Monthly Archives: June 2018

It’s good to talk – Universities joining forces to put the Well-being of Future Generations Act into practice

Part of the role of the Good Practice Exchange team is to build relationships with a wide range of organisations and to share some innovative or interesting knowledge. We have been working with the Higher Education Future Generations Group (HEFGG) for a few years now.  They are very keen to work collaboratively with the wider public services and want to share their knowledge they have gained to benefit public services and ultimately the people of Wales.

When the idea of this event emerged it made complete sense for us to work in partnership. Particularly in relation to their approaches of how they are contributing to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act.

To explain a little more about the upcoming event, here’s Dr Einir Young, the chair of the group, sharing her aspiration of the day… 

My name is Einir Young, I’m Director of Sustainability at Bangor University and I also chair Wales’ Higher Education Future Generations Group (HEFGG), representing every HE in Wales[1]. On behalf of the group I’d like to introduce our new joint venture and invite you to get involved. This is the first in a series of blogs leading up to two conferences coming up, one in Bangor in September and another in Cardiff in November – plenty of time and information to decide whether you want in or not.

Having worked together as a group for some time we decided that it was time to put the theories of the WFGA into practice, in particular the five ways of working, asking ourselves the following questions:

  • What is the long term contribution of the group? What’s the point of us meeting every so often, and exchanging our ideas? What happens to those ideas? What can we show for our efforts?
  • Just meeting to tick a box is not a worthwhile activity so how can we prevent inertia and stagnation and make our group relevant?
  • Collaboration is something that we aspire to but too often our institutions are in competition with each other and as someone said ‘collaboration is the suspension of mutual loathing in search of further funding’. That produced a laugh, because we all recognised a grain of truth. How could we then truly collaborate.
  • Integration is another aspiration – integrating what we do rather than pursue our own goals in silos. How could we do better?
  • Involvement is another word that carries a lot of weight but is difficult to achieve. Who should be involved? Who should do what? When? Where?

As we were pondering these questions as a group at the Wales Audit Office’s Behaviour Change Conference in Aberystwyth in April 2017, Yvonne Jones from Swansea University, the last person standing from the secretariat of the original RCE Wales challenged us to revive and revitalise the RCE to reflect our new thinking and the thinking behind the WFGA. And here we are, 18 months later about to re-launch RCE Cymru in its new guise, ready to contribute actively to an international network of more than 160 similar groups who are busy putting global sustainability objectives into a local community context, with an emphasis on the well-being of current and future generations.

The RCE networks have rules of engagement and the two golden rules are that i) an RCE has to be led by a University and ii) it must engage with the wider community. So we have brought together a tiny group of three people to act as a Secretariat to deal with reporting but the rest is fluid and open to suggestions.

Currently we’re developing several circles of interest and are looking for interested participants. So far the following groups have emerged:

  • The circular economy (co-ordinated by Dr Gavin Bunting, Swansea University)
  • Healthy Universities and Colleges (co-ordinated by Chris Deacy, Cardiff Met)
  • Regeneration (co-ordinated by Dr Sheena Carlisle and Tim Palazon, Cardiff Met)
  • Teaching and Learning (co-ordinated by Dr Caroline Hayles, UWTSD)
  • Communication is a cross-cutting theme and is co-ordinated by my team in Bangor.

Other circles are starting to brew:

  • Social Prescribing (co-ordinated by Nina Ruddle, Glyndŵr)
  • Language and Culture (co-ordinators to be confirmed)
  • Sounding boards for the Public Service Boards (Nina Ruddle and Dr Einir Young – in the north of Wales initially)

So to answer our original five questions, this is where we’re at:

Our long term vision is to create a truly collaborative structure (we think the RCE set up will facilitate this) to provide ‘thinking space’ for circles of interest to explore their theme-specific challenges, in their own time and their own way. It is up to each group to decide how they organise themselves and measure success.

The circles of interest will provide a two way dialogue between the core RCE group and the circles generating a constant flow of new ideas and providing opportunities for cross-fertilisation of ideas between the circles. The meetings will be organised as required by the participants thus aiming to avoid ‘meeting fatigue’.

Collaboration has to be based on trust and this is an opportunity to explore, with no strings attached, how the whole can be greater than the sum of the parts. There is no funding to squabble over, there are no targets to dispute. There is no pressure to join and no shame in failing – we are here to learn together.

There are many initiatives associated with all the circles of interest and many attempts to force institutions to work together before the necessary foundation of mutual trust has been built. We hope that the voluntary nature of the RCE Cymru relationships emerging through the HEFGG will facilitate greater integration and sharing of ideas breaking down the protectionist ‘us v them’ barriers.

The good news is that anyone and everyone can be involved if you want to. This is not an exclusive club. The main requirement of involvement is an open mind, a can-do attitude, creative thinking a willingness to take risks (where failing might be an option) and a commitment to have a go.

