Reflections from practitioners

On 9th October, we brought together the practitioners who have been testing the personal asset mapping tool together for the last time. At this session, we were keen to hear more about how they’d been getting on trialing the tool out in practice, as well as listening to their reflections on the process and being involved in the project overall.

Here are some of the things that practitioners said that they had learned in the project:

“How beneficial asset mapping can be to achieve individual goals”

“I’ve learned that I didn’t know some of my clients as well as I thought”

“How the tool can be used across the board, not just about mental health”

“Potential to use the maps with individuals and groups but needs buy-in from practitioners”

“That practitioners from different backgrounds are very skilled”

Similarly, we were aware that many of the practitioners involved in the project were very used to working within set-out processes, with validated tools and that working in an exploratory way would take them out of their comfort zone. We knew this might bring a number of challenges for the practitioners, which we were keen to understand better.

We asked practitioners about some of the fears that they’d overcome throughout the project process, and one of the clear themes was developing confidence – both in using the tool, but in their own skills as a practitioner. Some examples of other factors mentioned by the practitioners include:

“Overcame the people I support’s initial doubts about the project.”

“Overcome- lack of confidence in my knowledge.”

“Making something complex simple enough to explain.”

Practitioners were clear that there were still some barriers that would need to be overcome before the approach could be embedded in practice. These barriers included:

“The future. Where we go from here? Will the digital tool be used.? Selling asset mapping to staff.”

“Becoming more practiced in utilising the tool with others with different needs and support.”

“Follow up and engagement with people who use services”

“Adapting it so that it works for the majority or at least so they will try it.”

It was invaluable to get this feedback from the practitioners, and the project team will be considering these issues as we move the project forward – particularly that of ‘selling’ and communicating the goals and outcomes of the process to other practitioners working locally.

As part of the project evaluation, and understanding the worth of the process, we will, of course, be following up with individuals to find out how they felt about their experience of being involved in the project, to understand if they felt differently after having gone through the asset mapping process and to determine any changes they might have made as a result of this. A full report will be available in due course.

We are also working together with the Connections (The Richmond Fellowship) peer-support group to develop the next prototype of the digital tool, ensuring that people who use services are at the centre of the development process.

We’d like to thank all of the people who were involved in testing the tool and process in practice – your hard work, commitment and openness has made the project possible.

Mapping Bishopbriggs

Last week, we spent quite a lot of time in Bishopbriggs – or ‘bishy’ and ‘the briggs’ as many people commented! Over the course of both events, we spoke to approximately 55 people from a wide range of backgrounds.

What was clear from talking to people, is that Bishopbriggs is an asset rich community with a wide range of resources and assets. Lots of people from surrounding communities visit Bishopbriggs to use their community facilities and resources – more so, than other areas we’ve visited to date.

Community Assets

We managed to capture a lot of information from both sessions in Bishopbriggs. Some of the assets that people said were most useful for their well-being included:

  • Hunters Hill village – a little village with a wide variety of shops including an art gallery, pet shop, cafe, and “it’s a really nice community area, whee people can go to meet each other”
  • Fort Theatre – a community theatre company offering creative classes, drama groups, film clubs and charity fundraisers.
  • The view from the canal across to the fields – described as “one of the best views in East Dunbartonshire, really beautiful and tranquil”
  • Bishopbriggs Cycle Co-op – offers cycle lessons, cycle events, cycle maintenance workshops and much more. “they taught my children how to ride without stabilisers”
  • Monteith Park – residents noted that there is a big hill at Monteith Park which is a great play area and “a great sledging hill when it snows!”
  • The Hub at the Evangelical Church – has a wide range of activities from youth groups, toddlers groups and a cafe which is really popular at lunchtime. Described as “a great cafe, with meringues to die for!”
  • Bishopbriggs School of Music – great social events and lessons for children and adults. “There is a fab ceilidh band that runs from the school”
  • Curves gym – friendly gym “as well as access to equipment and classes, they also do a walking group for older ladies.”
  • Bishopbriggs Memorial Hall – one of the few community halls which runs a range of activities from a swimming club to a dog training club. Local residents can also book the hall for parties and functions.
  • Delhi Darbar – a great place to meet and eat which is really relaxing and social. Renowned locally for having great, good quality tasty meals.
  • Transport – Bishopbriggs is one of the few areas visited in the duration of this project that has not highlighted public transport as a significant issue. Many people commented that the train line was one of the best local assets, particularly as many people living in the area commute for work.

