Published on June 30, 2016

Calling anyone with facilitation skills

By Simon Burall

Simon Burall is a Senior Associate of Involve. He has extensive experience in the fields of democratic reform, governance, public participation, stakeholder engagement, and accountability and transparency.

Mirror fragmentsWe’ve just sent this email to people in our network who have facilitation skills and experience. But we’re aware our networks could be more complete. If you know anyone who might be interested, please do let them know. 

Dear friends and colleagues

I’m writing to you as someone in our network who we think might have facilitation, community development, conflict resolution or digital engagement skills that could be relevant to the situation the country finds itself in post-referendum.

Are you interested in coming to a gathering of like-minded people to explore the best way to deploy our particular tools and skills in the aftermath of the referendum?

If you are then we’re collecting a bit of information in this form to help us to plan it effectively. We need to get an idea of numbers quickly so please could you complete the form by end of day Thursday 7th July.

If you think that someone else in your network with relevant skills and experience might be interested, please do forward this email. However, we’re keen to keep it focused so please don’t do a mass mailing unless to a particular community of practitioners with relevant skills. 

It is really important to note that everyone at Involve holds their own opinions about what they would like to see happen next. However, this proposed gathering is not intended as a planning meeting to explore how to get the ‘right answer’. 

If you’re interested in strategising for a particular side, or hoping to meet likeminded campaigners to develop a plan of action, this is not the gathering for you. Let us know if this is what you are looking for and we will do our best to point you towards groups we know and respect.

From Involve’s perspective it is important to be up front about this, because the framing of the debate running up to the vote, and even more starkly afterwards, has been divisive. It has been framed around only our membership of the EU. This is only one aspect of the underlying issues. As a result, it has left the country with no clear idea of which direction to take as we renegotiate our relationship with the rest of Europe and the world. I’ve expanded these thoughts a little in this blog post.

I hope I am not presumptuous in saying that I think that one of our collective core activities sees us reframing issues, providing tools and facilitators who can help people find a different route into – and potentially out of – challenging and divisive debates. But right now it is hard (for me at least) to see how to make purchase within the debate in a way that can help to reframe it at any sense of scale that makes sense.

This email aims to find out if there is sufficient interest within our networks to come together to explore how we might work more effectively to help make the debate more productive and less incendiary. 

So, if you’re still interested in attending a day long workshop focused around ways we might work collectively together on the challenges thrown up by the referendum can you let us know by completing this form?

Please complete the form by Thursday 7th July. This is to give us an indication of numbers and allow us to book venue etc. We will give priority to people who complete the form before the deadline, but will try to accommodate late responders too.

Specifically, we have two purposes for the workshop:

  • To explore the different ways that we might work together to make the post-referendum debate more productive; and
  • To provide a space for people with facilitation and engagement skills* to learn more about each other and spark productive partnerships.

*hopefully from both sides of the debate.

We are not aiming for consensus, or a grand idea to come out of this (though both might). Instead our more modest aim is to surface energy and ideas that different groups of us might gravitate around. Given this, our aim is to set the day up as an open space, though we reserve the right to change our minds once we know who wants to join us and what they want to get out of it.

We’re aiming to hold it outside London because the focus of power in the south East seems to us to be part of the problem and it’s one way of doing a small something to counter this. However, we will reconsider this if you (collectively) tell us strongly otherwise. We’d like to know what dates are best for you and what you’d like to get out of such a meeting. Though we make no promises to meet any, or even some of your needs.

We’re a small charity with very limited reserves (aren’t we all), so we are also interested in any resources – financial or otherwise – that you might be able to bring, but this is not a precondition to attending. However, we won’t be able to provide any financial assistance and will will ask you to bring your own lunch, though we will provide tea and coffee.

Once we’ve had a bit more time, we’ll probably set-up an online space for people to start discussing different ideas before we meet. You are also very welcome to write a post for our blog – or cross-post from somewhere else – if you want to get a little extra reach.

Any suggestions welcome and we’ll try to respond as quickly as we can. However, we are also keeping the show on the road and continuing to deliver our existing projects, so all this is currently happening in the spaces between our other work. 

We really hope you think this is a good idea and are keen to join us, but totally understand that you will have your own ideas and work to deliver.

