Gallery Youth is an independent provider of activities and services for young people living in Alnwick and the surrounding area. It is a registered charity, established in 1996 and in April 2010 was successful in securing a five year funding package from the National Lottery Reaching Communities funding programme. This bid enabled Gallery Youth to hold a review with young people and partner organisations with a focus on how to deliver a programme of sustainable youth work into the future.
“Mandy was recommended to Gallery Youth to facilitate a project review from a colleague in the VCS sector of Northumberland in June 2010. Gallery Youth had secured a five year funding bid and needed to develop a development plan that included outcomes of the bid, as well as future plans for Gallery Youth. On meeting Mandy she was very conscious that we needed to be clear on what we wanted from the review and gave some very useful pointers which made us think and focus about what we were trying to achieve.” Ian McRea, Project Manager
Initially I worked with the manager to identify some clear objectives which included developing a shared vision and clarity around the values of the organisation and its stakeholders, then identifying the key activities and delivery options for the next three to five years.
“She set time aside where we could focus and plan the review days well in advance, be aware of who should attend and why they should attend. These preparation meetings proved to be very valuable in ensuring we set out to achieve our aim.” Ian
This was an interesting mix of operational and strategic objectives, involving a wide range of stakeholders and we agreed to hold four distinct sessions over two days. Working with staff and trustees, the main focus of Day One was exploring and agreeing the future vision for the organisation and its work. The information from this day was then used to inform Day Two.
Representatives from other agencies came along for the afternoon session and we started with presentations on the Gallery Youth and its future plans, including a short audio clip produced during the morning session on why Gallery Youth is important. The agenda for the rest of the afternoon was deliberately left quite open. This was in order to provide the opportunity for full participation in taking the discussion forward.
“Over the review process Mandy was very organised, focused and well planned, yet she also provided the opportunity for people to ‘take things where they needed to’ to allow all voices and opinions to be heard.” Ian
Starting with the question ‘How are we going to make the best use of this time we have together?’ participants started to explore what a model of good practice for partnership working looked like and also what the purpose of working in this way would be. Finally the group considered what how to ensure partnership working is effective and they sought agreement on how to take this forward into the future.
Feedback from the two days was positive including comments like “Very enjoyable day, delivered very well, gave me insight of our future goals and objectives.” And “A positive response, everyone wanted to work together, a good event!”.
“In all Mandy is very approachable. She listens to what you want to get out of teambuilding and reviews and can adapt a programme that is tailored to meet those needs. She is an excellent group facilitator and communicator, has a sound understanding of community groups and organisations and how they work. She is flexible in her approach and has an excellent interpersonal skill which enables her to facilitate to a very high standard.” Ian McRae, Project Manager, Gallery Youth
When working with an organisation or a team over a period of time a different type of relationship develops. The role of external facilitator continues, however increased understanding of the organisation and the building of relationships allows the opportunity to provide additional support and to maintain momentum toward agreed actions. This might involve additional training, mentoring, individual coaching, signposting or simply being “a listening ear on the end of a phone”.
Newcastle Toy and Leisure Library (NTLL), which supports families that care for a child or young person with a disability, is one of the organisations I have developed such a relationship with. Over recent years it has grown, extending its leisure opportunities, activities and support. This has involved a number of changes as organisational capacity has been built to ensure sustainability and the delivery of high quality activities.
In addition to facilitating organisational development days, I have worked with the trustees and organiser to consider new approaches to governance, supporting them to develop their approach to business planning.
The development days involving staff, volunteers and trustees have been a mix of team building, operational reviews and strategic planning. The programme is designed to engage all those involved whilst meeting the agreed objectives. In addition these events are more productive when they sit comfortably with the culture of the organisation, with activities designed to enable everyone to contribute and to share different perspectives. With NTLL this has resulted in a range of interactive, interesting and creative activities!
Feedback from these includes:
Here’s what Christine Graham, Charity Organiser has to say:
“Newcastle toy & Leisure Library has worked with Mandy on our away days for the past five years and she is a great coach with excellent communication and mentoring skill. She motivates the committee, volunteers and staff to achieve positive results. She also has a great insight into what will work best for Newcastle Toy & Leisure Library. Her work is consistent and reliable and I have always found her to be loyal, interested, trusted and most important an immense support to Newcastle Toy & Leisure Library.”