Watch this space for the forthcoming blogs explaining the aspirations of each of the circles of interest in turn.

I am ready and waiting for comments and feedback to flow like a Tsumani. Let the fun begin!

[1] Originally the group was called the Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship group but morphed into our new form in response to the Welsh Government’s Wellbeing of Future Generations Act (Wales) 2015 which became law in April 2016.

About the author:
Einir YoungDr Einir Young is Bangor University’s Director of Sustainability. Her Sustainability Lab team are centrally located in the University’s Department of Planning and Governance reflecting Bangor’s commitment to sustainability and well-being of future generations.

She has extensive experience of collaborating with business and institutions who are disillusioned with a ‘one size fits all’ approach. She relishes the challenge of finding effective solutions to complex ‘sustainability’ issues, focusing on generating prosperity through respecting people and living within the resource boundaries of the planet. In her opinion the days of ‘old power values’ with its top down command and control style are over and welcomes the fluidity and energy offered by ‘new power values’ of crowd-sourcing, radical transparency and trusting people.

In her spare time she is passionate about walking. Current projects include the Wales Coastal Path and the Snowdonia Slate Trail; she recently walked around Malta – every destination is judged by the quality of its walks. Wales wins.

How ambitious could you be?

data_speechAlice Turner @YLabWales has blogged for us following our latest Digital seminar ‘Inspiring public services to deliver independence and wellbeing through digital ambition’. Read on to find out more about her experience of the day and how Y Lab can help support you if you were inspired by our event…

We spent the morning at #WAODigital18, learning and sharing from organisations in Wales that want to bring more digital innovation to their delivery of public services.

Shirley Ayres @shirleyayres from Connected Care Network said ‘No one sector has all the answers to the wicked problems. Public services should be leading the way.’

It was inspiring to hear stories and examples from different sectors, with lots of common challenges identified. As Shirley said, this is the start of the journey, so what is the next step?

Y Lab is the public services innovation lab for Wales – we develop capacity for innovation, support new ideas and research how and why public services innovation happens.

If you were inspired by the seminar and left full of ideas, we are currently accepting applications to Innovate to Save, a £5.8m programme of blended finance and tailored support to organisations that want to try something new.

Over the last year, we have supported eight organisations (including Innovate Trust, who were part of the plenary panel speakers and presented a workshop at the event) to test and research their idea to see if it worked. The next stage for those projects is now underway, with an interest-free loan to scale and implement their idea.

What would you try? If you have an idea that might create cashable savings and deliver better services, we encourage you to get in touch and talk to us about it. Come along to a talk and see what else is out there. The programme is open to all organisations delivering a public service, including local government and third sector organisations. How ambitious could you be?

In June and July, we are hosting a number of free talks aross Wales from innovators including Futuregov, Behavioural Insights Team, Welsh Government and Citymart, who will demonstrate and explore best practice and new developments in the delivery of public services. Why not join us?

Adverse Childhood Experiences: Knowledge is Power

The ACE Support Hub @acehubwales has blogged for us ahead of our ACEs: Small Steps, Big Change webinar on June 12th 2018.

Wales has big ambitions to become a world leader in tackling, mitigating and preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs). To achieve this, we must all be aware of ACEs, what they mean for us as individuals and everyone around us, and understanding our unique role in tackling them, both in our professional and personal lives.

The Resilience film tells us: “Once you give people the information, they will find creative solutions,” and we’ve already seen this start to happen in the way that some organisations in Wales have responded to learning about ACEs, changing ways of working to become ACE informed. For example, focusing on relationships, and people, not process.

The ACE Support Hub has co-produced a Skills and Knowledge Framework that will help all of us in Wales to understand our part in tackling and preventing ACEs. It will help us to challenge ourselves to think, “What can I do differently?”, and recognise what we’re already doing. The framework relates to everyone, not just frontline workers and practitioners supporting people affected by trauma, to recognise that the impact of ACEs is widespread and affects people at all ages, across all walks of life.

The Framework isn’t yet finalised, and The ACE Support Hub has collated feedback through engagement sessions with professionals across Wales. The feedback has been varied; with some thinking it’s great, and others who are familiar with the concepts. The Hub is now looking to combine it within existing frameworks.

We know that just having training alone doesn’t mean that change will happen. The ACE Skills and Knowledge Framework will underpin activity by describing the knowledge and skills required by individuals, and their organisations, to create the environment for change.

So, what does it mean to be ACE-informed?

ACE-informed individuals build relationships with people, looking beyond symptoms and behaviours and demonstrate kindness, compassion and understanding. They recognise indicators of ACEs throughout the life course, knowing that it’s about “What’s happened to you?” rather than the “What’s ‘wrong’ with you?” They understand that behaviour is communication, we need to take time understand this rather than blaming them for their behaviour. They appropriately support, signpost or safeguard. They use a psychologically informed approach when supporting people; they explore what is important to that person and what support would help them build on their strengths, skills and resources.