Opportunities

There were a number of areas highlighted as potential development areas in Bishopbriggs. Many of these were pointed out at both the workshop and the drop-in session:

  • there are lots of grandparetns in Bishopbriggs that do childcare for their families, there is potential to devleop a group for these people who may not feel as comfortable going to the same groups as younger people
  • there is a lot of congestion in Bishopbriggs. Opening up cycle routes that would connect both sides of Bishopbriggs would be a great opportunity
  • there was a lot of talk about the new hypermarket which is proposed for the community. It would be fair to say that discussions around this provoked mixed feelings in residents – many people highlighting that there should be space planned within the development for community activities.
  • some residents highlighted that it would be great if some of the green space could be opened up to create a community garden/ allotment.

We were also lucky to have Catherine Exposito along for these workshops. Catherine is working to understand local resources and groups that might be useful for people with long-term conditions. We are keen that the data we collate can be used as far and as wide as possible, so it was fab to have Catherine along to share her experience and to involve her in the work that we are doing. More to come about Catherine’s project soon.

Thanks again to Bishopbriggs Community Church for their hospitality – including encouraging people to come along to the session. We had a lovely morning and hope to be back again soon.

Meeting young people at Kirkintilloch Skatepark

The asset project was invited to hold an asset-mapping event on Wednesday August 1st with the children and young people who attend the skatepark initiative in Luggie park. It was a cracking day attended by over 76 people of varying ages.  The resultant asset map is currently being developed and will be available shortly. The skatepark is unique as it is the only one of its kind and is obviously seen as a great local asset by those who attend from across the whole of East Dunbartonshire.

At this event, we really valued having the opportunity to speak to younger people from across East Dunbartonshire about the local assets that they find useful for their well-being. It was interesting to hear (and map) the different places that young people like to use to hang out, socialise with friends and mess around. Having a place to do this was seen as crucially important for the young people’s well-being.

The skatepark initiative itself shows how collectively the young people got together (and engaged their friends, families, little sisters, uncles and grandmas) to create change in their local environment. The whole community owns a part of its success, and in creating the skatepark and involving people in its development the community has seen that the young people of east dunbartonshire are important and responsible citizens when they are given the opportunity.

NB: Kirkintilloch Skatepark was the dream of local youngsters for many years.  The first petition by skaters went in to the local Council in 1987 and their demands featured regularly in the local paper, the Kirkintilloch Herald.  In 2003, East Dunbartonshire Council agreed to work in partnership with a local charity, Kirkintilloch Skatepark Initiative or KSI as it is now known.   The Council gave the KSI the site and the youngsters raised the money to build an open access concrete skatepark at a cost of £458,000 opened in 2009. Today KSI run competitions, events and coaching at the skatepark and the Council has adopted the skatepark and does the repair and maintenance.

 

Mapping Torrance

Our world tour of East Dunbartonshire continues on schedule with a visit to the Torrance Caldwell Halls where we were assisted and supported by the Caldwell Hall Champions Cathy and Rona.  The Caldwell halls are a charitable organisation run by the local community that aims to promote a sense of community connectedness.

However, despite torrential rain, 5 people attended and helped us create an asset map of the Torrance area. Although the event had relatively low numbers it provided an opportunity for participants to learn what assets they have at their disposal and how they feel about their local community.

One of the key features described by local people (similar to Twechar) was their access to green and open space – particularly the River Kelvin and the Forth and Clyde canal walkways “this has enabled a lot of community groups to become established such as the Ramblers association, fishing and cycle clubs which all enjoy the natural assets available”.