Best

Simon 

Picture credit: andosan

35 Responses to “Calling anyone with facilitation skills”

  1. Tim Ebdy
    July 1, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    Hello Simon,

    It is great to here of your positive response.
    The referendum debate inspired me to publish a similar post on linkedin last Friday.

    18months ago I had the pleasure to attend the group facilitation workshop run by Martin Gilbraith. Since then I attended another workshop run by Martin Thompson of Mta Learning.

    Although I would love to be involved in this initiative I have not yet developed my facilitation skills.

    However the referendum debate and world events has strengthened my resolve to develop these skills.

    I am now in process of reviewing what I learned in both these workshops and preparing a series of facilitated CPD sessions in team skills that I will offer free to the education sector.

    This will be the start of my contribution and hopefully the start of my journey into facilitation.

    Best Wishes
    Tim

    • Simon Burall
      Simon Burall
      July 1, 2016 at 12:41 pm

      Thank you Tim,

      I don’t think that anyone has the answers. The best we can do is show leadership based on the skills, experiences, networks and knowledge we have; but in the full acknowledgement that we all have much more to learn. Whether or not you feel you have something to offer in this workshop, do fill in the form even if it is to let us know that you are looking for training. If enough people are do want training we will explore how we might offer that in a helpful way.

      best
      Simon

  2. July 2, 2016 at 8:38 am

    Hi
    My take on the present situation is that
    1. MPs in every constituency must be involved in what is described below.
    2. Our democratic process is not broken, nor is our economy.
    3. Influential individuals have shown themselves to be unworthy of our trust.
    4. We must heal the rifts in society by collectively recognising the pain in regions that have lacked investment for decades.
    5. In practical terms, people need to be heard, to tell their stories and have their hardship / anxieties recognised.
    6. We need to show solidarity/ understanding / respect / tolerance for each other especially when we feel we cannot or worse still should not do this. This situation requires a human response not an intellectual response.
    7. We have the capacity through our amazing traditions of story writing, film-making, music-making, drama, dance and visual arts to come together to draw the pain from the tensions and ultimately to celebrate our diversity.
    8. We can learn from and grow stronger from this if we step up quickly before the sore festers.
    Kind regards,
    Marion

    • Simon Burall
      Simon Burall
      July 2, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Marion

      thank you. I agree about the need to involve MPs, but only if they are willing to work collaboratively and reach out to all sides on the debate. If they aren’t then I’m not sure that our tools are much use.

      I’m less certain about our democracy, it has some very strong elements to it, but it needed reform before this given how many people feel their voices aren’t being heard.

      I am also inspired by your point about using the arts, we must harness this. The type of facilitation I normally do is much more rational than I would like it to be, I want to find ways to tap into emotions in order to unlock deeper conversations and am looking forward to learning more.

      best
      Simon

    • July 5, 2016 at 5:11 pm

      Marion, this makes a lot of sense to me. We’re watching closely from over here in Toronto, and have had the pleasure of connecting with Simon and the Involve team in a conference here two years ago. It’s excellent to see Involve taking a lead on the discussion.

  3. July 2, 2016 at 9:10 am

    Hi Simon
    I am a trained coach and facilitator. I have also trained in Art of Hosting methods but not had much opportunity to put them into practice.
    I would love to help with this. I live in Wilmslow in Cheshire.
    I was thinking of running some free dialogue sessions with local coaches and facilitators but it sounds as if you are more organised and it would be good to be part of this. I feel very strongly now that we have to help people get beyond the Brexit labels and start to identify what they stand for and how much common ground they share with others regardless of what they voted in the referendum.
    I voted remain and am passionate about collaboration but I am even more passionate about finding a shared future .
    Best
    Sue

    • Simon Burall
      Simon Burall
      July 2, 2016 at 9:36 am

      Thanks Sue, that sounds great. Hopefully the weight of opinion about location will find us and the workshop close enough to you that you can come along. I think one of the responses could be offering training in communities, and ideas about how to use it. Hope to meet you soon.

      Simon

      • July 13, 2016 at 8:55 am

        Hi Simon
        Did I fill the requisite form in? What are the details for the workshop on 22nd?
        Best
        Sue

        • Simon Burall
          Simon Burall
          July 13, 2016 at 9:23 am

          Sue

          Thanks for the comment. I’m not sure off hand if you filled in the form, we’ll check. We’re hoping to send out details about the event today.

