home for charities (30 at the moment), social action and creativity. Unfortunately we were served our six months notice in June so need to leave by 1 December. We’ve worked hard to find a new space in Commercial Union House, another meanwhile space in Newcastle city centre. Some of our current BH members will come with us but not all as it’s smaller and not everyone has liked the reality of meanwhile use. It has been a challenging summer sharing this news and managing the change with our staff and current members. We’ve tried to be as open and honest as we can about what is happening, which has mainly worked well. I don’t think I could have done it any other way. It has helped stating what we know to be true about ourselves:
  1. volunteering as a trustee of Scotswood Natural Community Garden. We run and manage a beautiful garden in Scotswood, Newcastle upon Tyne, to help people learn about nature, sustainability and growing and be more healthy
  2. running (with William Mortada and Holli Brown) Newcastle Social Media Surgery to help people (community activists, charities, community groups) to use social media better. Our next surgery is on Thursday 31 August so if you or someone you know needs help with social media, come along

I stole this idea from Derek Sivers. It’s such a good idea to steal that loads of other people have done the same and there’s now a now page movement plus a website that lists people’s /now pages nownownow.com.