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Network

Setting up Partnerships

Sometimes it is good to work in partnerships with other people or organisations. But it can be hard to find a fair balance between the people and organisations involved. We have worked with groups where it helped to have someone fresh and independent to help move the partnership along.

  • We can work with one group, to help you work out what you need to protect your values and what you want to achieve as you talk to another group about a partnership. This might be because the other group is bigger or more experienced at this sort of thing than you are.
  • We can work with several groups as they come together.
  • We can work with a big organisation – such as a local authority, part of the NHS or a larger voluntary organisation – when you are beginning to work in partnership with a group of people who use your services or with smaller community groups.

Getting a network started

Sometimes it is useful to work in a network with other people. A network is a good source of information and advice once it is underway. But getting it started can feel like hard work when it is happening on top of everything else you have to do.

  • We can help you work out what this network is going to do, and who you want to be part of it.
  • We can help with the practical side, like getting the initial invitations out, or arranging and facilitating the first events.
  • We can help you work out what will be needed for your network to get established.

Co-ordinating or hosting networks

You have decided you want to have a network. But now someone has to host it – be the contact point and send the information out to the members. Often there will be a person or organisation who will take this on. But sometimes it is better for none of the existing members to do this, or at least not yet.

  • We can be the host for a network – provide the contact address and some administrative support.
  • We can help the network apply for funding to get started.
  • We can organise workshops or other events on behalf of the network.

Keeping a group or network going when things get bumpy

Sometimes people put a lot of effort into getting an idea going – a new organisation, a project or a different way of working with other people. Once it is underway you relax. Then things get a bit bumpy: some of the people who were there at the beginning leave or circumstances change. Sometimes it is useful to have someone who can help you see the aspects that are still working fine, what needs updating or changed, and how to get things back on track.

  • We can do a review with you of how the project is going now and what is needed for the next phase.
  • We can help you identify options for the next stage – whether keeping it steady or planning new developments.
  • We can help you check out the ideas and plans with the various people involved – the people who use your service, your partners and the bodies which provide funding – so you know what their ideas and views are.
  • We can help you work out how you can explain changes to people, especially when they still want everything to be the way it was (or the way they think it was).
Reports & Toolkits

Writing Reports

We know how it feels. You have a great pile of information and (sort of) know what you want to say. But getting it down on paper seems an overwhelming task. And you don’t have the time to do it. And the deadline is getting closer, or people are asking where the report is…

Sometimes it is easier for someone else to take the material and write the report for you. It probably won’t be perfect first time, but now you have something to work with, and it is easier to give comments to someone else than try to re-do it yourself.

  • We can write reports for you.
  • We can write different versions for different audiences: for example, the long one with the references and tables for the people who need that, and the short bright version for the people who want the main points.
  • We can work in pictures, photographs and creative writing, so it isn’t just a report like everyone else’s, if this what you want.
  • We can bring in people who are experienced in making DVDs and other creative ways of working.

Producing Toolkits and Practical Resources

You have an idea about producing something that will be a practical help for the people you know, such as a list of useful contacts or training materials, or an easy to use description of policies. But you aren’t too sure about how to get started.

  • We can help you work out what you want your resource to be – who it is for and how they will use it.
  • We can gather the information and put it together.
  • We can work with you or some of the people you know, so it is your toolkit or resource pack.
  • We can help you work out the practical aspects of how people will know about it and get hold of it, so as many people as possible can use it and benefit.

Evaluations

Sooner or later every project needs an evaluation. The people involved want to look back and see what they have achieved. The trustees or managers need to know how things are going to help them plan for the future. The funders need to know that their contribution is having the impact they expected.

  • We can help you plan and do the evaluation. We can show people in your group or project how to do this sort of thing, so they will have the confidence and skills for next time.
  • We can work with a team of people from the project – so you get the benefits both of the evaluation by someone independent and members of your project learning new skills.
  • We can do all the work around the evaluation – gathering the information, making the assessment and writing the report – where that is the right approach for your circumstances. But we will do that in a way that makes the people at the project or service know what is happening and feel that they are involved in the evaluation.
  • We will use whatever methods are right for you – make the process fun even though the content is serious and make sure everyone can be included.
  • We will help you work out how you will follow up the evaluation – start the next stage of the change process.

The one thing we will not do is carry out the evaluation, give you the report and walk away.

Community

Gathering Members or Other People’s Views

There are lots of occasions when you might want to find out what other people think about your service or project, or about an idea. Or you might be looking for ideas – what they want the service to do, or what they would like to see in the future for this area.

Sometimes you could do it yourself, but you don’t have the time. And sometimes it is better if it is someone else who asks some different questions and helps people to think differently.

  • We can help you plan out what you want to ask people about – what are the best ways of doing this in your circumstances?
  • We will also help you look again what you already know – since people often et fed up repeating he same things
  • We can facilitate group sessions or events, talk to people individually – whatever works for your situation.
  • We can do it in a way that draws in members of your group – sharing the tasks, or helping them learn new skills and confidence so you have the option of doing more yourselves next time.
  • We will help you feed back to people.
  • We will help you work out what to do with the information you have gathered – the next stage in the process of listening to and engaging with people.

Telling people about what you have achieved

You are fabulous! You have worked so hard through all sorts of difficulties, and have achieved great things – even if they weren’t all the ones you set out to do. Now you want to tell people what you have done and what difference you have made.

  • We can help you work out who you want to reach, and how to reach different people.
  • We can help you present your achievements in a way that feels right for you – so it is your voice and not someone else’s.
  • We can include information about the projects we work with in the updates we send to a wide range of people, so they can contact you direct.

Learning Together

We provide training for members of community groups and for people who work as paid or volunteer workers.

  • The training builds on the expenses of people living and working in these circumstances as well as on the strategies and good practice.
  • We design the training around what you need.
  • We go at the pace that is right for you and take account of the time that you have available.
  • We make the structured training part of the whole learning for people – so link it in to the others ways people.
  • We make the training participative and where possible give people opportunities to develop skills – for example by being co-facilitators or giving presentations as part of the training.
  • We develop written materials that you can distribute as handouts or electronically. This is to enable more people to be part of the learning – people at the training have a resource to refer to later and colleagues can use them too.
  • If some of the people taking part need some extra support for themselves, we will discuss with you how we can build this in to the plan for the training.
Certified Living Wage

Outside the Box is a certified living wage employer