Many people recounted stories of how they used to play with their friends beside the disused Tower Bridge “it was the best swing ever!” indicating how much these elements of the local landscape means to people, but also highlighting features of the landscape that have the potential to be developed and used differently.

We heard how a lot of new “assets” have recently been developed to improve the local area including:

  • Book exchange (“increase local knowledge and history”)
  • Bardowie Loch (“lots of chances to get wet!”)
  • Greenspace group (“Improving the environment for the kids to use to get them out and about”)
  • Local Historian (“it encourages an interest in local history and a sense of achievement of the past”)
  • Balmore Church (“good church support”)
  • Torrance Community Centre (“keeps up the community spirit”)
  • Local pubs (“people come to talk about different things and just get together”)

We had a great opportunity to talk at great depth with Cathie and Rona who know the area like the back of their hands! We were able to hear about what Torrance is like now, but more importantly, we were also able to hear about their future vision of how Torrance could be, and how it its currently a great asset to those who live there.

Some quotes from the day:
“Great place but could be better if we had improved transport”
”lots of walks and open spaces”
“The local pub grub is great”

It was really interesting to hear how people began to think a little bit differently about the different assets that were described. For example, many people hadn’t originally seen some of the local businesses as an asset, but were then able to consider the different contributions that each of them made to the feel of the area. Most importantly, people began to think of Torrence itself as an asset – which was lovely to hear!

Mapping Twechar

On 20th July, Twechar Healthy Living and Enterprise Centre hosted our most recent asset mapping workshop. We were fortunate to talk with 9 local people (age range from 4- 70  years old) to find out what assets they have at their disposal and how they feel about their local community.

It was clear from the beginning of the day, that although Twechar is a very small area, there is a whole lot of community spirit! When we walked through the doors of the centre we were struck by how many notices and signs that were available that highlighted lots of community assets and resources.

One of the key features described by local people, was their access to green space – particularly the forest. Many people recounted stories of how they used to play with their friends outside “we used to just let our imaginations run riot!” indicating how much this element of the local landscape means to people.

Similarly, every person that we talked to mentioned the close-knit community spirit, and that networks between people were particularly strong. Some highlighted that there was increasing demand for housing in Twechar, thought to be due to the attraction of the community spirit. There was also a sense that as the community had already achieved so much together, there was a belief (and hope) that there is always a way to get things done which was quite surprising, and very inspiring to hear.

We also heard about a number of initiatives driven by local people, that have helped bring services to the community, rather than the community having to go to them. For example, the Healthy Living Centre now hosts a weekly doctors surgery which has helped the doctors get to know the community better and has increased access for people.

As well as this, other assets included:

  • Fruit delivery service (“delivery straight to your door”)
  • walks from Castlehill (“lovely walks – if you’re fit!”)
  • swing parks (“for the kids to use to get them out and about”)
  • Dr Twechar DVD (“it shows the history of the area”)
  • community gym
  • Twechar Beach Party (“keeps up the community spirit”)
  • Twechar Parish Group (“people come to talk about different things, get tea and home-baking”)

My colleague, Marta Riberio from IRISS, was on hand on the day to add markers to the map electronically as we were talking. This saved a lot of time, and helped us categorise the assets as we went along.

We were also really fortunate on the day to meet Sandra Sutton – a true community champion – who has lived and worked in Twechar over the years to ensure that the community makes the decisions about its future, and who takes a truly asset-based approach to her work. Sandra and her team imparted a wealth of knowledge about the history of the area, as well as some of the plans for their future, which left the team feeling really inspired.

Thanks to Sandra and co for your hospitality – it was lovely to meet you all, and it was great to hear all your stories!

Some quotes from the day:

“its handy for me – everything is on my doorstep”

“with me being disabled, everyone looks after me”

“its a wee tote gym, but it does the job”

Mapping Bearsden and Milngavie

Regular blog readers will know that over the coming months, there are a number of events happening across East Dunbartonshire designed to engage residents in a conversation about living in their local communities and finding out what assets are the most useful.

The first of these events was focused on mapping Bearsden and Milngavie.