          Best
          Simon

  4. July 3, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    I am a trained facilitator and passionate about community involvement in the discussions about future in the post Brexit environment. Particularly keen on engaging those who are seldom reached.

    • Simon Burall
      Simon Burall
      July 4, 2016 at 10:49 am

      Thanks Rekha, good to hear from you and hope to meet you soon.

      Simon

  5. July 4, 2016 at 10:53 am

    Hi Simon,
    I am a graphic recorder, when you’ve decided on a date/venue let me know what you have planned and if you can use my skills. I’m usually the ‘silent partner’ to the facilitator and draw out themes and ideas visually, plenty more examples on my website. If I can make the date you choose I would be very happy to get involved.
    Best wishes,
    Sandra

    • Simon Burall
      Simon Burall
      July 4, 2016 at 11:01 am

      Thank you Sandra,

      Did you fill in the form linked to in the email/ this blog post? If you did then it’s the best way of making sure that we can let you know what’s happening. The date is 22nd July.

      best
      Simon

      • July 4, 2016 at 1:46 pm

        Sorry Simon, I’m not available on the 22nd July. I found out about it through Martin Gilbraith’s ‘meetup group’ but hadn’t seen a date. Please get in touch if you need a graphic facilitator for a follow up event – I am based in greater London.
        Best wishes,
        Sandra

        • Simon Burall
          Simon Burall
          July 6, 2016 at 8:40 am

          Sorry you can’t make it Sandra. Can I just check you’ve completed the form anyway? That way we have your details and can make sure that you hear about any next steps.

          best
          Simon

  6. Debbie Warrener
    July 4, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Hi Simon,

    I believe we know each other from many years back! Great initiative – thanks!!!

    This absolutely chimes with my thoughts on how I wish to engage and bring my skills and experience as a trained and experienced leadership facilitator and coach particularly to those disadvantaged communities who have been left out in recent years. Part of the work I do is around honouring more difficult emotions and shadow in a safe space. While I am fully aware that bringing such work to marginalised communities is not in any way necessarily ‘easy’ or ‘simple’ my strong feeling is to offer this as I can so I am very grateful for this initiative and I look forward to getting involved and to seeing – and sensing into – what is wanting to emerge here.

    Thanks and all the best,

    Debbie

    • Adam
      July 4, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      Interesting to read what you’ve written Debbie, and thanks Simon for pulling this together.

      I’ve been involved for over 4 years in an initiative (Sustaining Resistance) which sounds like it may overlap with some of what you’re talking about, aimed to address burn-out and the causes of it, drawing on various approaches, aimed particularly at people active at the grassroots, and also to offer those people a safer space to explore whatever emotions are going on for them.

      I’m also interested in what could be applied to whatever we end up coming up with (though I’m unfortunately not able to make 22nd July) from Process Work/World Work approaches which I’ve been involved with as a facilitator and trainer, and how we can anchor our work in the Community Development values, which I’m a fan of (as a CD worker etc).

      All the best in these dark times, Adam

    • Simon Burall
      Simon Burall
      July 6, 2016 at 8:39 am

      Hi Debbie, it’s been a very long time!

      I assume you’ve filled in the form? It’ll be the best way for us to make sure you hear about the next steps. Hoping we have a chance to meet again soon!

      best
      Simon

  7. Mary Hughes
    July 6, 2016 at 7:40 am

    Hello

    Yes, I am interested and for many of the purposes and reasons already expressed. I am based near Pontypridd in The South Welsh Valleys, one of the areas that has had most financial benefit from the EU, low migration levels and whose citizens are of considerable migrant ancestry yet who voted to leave. I am a coach, a coaching supervisor and facilitator and for democracy’s sake would like to be involved.

