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Stronger Together

Collaboration

I went along to the Friends of George V Recreation Ground committee meeting last Tuesday.

Good turnout:
• The woman who started the group off (a park user with passion and the desire to make it more accessible and user friendly) and someone who had helped her previously (with knowledge of banking)
• Three new volunteers including me – one who’s retired from a finance job, the other a local resident who litter picks while she walks her dog
• Four local GBC councillors – all with years of experience, one with more specific knowledge of other ‘Friends of’ groups and the other with financial knowledge
• The leader of the Friends of Valley Road park

The meeting wasn’t as well facilitated as the Carlton Hill Community Action Group committee and there were no minutes afterwards but:
• feelings were aired
• information was shared
• decisions were made
• and actions were agreed – a couple of which have already been implemented

There had obviously been some falling out with the CHCAG and the leader of this group was feeling aggrieved; swamped with family life and work; and at the end of her tether and ready to leave it all. But she didn’t; and at the end of the meeting she looked considerably happier than at the start and realised that she now has a team of supportive people behind and beside her.

So what enabled this?
• The leader aired her feelings and the rest of the group listened but then didn’t let this dominate the meeting.
• One of the councillors had brought along the leader of the Friends of Valley Road committee who was a very sensible, non-emotional and pragmatic woman who shared what they had done ie
o got the group constituted (shared their template with us)
o set up bank account – advised which one and the steps to make this happen
o got Groundwork involved in planning what to do with the land
o applying for funding – which fund they’re going for, timescales and who to talk to at Gedling Borough Council (Jane Richardson) to help on this

• One of the councillors – who is on other ‘Friends of’ groups – committed to connecting with Jane Richardson (who she knows and has worked with) and getting her involved with this group
• One of the other councillors said she could help out with any banking issues and will bring RBS forms to the next meeting
• The other committed to giving some money to the group

• The leader then said that the group has some money which will need to be spent on playground equipment by November. She knew what she’d like but didn’t have the time to arrange for the supplier to visit the playground for measurements/price discussion etc
• One of the new volunteers then said that she could make the phone call and I elicited available dates, sharing of phone numbers, agreement as to what equipment to go for to help turn the offer into a workable solution. This phone call has now been made and a meeting set up. The leader is beyond happy that someone has committed to helping her – such a small thing which has had a HUGE impact.

I then facilitated us agreeing our actions:
• Valley Road group sending constitution doc to George V leader and she and her colleague drafting the doc to present at our next meeting
• When this has been done – the group to then apply for a bank account – using the docs that the councillor will bring along to the meeting
• Phone call to be made to arrange the equipment meeting
• We would then look at what the groups wants to do with the recreation ground and what sort of funding to go for – a couple of possible organisations were mentioned and I said that I could help connect them into those.
• Mention was also made of having a noticeboard and one of the councillors said that she would keep her ear to the ground if there were any existing ones that weren’t being use and I said I could link them into Men in Sheds to see if they could either make one or do up an existing one.
• We also discussed group admin – we shared email addresses and the leader is going to review and update her current email group addresses
• And a WhatsApp group was suggested and the leader set one up that evening which is already being populated with positive messages.

So, a lovely example of how combing people’s ‘superpowers’ can lead to effective outcomes. Connections, partnership working, facilitation/keeping the meeting going, supporting the leader. Everyone participating, everyone has a job to do so all invested. Sense of belonging. And hope – that things are moving forward, positively and

Stronger Together….