Lunchtime on 26 August at The Fumbally in Dublin 8. I met with a former recipient of support from Social Entrepreneurs Ireland (SEI). Bernadette Larkin encouraged me to consider two things: expanding the scope of groups I’m planning to work with; and documentation.
Whereas my initial target group was people affected by a particular social issue (homelessness), I've since opened it up to any group working in the community and voluntary sector. However, Bernadette prompted me to consider working with other groups beyond this – such as schoolchildren. Bernadette’s background is in working with children in the arts. She was supported by SEI in 2006 for her work with Ark in Temple Bar.
I spent 27 August devising the following documentation. I also found this cheesy and simplistic diagram on "Purpose" that I wanted to share with you (above).
All of these documents are important for my own project management, but they are also integral to the evaluation process. When approaching potential stakeholders and funders, I want to be in a position where I can demonstrate that I have treated the process professionally and systematically. This is all fairly new to me, but I’m trying my best to learn the processes quickly and efficiently. I want to show that I can adapt my skills and am flexible enough to take guidance and instruction. I know that I don’t know everything setting up a community initiative from scratch. I don’t know much, to be honest! So I’m open to suggestions, of course.
Another conversation with my great friend Sophia got me thinking about how to approach schoolchildren, like Bernadette suggested. A former schoolteacher with Teach First, Sophia now works in the UK Civil Service and remains heavily involved in educational practices. From her experience, she knows that there are windows of opportunity for facilitators of programmes that address and explore topics already on the national curriculum. So, for example, there may be storytelling modules for primary schools or music ensemble modules for teenagers that could benefit from a workshop/series such as mine. By tailoring my workshops to particular educational modules, I could spread the benefits of my project in schools across the country rather than just focusing on a limited group (such as individuals experiencing homelessness or human rights advocates).
This week has been a real turning point in my project. I also met with Claire, one of the Suas staff who is working on The Ideas Collective. It was very positive. Claire reflected back the concerns and questions that I was voicing in the session and she asked me how I could explore them. She suggested a few ideas and tools and already I am feeling much more confident about my project.
This weekend will mark the final weekend session of The Ideas Collective. Then, on Thursday 17 September, we will present each of our projects at a showcase event. It’s all happening very quickly now, but I think I’ll have something ready to launch within a few weeks. Watch this space for updates. And cross your fingers for me...