    • Simon Burall
      Simon Burall
      July 6, 2016 at 8:38 am

      Thanks Mary, glad you’re interested. Can I just check that you’ve completed the form. It’s going to be the best way to ensure that we have your details and can let you know next steps.

      best
      Simon

  8. July 6, 2016 at 10:41 am

    Hi Simon I think we met before once in London – I’m wondering what we might do to bring a whole load of hosting practitioners into this. We have hundreds of people who have trained in art of hosting in the UK, some still very connected some not so, but many looking for ways of practicing and getting more involved, including lots of community organisers with good grass roots contacts – maybe we should talk. I cant make the meeting on the 7th ( where is it by the way – I’m in Leeds ) but would love to catch up at some time. We are in London next week hosting another training that is totally packed out with a waiting list. Would love to hear more about your ideas and thoughts xxxx linda

    • Simon Burall
      Simon Burall
      July 6, 2016 at 3:28 pm

      Linda

      good to meet you again! That sounds great, we may not have room for hundreds! But it sounds like there is great resource there that it is worth knowing about as we go into the workshop. Will you be there on 22nd?

      Simon

      • July 18, 2016 at 11:16 am

        Hi simon have sent your info round the networks and hope you have a great day, sadly i won’t be able to make it down to London myself – if you think of calling something further north I’d be up for that xx

  9. Sue
    July 6, 2016 at 3:24 pm

    Hi Simon,
    Don’t know how much use I would be at the moment as I am based in Brussels and i don’t think I would be available on the 22nd of July, but I’m a practitioner – but would be interested to be kept in the loop.
    Sue

    • Simon Burall
      Simon Burall
      July 6, 2016 at 3:27 pm

      great, thanks Sue. If you’ve filled in the form it’s going to be the best way for us to let you know what’s going to happen next

      Simon

  10. July 7, 2016 at 11:21 am

    Dear Simon (and all!),

    I have completed your questionnaire and would like to be involved. I learned about this today from a member of the Healthy Power Alliance, and it strikes me that the questions you are asking are aligned with questions we will be exploring in our conversation about Brexit at the start of August: http://healthypoweralliance.org/event/hpa-peer-learning-meet-up-brexit/

    I also see the kind of questions you are asking as aligned with the purpose of the Healthy Power Alliance: you (all of the people involved in this project) are leading the change from toxic to healthy forms of power in the world. For that reason, I would love to have a chat with you about including your event on the HPA events calendar, and looking at any other areas of support or collaboration which might be appropriate. If this is interesting to you, please get in touch!

    • Simon Burall
      Simon Burall
      July 8, 2016 at 11:03 am

      Nathaniel

      Thank you for your kind response. Very happy for you to include the event in your calendar. And happy to talk too. I’ll email you.

      best
      Simon

  11. July 11, 2016 at 11:49 am

    Hi Simon,

    cc Kaela

    just to give a friendly wee wave from north of the border(!)

    The dynamics of what you are seeking to promote (as I read your helpful post) are likely to be a bit different up here, what with the backstory, immediate context (#EURef campaigns and voting patterns, etc.), and tribes involved, being what they are locally – as I’m sure that you well know from your own work.

    So can I put down a marker for keeping in touch with what transpires on the 22nd and thereafter, while seeking a very preliminary natter with you both about something kinda parallel for up north, tailored to suit what will happen locally (which of course none of us can predict really – apart from that it will have its own Scottish flavour!).

    with kind regards,
    Peter

    • Kaela Scott
      Kaela Scott
      July 11, 2016 at 1:17 pm

      Hi Peter,
      Thanks for showing your interest in this, and I agree that while the context of the discussions in Scotland may be a bit different, they are discussions we all need to be having.
      It would be great to talk to you about how we can develop something with a Scottish twist!
      Kaela

  12. July 12, 2016 at 7:13 pm

    Thanks again Simon & Involve for this initiative, I’m sorry that I can’t join the meeting in London next week but I am glad to know that other IAF members are able to. IAF will be glad to support any way that we can, as I am sure that many in our networks will be glad to have an opportunity to apply their skills in such a way. IAF England & Wales convenes regular free facilitation meetups in London & South East, South West & North of England, and I understand that IAF Scotland may also be interested. We also have scheduled a national meetup during International Facilitation Week 2016, Saturday 22 October in Birmingham, that could provide a forum for follow-up

  13. July 12, 2016 at 8:15 pm

    Hi Peter and everyone
    I’ve just caught up with this and have filled out the form, so hope I’m not too late. All sounds really interesting, a much-needed intervention at this time. Looking forward to hearing more. I’m a trainer/facilitator/coach and I’m involved in a couple of Facilitator networks, plus a Mind & Body practitioner group.

    • July 12, 2016 at 8:18 pm

      Oops, forgive the typo – I meant to say Simon! Apologies.

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