January 2015 Big Local (NEH) Meeting - where we engage with the process'

Happy New Year and welcome back to work for those of you lucky enough to have a good break. Straight back in to business for us at the North East Hastings Big Local where we had our first partnership meeting this week. We agreed on two new Vice Chair’s for the Partnership Board – congratulations and welcome to your new roles’ Suzy and Gary. Clare Power offered to act as our Treasurer for an initial 6 month period – thanks Clare. All three are local residents. We then received two reports on children and young people.

The first commissioned report was on play provision in the area, spaces and satisfaction with provision for children under five – nurseries and playgroups plus opportunities for young people after school and at the weekends. The group supported this report and were keen to start the next steps. Key parts included how to better support the Adventure Playground to open more often, and support more young people, how to improve and develop our playgrounds, and how to work with nurseries to get them to a shared goal of ‘outstanding’. The second report was a proposal to undertake a piece of research to see how ‘the arts’ – which includes music, creativity, film making and all arts could help children under five in their readiness for school.

How we undertake this work, how much finance is available for this, and how much of a priority to give to developing this as a pilot scheme in North East Hastings was subject to much discussion. The group agreed in principle to support some research, with further exploration necessary. Now there is a management, or depending on your perspective community development theory about how groups come together to work successfully. It’s called the Tuckman’s theory (developed in 1965 but still relevant). The theory is that for a group to learn to work well together it needs to follow the phases of forming, storming, norming and performing. During the forming phase (apologies if you know this, skip a few sentences along), a group, often comprised of people from many different backgrounds who don’t know each other, start to work together and make friends. This is where the Big Local Partnership Board has been for a while whilst developing our objectives and during the first year.

The second phase of group development is called storming, this as it sounds, is where ways of working and different views might be challenged. The NEH Big Local is made up of individuals from all walks of life – different work backgrounds, political beliefs, ways of working, personalities, truly a really diverse bunch whose main common ground is they care about North East Hastings and want to make it a better place to live and work (here I might add bringing all these skilled and knowledgeable individuals together is what should make the team work in a truly effective way). However, like any team getting to know its’ roles, engaging with how we are going to work and what our process’ are means we’re going to hit the storming phase. In Tuckman’s theory the resolution of the storming phase is in coming in to acceptance of difference, which leads me on to the norming phase of development nicely.

In the norming phase of development, the group will come to develop its own norms of behaviour, there will be an accepted way of working. The group should start to resolve differences and work together. Of course, as new tasks come up the group may well head back to a little storming as they resolve these new tasks.

The final phase is that of performing, this is when a group, without problems achieves its objectives. Structures and process’ will be in place that support the group to work well. At this stage the group should be working well on its own accord. Working across boundaries, across difference is a challenge and it should be – we’re all learning to adapt to our roles within the group, and the group is as a whole needing to learn and develop. We’ll all need support to both develop new skills and to blend our skills. Which, after all is one of the aims of the Big Local – to get to a point where local people are skilled at identifying issues in their local areas, and working to achieve a resolution in those issues.

A final point here, is that I would absolutely welcome comments on my blog, but currently the technology is not enabling this to happen unless you are signed in to the website. Feel free to sign in or do contact us via the big local email if you would like to add any comments on blog posts, or our work in general. And of course, we’re working on the technology issues.

Best wishes


Blog Post 3 14 January 2015