Drop-in session

Our first drop-in session was held in Allander Leisure Centre on Saturday 23rd June. We talked with over 60 people (ages ranged from 3 years old right up to those in their 70s).

We asked people what was good about living in their local community, and what local assets they’d want to promote on a digital map. We retrieved a varied response, some of the assets are listed below.

What was clear from talking to people, was that they really appreciated having lots of open green space in Milngavie and Bearsden. There is a host of evidence which reports the significance of access to green space for health and wellbeing (Ellaway et al 2001, Sooman & Mcintyre 1995), many people discussed how this was the most valued community asset, but that potentially more could be done with the green space to open it up to be used by more people.

Similarly, people were not shy in coming forward to identify local residents who they thought of as being the heart and soul of the community and who helped to foster a unique community spirit.

Following the mindapples philosophy, we also asked people what different things they do every day to promote their own well-being. This is in response to lots of recent evidence that suggests that as many as 50% of our mental health issues are preventable (Department of Health, 2009) with much of our mental health and well-being being down to our individual choices and actions.

This proved to be a difficult task for some people – many hadn’t ever taken the time to think about their own well-being. With some helpful prompting from the team, however, people were able to think more broadly about the types of things that they do generally (perhaps not every day!) to keep themselves well. These varied from doing a good deed, taking exercise, investing time in relationships, taking time to appreciate things and trying new experiences.

Many people (particularly families) commented that it had been useful to take the time to think about their well-being and we think that this is vitally important and as such we will be repeating this exercise through the rest of the drop-in sessions. So, why not come along to the next session and share your personal wisdom?!

Workshop

We also held a community workshop at the Enterprise Centre in Milngavie.This gave us the opportunity to work in a more structured way with a smaller number of individuals. Over a three hour period, we talked in-depth about the local area and were amazed by the wealth of contributions with such a small number of people. Thanks to those of you who came along!

A brief overview of asset contributions from the workshop included:

All of the assets identified will be added to the community map over the next few weeks. In the meantime, please remember that you can text COMMUNITY to 60777 followed by your favourite local asset to ensure it is added to the map (all texts will be charged at your standard network rate).

We found that Bearsden and Milngavie has a wealth of community groups and voluntary organisations with significant experience of community engagement. We also found, however, that there is potential for improvement in partnership working between public and community agencies. We heard that local people are concerned about the sustainability of current initiatives and believe that long-term solutions can only be achieved through greater community leadership and a focus on volunteering.

We also learned a lot about the history of the local area, and changes that have happened over time. Although the proposed community hubs were considered to a positive asset, there were some concerns voiced about the locations of these and lack of parking facilities to enable access to a wider reach of people.

Interestingly, when we asked participants how they thought local residents might engage with the digital map, they were clear that in certain groups there is a lot of apathy around trying out new places/activities. This was particularly so for older people. The participants thought that in some instances, it would be crucial to provide support, a ‘buddy’ along with sufficient transport to get people to even think about using some of the assets that had been mapped.

The project team were using these sessions as ‘tester’ events so that we could learn what works best and what doesn’t. We would have liked to get the views of more people in the area, and it is likely that we’ll arrange a future session at one of the local groups that were identified. Also, we didn’t get the chance to categorise the identified assets in the time allocated in the session, which is something we will incorporate into future events.

Participant quotes from the day:

“I’d just like to say how nice this group has been, you’ve made me feel very at home and I’ve enjoyed being part of it”

“I didn’t really realise how many organisations there are in the area”

“[the best asset] is our community spirit”

References

Department of Health (2009) Flourishing People, Connected Communities: Available from: http://tinyurl.com/cdsdo8s

Ellaway A, Anderson A and Kearns A (2001) Perceptions of place and health in socially
contrasting neighbourhoods, Urban Studies, 38 (12) 2299-2316

Sooman A and McIntyre S (1995) Health and perceptions of the local environment in socially contrasting neighbourhoods in Glasgow, Health and Place, 1(1) 15-26

What’s good about living in your local community?

We are developing a community map of well-being that will cover all of East Dunbartonshire, and would like you to get involved! There are a number of drop-in opportunities as well as community workshops planned.

