Category Archives: Cymraeg

Building Resilient Communities: Mind the Gap

Charlotte Waite @charlotwaite from the ACE Support Hub @acehubwales has blogged for us ahead of our Building Resilient Communities Event.  She is challenging herself, and all of us, to be someone who contributes to resilient communities, which is very different from DOING resilient communities.

At a lovely lefty festival I had the privilege to be at this hot summer, my daughter came out of the impressively clean portaloo commenting on how she was going to take the toilet’s advice and ‘smile at someone today, because (she) might make all the difference’. What struck me was that she’d read the faded sticker and it had meant something to her. I too had read it (as I strategically hovered) and the words had passed through my eyes as if I was reading ‘mind the gap’ or ‘please drive carefully’. Yadayadayada. My brain must be sending a signal to my awareness saying “nothing to see here, we know all this already” and so I come out of the loo without a reflective moment. After all I’ve been doing ‘help’ in a ‘helping’ field for many years. I’ve been on the courses and given the lectures.  Smiling is the basic basics, everyone knows that.

Truth is, though, that between me and my 9 year old daughter, the person who needed a reminder about connecting and kindness is me. Because even in a festival of joy I was busy ‘doing’ festival, consuming and soaking up what I can, squeezing every ounce of hedonism out of MY weekend so I could feel that I’ve got what I came for. Ironically, part of what I came for, is a shared experience of happiness. It’s easy to spread love in a festival because the personal risk is much lower. Smiling, hugging, feasting, dancing, chatting… connecting and feeling alive are all part of what I paid for. I went home filled with love and paid-for shared happiness. Home to my street where I say hello to my immediate neighbours, chat with a couple of them about kids, parking, extensions and bin collections but generally we go about our lives independently.

So not much smiling, hugging, feasting, dancing…..connecting and feeling alive in my own manor. Hmm. Here the risk to me is much greater. Well, what if they don’t want to connect? What if they don’t like me? What if they find out what I’m really like? And anyway I’m too busy. I’m too busy rushing off to my community group all about kindness to ask my neighbour how she is, when I know her husband has left her and her children. Yes really. This was a real reflective moment on a rainy Wednesday evening when I saw her broken heart on her face as she went in her house as I was getting in the car. ‘Mind the Gap’ between my rhetoric and my behaviour loud and clear this time.

I took the risk and knocked the door, we talked about our lives, our children and began a connection. It was scary and I’m still not sure she likes me but I feel like I have communicated that she is not on her own and that feels very important.  It will take time.

So, am I saying we should model resilient communities on festivals? At a festival there’s no hierarchy, no supporters and supported, just people. Sharing joyful and fun activities together connects us: breaking bread, dancing, playing; losing inhibitions inherent in our real life roles as ‘helpers’ or even as neighbours. I’m not suggesting we go home and set up twee street parties but I am suggesting we take risks in relationships, without vulnerability we can’t create authentic relationships and yet we know it is authenticity in relationships that creates resilience. Knock the door, offer to break the bread.

How can we lose some of our personal inhibitions and find ways to connect joyfully, eye to eye (not screen to screen) without having to pay for the experience? Or professionally without ‘doing’ the best practice model when we get to work and demonstrating the outcomes to those that pay us. We know the importance of sports and community groups to build resilience in children (Link to resilience research here) but do we all get in our cars and drop our kids off at these while we catch up on screen time? I’m noticing the ‘please drive carefully’ as I navigate this one for myself. I could definitely bring more to this street party. I am challenging myself to BE someone who contributes to resilient communities, which is very different from DOING resilient communities. I’m reminding myself to stop for a minute and be curious. To see ‘mind the gap’ and notice where it applies to me but I can only see it if I’m going slowly enough to notice it and then notice how it makes me feel and be brave enough to bring myself to the party.

“We don’t have to, but we want to!” RCE Cymru Sharing Their Knowledge with Public Services

Universities in Wales don’t fall under the remit of the Well-being of Future Generations (WFG) Act, so why are they forming a network to research and share their knowledge, helping public services work towards the WFG goals?

