Can asset-based approaches deliver better health and wellbeing?

The Animate partners are strong advocates of an asset-based approach, where the focus is on the strengths and potential in people and communities, rather than their deficiencies. Here our partner Jo Kennedy tells us about an 18 month research programme she has been involved in looking at how such an asset-based approach can support community health and wellbeing:

Today (19 November 2015) sees the launch of a report which is the culmination of 18 months research into asset-based approaches in four separate Scottish communities.

‘Positive conversations, meaningful change: learning from Animating Assets’ documents the findings of a collaborative research project, performed by a team including the Scottish Community Development Centre, Glasgow Centre for Population Health, Research for Real and Animate.

Sponsored by the Scottish Government and local statutory funders, the Animating Assets programme was, at its heart, a process of engagement, facilitation, co-creation and learning. Using this approach we supported communities to develop asset-based approaches to a range of health and social wellbeing issues.

Ultimately we wanted to know whether an alternative approach to the deficit model, which sees more services as the answer to deficits, could affect real change to existing health and wellbeing systems and processes. And could it, as a consequence, deliver tangible and sustainable improvement and outcomes?

You can find out in the ‘Positive conversations, meaningful change: learning from Animating Assets’ report.

Developing your leadership in complex times

Our partner Jo Kennedy is the Conference Director for The Bayswater Institute’s working conference ‘Leading in Complex Times’ which will be held in West Sussex on 25th – 29th January 2016. Here she outlines why the conference is just as important for today’s leaders as it was for those who have attended over its 50-year history.

Animate’s work with leaders in Scotland and across the world has taught us that you live in uncertain and challenging, but potentially stimulating, times. Hierarchies are flatter, communication is increasingly virtual and collaboration is essential in the highly competitive environments you inhabit. These trends are true everywhere – in business, industry, government and in the not for profit sector.

It’s really important that you take the time to reflect, learn and adapt and to make sense of the sometimes irrational behaviour you see around you. Only by doing so can you deliver the greatest value from your organisation’s key, but increasingly scarce, resource: its people.

This working conference is an opportunity to develop your leadership skills and your understanding of your organisation in an intensive programme. You’ll do so in the presence of skilled staff and peers from across the world who will offer a range of perspectives, insights and challenges.

The Bayswater Institute Working Conference will challenge you, as it has challenged hundreds of leaders in its 50-year history. It will require you to ‘work below the surface’ examining your motivations and your behaviour in groups, perhaps in more depth than you have before.

At times, it may feel confusing and overwhelming: like the real world. The reward will be greater insight into yourself and those you lead – and a renewed sense of courage, resilience and focus in your leadership.

You can download the programme brochure below, or find out more on the Bayswater Institute’s website.


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I spoke, I listened and I learned

Animate partner Richard Hamer was invited to perform the plenary speech at the Institute of Fundraising (IoF) Scotland’s Scottish Conference 2015 on 6th October. Here he reflects on the day.

Standing up in front of 300 people to speak for 45 minutes is always a vaguely terrifying idea. But when you’re speaking on a subject you lived and breathed for a month, and that you feel pretty passionate about, it’s easier. When you’ve got an audience who are equally passionate, well that’s when you can enjoy yourself.

Which is what I did at the IoF Scotland’s Scottish Conference today. Having had the privilege of researching and writing the Scottish review of fundraising regulation on SCVO’s behalf, I was longing to encourage further debate about our findings as well those contained in Sir Stuart Etherington’s companion review.

What I also got was a chance to hear some really smart thinking on the issues from an incredibly wide range of people. We didn’t need to agree with each other’s opinions; having the chance to debate them developed my thinking on the way forward for charities and fundraisers, and hopefully did the same for others.

So what did I learn?

  • That Scottish charities can’t afford to sleepwalk into a future fundraising regulatory system. And that a hybrid option, that fuses the best of the proposed UK regulatory system and the needs of the Scottish third sector may not be a compromise option, or the ‘devo-mess’ option I labelled it. Let’s hope the fundraising summit Martin Sime from SCVO announced, which is planned for late November, benefits from the same positive energy I felt at the fundraising conference.
  • That those outside of the third sector have important contributions to make. It was great to hear David Robb and Jude Turbyne of OSCR both supportive and challenging of the sector, and its need to reinvigorate its regulation. What was less expected was the insight gained from suppliers to the fundraising sector exhibiting at the conference.  Paula Lucey from Rapidata and Dominic Ellis of Harlequin Software were both remarkably knowledgeable and keen to debate the issue. There may yet be a Fifa for fundraising Dominic….
  • And finally, that change is paralysing charities in two ways: firstly by draining people’s energy and enthusiasm, and secondly, by obstructing their work as processes and systems change around them. So fundraisers, who can rightly feel somewhat persecuted at present, find themselves, as one described it, ‘trying to fundraise with their hands tied’ as their charities race to change systems and processes to avoid risk. But without a clarity of what changes are really needed.

What struck me was the sense of purpose, and determination, fundraisers had despite – or maybe because of – the quite extraordinary events of the past 5 months. All the data shows that donors still want to give. Fundraisers, and the charities that benefit from their skills and drive, therefore need to give them some meaningful reassurance and reward their confidence in what is, by no means, a fundamentally broken system. In my humble opinion, obviously.

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What next for fundraising in Scotland?

The combination of reducing public funding and increasing demand for services has required charities to develop a wider variety of income streams. Whilst this response has been good for beneficiaries, there has been concern over the fundraising methods used by some charities.

Animate partner Richard Hamer was delighted to be asked to perform a review of fundraising for the Scottish Government on behalf of SCVO. The report was released on 23 September, alongside the Etherington review requested by the UK Government. You can download the Scottish review below:

SCVO – The effectiveness of the self-regulation of fundraising in Scotland

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Gaining REAL insight on risk

What do you get when you mix personalised health and social care, a collaborative enquiry approach and practitioners from across the Lothians? The answer is the REAL programme, looking at a ‘Risk Enablement Approach in the Lothians’.

Fears that risk-aversion was frustrating the move towards more personalised services led to a small steering group from the NHS, local authorities and the third sector establishing the REAL programme. Loosely based on a collaborative enquiry approach, the team developed and delivered three well received events investigating risk enablement in late 2014 and early 2015.

Animate partner Richard Hamer was embedded in the programme’s steering group as they developed their approach and held the events. Our evaluation of the success of the REAL approach, and a guide for those wishing to repeat it in their area, are available below:

Animate Consulting – evaluation of the REAL programme – June 2015

Animate Consulting – REAL Facilitators Guide

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A big, bold, boisterous conversation about recovering hope

The publication, 3 months on, of the learning from the Scottish Recovery Consortium and Workforce Scotland’s ‘big, bold, boisterous conversation about recovering hope’ reminded Animate partner Jo Kennedy of how much she’d enjoyed the event.

Held back in March 2015 at Edinburgh’s Out of the Blue arts venue, the event brought together ordinary people, policy makers and practitioners. 117 people attended from 59 separate organisations including the Scottish Prison Service, Police Scotland, the Scottish Government and local government, the NHS and Health Scotland, voluntary organisations, social enterprise, business, academia, community development, community activists and spiritual organisations.

The aim was investigate recovering hope using the metaphor of recovery, and to plan what we need to do to make our services more responsive and more humane. The event was based on the World Café approach – an Animate favourite.

You can read more about the conversation on the Scottish Recovery Consortium website.

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