Community drop-in sessions

These are for everyone. They’ve been designed to be fun, informal and interactive. Come and share your stories about living locally, tell us what local assets are useful for your community – it won’t take up much of your time. See you there!

Community workshops

The workshops are similar to the drop in sessions but are more in-depth and structured. You can expect to be involved in a series of activities that will help to create a virtual online map that can be used to promote positive health and well-being for all. Book your space, or get more details by contacting:

david.law@ggc.scot.nhs.uk
lynsay.haglington@eastdunbarton.gov.uk
sheena.bremner@edva.org

You can find the dates and venues for all events in this flyer

Text us!

If you can’t manage to get along to any of the events, you can always text us to let us know about useful assets in your area. It couldn’t be simpler. Just text COMMUNITY to 60777 with details of assets in your area that you find most useful for your well-being. All texts will charged at your standard network rate.

Social Assets in Action Project Launch

On the 24th of May, In the glorious sunshine, we launched the Social Assets in Action project – phase two of the asset-mapping project in East Dunbartonshire.

The aim of the event was to introduce all key stakeholders to the project, to engage and excite them about being involved and to convey the relevance of the project work for them. In total, there were 45 participants representing a range of local agencies and services from across the local authority.

Mark Richards, East Dunbartonshire CHP, and Andy Martin, East Dunbartonshire Council, introduced the day and set the scene, explaining how the work built on the positive response to the assets work showcased at the, ‘Stop…See Me…Listen =  Better Outcomes’ event, held in October 2011.

Andy Martin talked about the recent IRISS Insight (focusing on strengths based approaches for working with individuals) that was published and highlighted to the group that, ‘asset based approaches are not about ‘spinning struggles into strengths’ and urged the audience to see the project as an opportunity to re-connect with their values and to foster a well-being focus within their practice.

I then gave a brief overview of the theory and evidence for the use of asset-based approaches and touched briefly on the project work from 2011 (which has been covered extensively on this blog).  We also showed videos from previous participants as well as presenting some comments from people who use services who had given their views about the project at an earlier event. You can download my Presentation here.

Fran McBride then gave an overview of the next phase of the project. She explained that there were three streams of work:

-development of a digital tool for practitioners to use alongside people who use services. This tool will be developed in partnership with a range of practitioners in order to make sure that it can be easily integrated into usual work

-extension of the community map to cover all of East Dunbartonshire. In order to facilitate this, there will be numerous events* held in the different towns and communities that will be opened up to a broader range of people

-project evaluation. We want to uncover the impact of this work on people as well as documenting the process so people in other areas can learn and build on the project . We have commissioned Jenni Inglis from VIE to carry out an independent evaluation of the project.

Most of all, Fran set the tone for the rest of the day by highlighting that this is a collaborative project. We want everyone to get involved – to spread the word about the project to their teams, colleagues and people who use their services. It is crucial that as a project team we learn from the wealth of experience that exists locally – we have some ideas but also want to encourage others’ input as much as possible.

It was then time to get hand’s on!

Each of the tables were set up to provide a demonstration of the different processes that we used in last years project. We wanted to give delegates a sense of what it would be like to be a participant, but also to think about how they might use the different processes in their everyday work.

We asked delegates a number of questions:

  • How would you see yourself using these tools?
  • What might make it easier or harder to use these tools ?
  • Have you used anything like this before? If yes what’s different about these tools?
  • What do you think might happen if you use these tools? What difference would that make to you?
  • Who (types of people or groups) would need to be involved for the community asset mapping project to work best?
  • What might help these groups get involved, what might stop them?
  • Is there anything happening locally we can link to? Is there anything happening that make this project more difficult to work well?

Common themes that emerged around these questions have been collated below:

Community asset mapping process

- really good way to engage people into the fabric of society – could reduce isolation. Needs to be promoted well in order to reach a wider audience (local businesses, churches, local community members). The project team should consider linking into existing community events such as the gala days etc.