The simple answer is that they’ve found working within the WFG framework to be beneficial to their research and are embracing the potential impact of sharing their knowledge.

RCE Cymru is a network of all the universities in Wales who are working together in specific groups called ‘Circles of Interest’ to help improve public services, by researching and sharing their knowledge with each other. The impact of sharing their knowledge could help public services make great strides towards the WFG framework. The Good Practice Exchange are working in partnership with RCE Cymru to bring you an event exploring these ‘Circles of Interest’ on 7th November, at an event called “It’s Good To Share”. You can register for the event by clicking here. Find out more about RCE Cymru by following @CymruRCE on Twitter.

 

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GSWAG: Keeping Data Live

Does your organisation have the right kind of data to future-proof decisions?

Hear how Gwent Strategic Well-being Assessment Group’s (GSWAG) are looking past traditional data sets to make their decisions about well-being. GSWAG want to know more about local conditions for well-being from the lived experiences of their residents, and are looking at likely future trends that may face the Gwent area over the next 25 years, to help better prepare and plan for the future. They’re using a very different type of data than they’re used to, getting out of their comfort zone to shape their decisions with future generations in mind. Watch our vlog to find out more

GSWAG: A Collaborative Partnership

Partnership working is the way forward for public service delivery. Partnership is hard work, we know that. But the benefits to public services are huge.

We recently got to hear about Gwent Strategic Wellbeing Assessment Group’s (“GSWAG”) approach, so we went along to one of their meetings.

We heard how they are working in partnership to achieve more by learning from each other, by collaborating on the same agenda items. They’re working under the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, putting some of the five ways of working in practice. They’re able to avoid duplication, share their expertise by utilising a common language and giving each other the space to ensure they can discuss areas of contention in a constructive way. They recognise that by working in partnership, they can go far further and achieve far more than they would alone. You can find out more by getting in touch with Bernadette Elias or Lyndon Puddy.

Circular Economy in Wales

circular economyThe Good Practice Exchange is always looking out for innovation and interesting ways of working, so when we found out about the Circular Economy Research Group’s work, we were keen to share.

Dr Gavin Bunting is an Associate Professor and Deputy Director for Innovation and Engagement in the College of Engineering at Swansea University He has written a blog ahead of the RCE Cymru ‘Good To Share’ event we are working in partnership with, to be held in Bangor and Cardiff.

The group has been involved in some really interesting research on how we can reduce waste in Wales, and create a circular economy, which could see Wales benefiting by £2 billion a year. It’s ideas like this that are going to shape Wales for future generations, with sustainable development at the heart of their work. Have a read of his blog below to learn how the Circular Economy Research and Innovation Group for Wales have worked collaboratively, making strides towards achieving the goals of the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015


The UK generates 200 million tonnes of waste ever year with almost a quarter of that going to landfill, whilst many of the resources needed for critical applications such as power generation, communications and medical equipment are becoming more scarce.

In addition, most of us have come across the scenario where it’s cheaper to buy a new printer, washing machine, phone, etc than it is to repair or upgrade it. Why should this be the case?

One solution to tackle this excess waste and obsolescence is to move to a circular economy where products are designed:

  • To last longer
  • To be upgraded, repaired and re-used
  • To enable easy recovery and recycling of constituent materials they contain at the end of the product’s life

The potential economic benefits to Wales of operating a circular economy have been estimated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and the Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) to be £2bn annually, for the two sectors of: medium-lived complex goods, e.g. automobile, electronic equipment and machinery; and fast moving consumer goods, e.g. food and beverages, clothing and personal care.

Moving towards a circular economy requires a multi-disciplinary approach, encompassing research and innovation into areas such as: designing products for refurbishment and re-use; developing new materials and extracting useful resources from natural materials; developing new business models that incentivise the manufacturer to design a product for longevity; and investigating how can we communicate the opportunities and challenge perceptions of circular economy.

