We want all projects we fund to embrace the some key themes. Under the Awards for All Northern Ireland programme the themes we want to focus on are:
- People led – this means the people you’ll be working with will be meaningfully involved in the development, design and delivery of your project.
- Strengths based – we’d like to support people and communities to build on the knowledge, skills, experience they already have to make the changes they want.
People led – The challenges of getting people involved
In this blog, Nigel Chambers (Policy and Learning Officer at Big Lottery Fund) explains a bit more about the people led approach.
In every organisation there’s always the usual group of people who are happy to tell you what they think and sit on steering committees. While it’s great to have this level of involvement, there is a risk that you’re missing out on the views of other people who use your project or the opinions of people who don’t usually take part in projects.
We know that people are busy – they have lives, families and jobs and might not have the time to get involved in the design, delivery or review of projects. However, getting people involved doesn’t have to be a serious time commitment on their part. Involvement can mean a broad range of things, from the day to day chats you have and the feedback forms you get from the people who use your project, to knocking on doors and carrying out surveys in your community.
However, not everyone enjoys filling out forms, or being asked directly, what they think about an issue or an idea. Some people might not be comfortable saying what they think in front of others. These are the kinds of barriers that can stop people from getting involved or contributing to your project.
We often find projects are most successful when they are creative in involving people and in thinking of ways to engage others who don’t usually take part in projects or give their views and opinions. Some projects told us how they’ve used art, sport, theatre or even food to get people’s views. When people are being creative they will often relax and tell you what they really think, so why not try throwing a barbeque or a picnic – people enjoy food and will tell you many things over a social bite to eat.
And remember, when we say people, we mean the people that take part in projects, their networks (such as family, friends, and carers) and the wider community your organisation works in.
There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach when it comes to involving people, what works for one project might not work for yours, so we’d like to know how your organisation meaningfully involves people in your projects.
Have a look at an example from a group we’ve funded that has put people in the lead in the development, design and delivery of their project.
Strengths based – What does building on strengths mean?
In this blog Cheryl Rainey, (Policy and Learning Advisor at Big Lottery Fund), explains a bit more about the strengths based approach.
As a funder, up until now, we have expected groups applying to us to tell us what is ‘missing’ or ‘wrong’ in their community. Many groups have done this using statistics highlighting levels of deprivation, health needs, unemployment and educational attainment in their area.
Our new strategic framework, People in the Lead, explains that we are now taking a strengths based approach, focusing instead on the skills, assets and energy that people can draw upon, rather than asking them to focus on what they don’t have.
Through this approach we will be encouraging communities, and the people in them, to think about the strengths they have, and how they can use them to tackle the challenges they face. For example:
- Do you have a group of volunteers; can you get more people involved in volunteering?
- Are there other groups in your area that you can work with; can you build a network to support each other and share resources?
- Do you have good local knowledge and experience; can you use this to make changes?
- Are there any issues in your community that people feel strongly about, such as litter or safer play for children? Can you use this to bring people together and get them involved in making positive changes?
Every person in a community matters, and every person has something to contribute. We all have something to offer including talents, abilities, relationships, skills, knowledge and even enthusiasm.
So instead of groups using money from us to try to ‘put right’ what is ‘wrong’, we want you to use it to build on the potential in communities.
This approach is about a community exploring what it is they care enough about that makes them want to work together to change, develop or sustain it. Given the right tools and opportunity, small groups of local people can change the things they believe need changing in their community better than anyone else.
Want to know what this means in practice? Take a look at an example from a group we’ve funded and read how they built on the strengths in their community.