ACE-skilled people are reflective practitioners and demonstrate their own role in tackling ACEs. They identify and access as necessary their own support mechanisms and contribute to continuous improvement in relation to their own practice.

The draft ACE Skills and Knowledge Framework sets out the knowledge and skills for three levels of the workforce.

  • The ‘ACE-Informed’ level describes universal knowledge and skills which underpins everything else. ACE-Informed people understand what ACEs are and know the impact they have throughout life. They understand how to communicate effectively and know when they need to seek advice and support.
  • The ‘ACE-Skilled’ level described applied knowledge and skills. ACE-Skilled people are ACE-Informed and have more detailed and comprehensive knowledge and skills around understanding the impact of ACEs. They can critically appraise issues and use skills and knowledge to support people.
  • The ‘Influencers’ level describes principles for developing and sustaining organisational culture and systemic support that enables informed and skilled people to flourish and give their best. ACE-Influencers are people with a leadership and/or a strategic role. They are ACE-Informed, enable others to become ACE-Informed and ACE-Skilled and ensure appropriate workforce support is available and accessed. They ensure an ACE-informed approach to managing services and teams. Most importantly, they set the culture that acknowledges ACEs as a common, systemic issue requiring a quality response.

SK Framework V1a

The ACE Support Hub is looking for opportunities to pilot the Framework within organisations in Wales. Please contact Kelly McFadyen if you are interested in being involved in this work.

How ambitious could your organisation be in using technology to deliver better public services?

Paul Taylor @PaulBromford, from Bromford Housing, has blogged for us ahead of our ‘Inspiring public services to deliver independence and well-being through digital ambition’ seminar on 5 and 14 June. Read on to find out more about digital change, the cultural barriers and breaking free from the shackles…

We live in exceptional times.

For £50 or less you can buy an Android tablet at your local supermarket. It won’t be the most sophisticated bit of technology on the market – but it will give you access to an internet supporting half the earth’s population.

Over 3 billion people are online, sharing news, forming new communities, chronicling the history of our planet, and shaping its future. Yet, public sector organisations are still relatively slow at adapting to the opportunities of digital technology.

So if people can change their lives with a piece of kit costing £50, why are organisations spending huge amounts of time and resources on ‘digital transformations’ that often don’t achieve their objectives?

The problem is that digital change requires a completely different mindset not just skill-set. Today our customers are bombarded with thousands of pieces of information every single day, and their attention span has deteriorated rapidly.

Redesigning our services around them is more cultural than technological. It means we need to adopt different organisational behaviours.

I see a few cultural barriers we need to get over if we are to keep up with the expectations of our citizens and communities:

  • Organisations are still over-thinking digital and being cautious – waiting for the landscape to settle before they decide what they do. Arguably this ‘wait and see’ option is more ‘wait and die’.
  • Sometimes we are simply taking existing ways of working and digitising them – effectively just transferring today’s problems to another platform.
  • Some are resisting change because they think talk of artificial intelligence will upset their staff or their users – as if somehow their staff and users live in a parallel universe where Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google don’t exist.
  • And there are those who see digital purely as an opportunity to cut costs. Short term thinking rather than seeing it as an investment in your future.

It sounds simplistic – but a lot of these barriers could be negotiated if we just started with the user and shaped our digital offer around the relationship they need.

At Bromford we have launched an approach that we call Neighbourhood Coaching. It’s the result of all the testing , piloting and exploring we’ve been doing over the past seven years. The learning from all these pilots has brought us to an overriding conclusion: we can have the most impact with our communities when we truly get to know them and are freed from the shackles of how we used to do things.

Those shackles include silo working, restrictive policies, a reliance on contact centres and customer relationship ‘management’ software.

The opportunity for us is to support the right relationship with the right technology – where digital becomes an enabler to a greater purpose. For us that’s less about Bromford as the end destination and more as Bromford as a platform for connecting people to achieve what they want.

Some of this will be achieved by digital tools and some of this won’t. Our learning has been the approach is best formed by just getting technology into the hands of our colleagues and customers and trying things out in a low cost, low risk way.

Most of us can’t tell if we like something or not by reading about it. We need to see it, feel it and experience it. That’s why we focus on what we call ‘tests’. Tests are typically time-limited, minimal resource and therefore low risk. An example might be mocking something up, like a web page, and asking customers what they think, or giving them access to Amazon Alexa and seeing what they get out of it. The whole principle is to get things in front of people as soon as possible to reduce spending time and money on expensive failures.

How ambitious could your organisation be in using technology to deliver better public services?

The answer is with your customers and users – and it will probably be a lot less complicated than you imagine.