We have a lot of this expertise in Welsh universities and by working together we can address circular economy challenges. I therefore worked with with colleagues in the Higher Education for Future Generations Group, Wales, the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) Wales, the Welsh Government and Swansea University to set up the ‘Circular Economy Research and Innovation Group for Wales’.

I therefore worked with with colleagues in the Higher Education for Future Generations Group, Wales, the Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) Wales, the Welsh Government and Swansea University to set up the ‘Circular Economy Research and Innovation Group for Wales’.

The proposed aim of the group is to connect complementary expertise and experiences to facilitate circular economy innovation and research in Wales, achieved through the following objectives:

  • Provide a forum to share good practice and facilitate knowledge exchange between academia, business and policy makers.
  • Through collaboration, increase circular economy research capacity in Welsh institutions.
  • Engage with industry to develop industry led research.
  • Provide evidence to inform Government policy and programmes.
  • Develop an online forum to facilitate exchange of good practice, funding opportunities, news and events.
  • Showcase the network’s circular economy outputs internationally, thus supporting the development of international partnerships.
  • Collaborate on curriculum development and training.
  • Work with the Global Regional Centre of Expertise (RCE) network (acknowledged by the United Nations University) to share learning and good practice at regional, national and international levels.

I chaired the inaugural meeting of the group on the 8th June, where we had representatives from: Aberystwyth, Bangor, Cardiff, South Wales, Swansea, and Trinity Saint David universities. Dr Andy Rees, Head of Waste, Welsh Government, set the scene providing some useful statistics and outlining Welsh Government policy instruments for innovation in the circular economy.

It was a productive meeting, where we discussed ideas on how we could collaborate on research, teaching, knowledge transfer and informing government policy. When it came to research it was thought that that we shouldn’t just focus on circular economy specific calls for research funding – there are opportunities for circular economy to add novelty to a wide range of research areas. It was also highlighted that we need to look at how we improve communication of the circular economy to industry and public in order to encourage innovation and change. In particular, linking to competitiveness when communicating with industry is important, as well as focusing on sectors important to the Welsh economy.  The British Standard for Circular Economy, BS-8001, could provide a useful lever to engage with companies and existing academia-industry networks such as ASTUTE can provide an established route for knowledge transfer.

A core aim of the group is to encourage collaboration; this will initially be facilitated by providing a directory of expertise, so members can easily identify potential collaborators for research. In addition, we will also set up a regular email bulletin and a forum for members to discuss areas of interest. To keep a group such as this working needs good secretariat support, which Ann Stevenson from Cardiff University, has kindly offered to provide.

Moving forward, we will hold another meeting of the group in the autumn and will run sessions at the RCE Cymru Conference on the 8th November 2018, in Cardiff, where we hope to have some inspirational and productive discussions.
dr gavin.jpg

If you are interested in being part of the Group, or would like to find out more please contact Dr Gavin Bunting on g.t.m.bunting@swansea.ac.uk, 01792 602802.

 

 

 

 

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.

Faster closing – it’s good to talk

Following on from our recent event on ‘Early closure of local government accounts’, Matthew Coe, Financial Audit Manager at the Wales Audit Office, talks about his experience of the day and the important discussions he encountered with delegates…

On 10 October 2017 I attended the latest Good Practice Exchange shared learning seminar in Cardiff on the Early closure of local government accounts. Alongside many representatives from local authorities, there were a large number of staff from the Wales Audit Office, all keen to understand lessons from those already piloting faster closing timetables.

In the first plenary session there was a lot of audience participation with table groups considering a number of mini scenarios on how not to manage the accounts closure and audit processes. Even with some of the Wales Audit Office “actors” hamming it up for all they were worth, it was clear that everyone in the room recognised we need teamwork and regular communication to make a success of this transition.

As is usual at Good Practice Exchange events, we then broke into smaller workshop groups covering three particular aspects:

  • Making Assets Early Closure Friendly – ensuring the streamlining of asset valuations and capital accounting;
  • Knowing why we want what we want! – what is needed in terms of working paper requirements; and
  • The importance of Internal Quality Assurance on your Financial Statements – highlighting why internal quality assurance checks are critical to a successful audit.

