Our usual monthly meeting of the SAND Action Group was replaced with an Away Day – a full day out at the very lovely Westhope College in South Shropshire. What a great idea to get out into the countryside and spend some quality time together.
We had 3 main aims for the day :
- to get to know each other better
- to share the connections that we have which may be useful to SAND’s future work
- to think about how we want to go about developing a promotions strategy
Two SAND Action Group members are trainers and facilitators in their day jobs and put together a plan for the day which would spur the group on whilst maintaining a focus on exploring and increasing its influence.
We chose a venue that was beautiful, very different from our usual space, in a different location, affordable and generally very lovely – we could not have chosen better and were very well looked after.
We started with some discussion about what SAND has achieved to date.
– and how being part of the SAND Action Group makes each of us feel. This was to encourage some reflection and consideration of the group working collectively – ‘we are a team’ was a lovely first response!
We then looked at who we know between us and came up with names, job titles and other information – some more or lesser in the fields of
- social care
- voluntary & community sector
- care homes
- local authorities
- trade unions
- and more ….
We will use this information to match to our action plan and identify our routes to influence – looking at how they complement each other. From there we will start contacting individuals with specific tailored messages.
We spent a bit of time pondering the ‘we treat everyone the same’ mantra that seems to come from all quarters when we raise any of these issues. We got into small groups and considered possible ways of countering this – for example using the ‘blocks’ image that we like (see right) and other useful images (see below). The ideas arising from this short piece of focused attention was really valuable. We realise that we could use facts to illustrate how people are not all the same: some are married, some have children, some live in cities, some have large families …. one of the groups used a physical activity to illustrate difference and we hope to work this up in the future; the third group thought about encouraging the respondent to reflect on what they are saying, for example ‘do you feed everyone the same?’ Also to illustrate our own fallibility and use an example of when we have got something wrong to help people manage their own feelings of instinctive defensiveness.
Our final exercises of the day were around the ways in which people/groups influence. We drew on research already undertaken on this theme and considered different ways to influence to provoke discussion and lead into our own examples:
1. Whispering – in the ears of influential people – private discussions which represent issues,
opinion and priorities through a more influential other.
2. Shouting – which could be about passion, bullying or frustration. It is not usually viewed as
an effective form of influence but it can reap rewards
3. Negotiating – this is about sitting around the right ‘table’ (where relevant discussions are
happening and decisions being made) at the right time, having all the information, skills and
organisation you need in order to be an equal.
4. Taking action – encouraging members to play active roles which are related to and which
highlight the issues.
5. Being part of a bigger network – joining with others, for example Neighbourhood Watch
benefits from an even wider network – it is part of national neighbourhood watch and
receives support, information and greater strength in numbers.
6. Shaming – drawing attention to poor decision making or embarrassing those who are not
listening or taking account of people’s views
Extract from Voice Resource Pack Part 2 – in the Axis of Influence series, changes 2009
From this we could see that SAND can usefully take different approaches depending on what we are wanting to achieve – and use appropriate methods of communicating those different messages, whether through social media, reports, press release etc.
Of course, we had to cover a bit of business during the day so we did that too! Our major focus at the moment is our 70’s Fundraising Disco and Auction which takes place on 29th November in Shrewsbury. We have just launched an Eventbrite Page for this as well as the ever-growing list of auction items on our website: Clare Balding; Heather Peace; Stephen Fry; Sandi Toksvig; Matt Lucas; Graham Norton have all donated items as has Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy; we have items donated by local artists Lee Lewis and Dea Paradisos; event tickets from the Shrewsbury Folk Festival and L Fest; a boat trip, a ride in a vintage car, a weekend break, a champagne hamper, original vinyl, DVDs ……
This Blog records what is happening at which point of SAND’s development.