These workshops looked at practical actions that we could take. It was particularly useful having a trained – tamed? – valuer present in the asset valuation workshop to explain his work and give his perspective on how to give valuations sooner.

The big learning points for me from these workshops were:

  1. Everyone agreed but more importantly accepted that there will be more estimates in the accounts.
  2. In addition it is likely there will be more uncorrected misstatements noted in the auditor’s reports (ISA260 reports) – BUT this is not necessarily a bad thing: a key message to relay to those charged with governance.
  3. You can actually do things earlier on non-current assets – it is not solely a year-end exercise after all – and together we just need to think creatively about it.
  4. Finally, auditors need to be clearer on working papers they need – not want, but actually need – and in what format with finance staff. On the flip side, finance staff also need to change the way they prepare and provide the working papers.

In the final plenary session I was struck most with just how long I had spent discussing the detailed arrangements with the finance staff from Cardiff Council. While we do cover this in our work as an audit team, as a Client Manager, I personally seldom get a chance to discuss the detailed approach to working papers with the finance team preparing them. For me, to have nearly four hours to go through the practicalities and challenges of changing both Council and Wales Audit Office approaches and ways of doing things, was incredibly valuable.

There and then we were able to agree a number of key principles such as early engagement on changes, quick resolutions to queries by both sides, and further meetings to improve supporting documentation for the 2017-18 accounts (meetings we have already starting arranging).

Also not only did I find that we agreed on the need to change both our approaches (and were positive about doing something about it for 2017-18) but I could communicate the collegiate way of working that sets the tone of our audit work first hand.

Finally I would say that communication really is the key – preferably by just talking to the right people face to face – so that you can talk around the implications of potential problems early on makes a big difference to how smooth an accounts/audit process can be. Early engagement on changes in accounting policies, methodologies and potential issues, as well as carrying out earlier testing, will certainly smooth the way to a faster closing Nirvana!

10 Steps School Project

Georgina James, Melin Homes

As I’m writing this, I’m sat at my desk working towards developing our offer for Melin’s schools program over the next 5 years, a schools program that didn’t exist 4 years ago.

Flashback to our energy efficiency project, Powering Up Communities and we’re just entering schools doing a little energy program training Junior Green Energy Champions. Our street naming competitions with schools were a success and we were offering our Melin minibus to schools for educational trips. Overtime, the work we were doing in schools developed, with the eco program helping schools to achieve their ECO flags with Keep Wales Tidy and the groups were creating energy saving songs to well known tunes and performing them at our events. I’d say our first step in our recognition of the importance of working with schools, was deciding to do an end of project celebration event with the children we had worked with. We worked with partners such as ICE, Keep Wales Tidy, Constructing Excellence in Wales and Techniquest to deliver a carousel of workshops with over 100 children and teachers attending. The event was a massive success and it was there that we thought “WOW! These young people we are working with are our future residents, staff members, and local councillors or supporters” We need to make sure that our work encompasses the young people of our communities and what better way to do it than through schools. Now our journey on schools wasn’t an over night success, it took months if not years, of developing projects and relationships with schools and partners.

One of our partnerships was with Career Wales, who we had done ad hoc ambassador work for previously.  They approached us to see if we would like a business partnership with 2 secondary schools that were situated within our area. We have now signed up to a 3 year business partnership with the two schools and are focusing on a three-pronged approach between the pupils, staff and parents, to ensure we make an impact and difference to the people we work with.

And the best part, Melin have committed to a delivery of a schools program for the next 5 years. Had Melin not had the idea to do the little bits in schools then we wouldn’t have progressed to the stage we’re at now. New projects focusing on the health and wellbeing of pupils and teachers. Which leads us to the 10 Steps project… If you want to know about where we are now and what we’ve got coming up then come along to Wales’ Audit Offices seminar on Using Alternative Delivery Models to deliver public services.