- using the community map as a signpost really helps the wider community have a great sense of choice and control over the activities and resources they use to look after their well-being. It promotes the shift in thinking about resources beyond statutory services.

- many people thought that asset mapping would be useful, but thought a step further about the support people might need in order to use the different assets. Some thought that using the tools might increase client confidence to access new community resources, others thought that this needed to be considered further.

- using these tools would give practitioners a greater knowledge and understanding of services and resources that might be useful to people. It might broaden out the opportunity for discussion and exploration with an individual

Some ideas:

- people without access to the internet/computers will not be able to access the map. An idea might be to display some of the picture maps created at the workshops through out the area in health centres, churches, community centres etc.

- would be interesting to categorise the assets on the maps in terms of how people might be feeling. E.g. ‘I am feeling lonely’ or ‘I am feeling confused’ and signposting people to assets from there.

Personal asset mapping process

- personal map is a good starting point for support and is a tool that could lead to a care plan. Some delegates thought that the tool wasn’t new and in fact was closely linked to person centred planning. Others thought that the focus on well-being enables the conversation to be more generic and maintains a focus on the whole person.

- the fact that the physical pieces can be moved means that the process is fluid and flexible – empowering people to become part of their own recovery and utilising more natural supports. A digital version of this may make it easier to update and track changes in progress.

- this process makes the default position person-led, not service-led. The tools are a creative way of thinking about what is supportive, rather than the traditional way of fitting people into services. Practitioners will need to adapt practice to work in this way.

- this tool is useful for helping people to see the small steps they are making – which might not be so evidence unless they are made visual. It is also more concrete – making it difficult for people to deny progress/assets

Some ideas:

- would be useful to re-visit maps every few months to monitor progress and to see how far people have come on (or not)

- maps should be completed when people are ‘well’ and used in conjunction with a ‘keeping well plan/recovery’. Some people thought that the use of the tool would support the ‘where are we? how do we move on?’ conversation with clients.

The project team will be collating all responses in order to shape the next phase of the project.

Some comments from delegates evaluation forms included:

I’ve learned:

‘a whole host about the assets approach and how it can change people’s lives’

‘that the asset mapping can be an important tool in obtaining a clearer assessment of an individuals strengths and help to shift emphasis from a resource led to a strengths led approach when accessing services’

I think the tools are:

‘fun and useful. Interesting how they can be used to engage people in different ways and at a different pace’

‘useful, dynamic and visual’

We were pleased that delegates overwhelmingly noted that they would use the tools in future and half of all delegates left their names to continue to be involved in the project and to be contacted by the project evaluator. We will be in touch!

For more information about this project, please contact the project team:

Fran McBride – frances.mcbride@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

David Law – david.law@ggc.scot.nhs.uk

Lynsay Haglington – lynsay.Haglington@eastdunbarton.gov.uk

Lisa Pattoni – lisa.pattoni@iriss.org.uk

You can expect regular updates on this project blog from different members of the project team, but we’d really like to hear your views – so feel free to add comments, thoughts and reflections to any of the blog posts.

*Community events

You’ll see us around many events that are already taking place locally. But we’ve arranged these dates specifically to get people to think about their well-being and local assets that might help promote this.

Bearsden and Milngavie:
Saturday 23rd June 2012, Allander Sports Centre, Bearsden     12pm – 5pm
Friday 29th June 2012, Enterprise Centre, Milngavie 10am – 1pm

Twechar:
Friday 20th July 2012, Healthy Living Centre, Twechar 10am – 1pm
Saturday 28th July 2012, Healthy Living Centre, Twechar 12pm – 5pm

Torrance:
Monday 23rd July 2012, Caldwell Halls, Torrance 10am-1pm
Saturday 18th August 2012, Caldwell Halls, Torrance 12pm – 5pm

Bishopbriggs:
Monday 17th September 2012, Bishopbriggs Community Church 10am – 1pm
Saturday 22nd September 2012, Bishopbriggs Leisure Centre 12am – 5pm

Lennoxtown and Milton of Campsie:
Tuesday 9th October 2012, Campsie Memorial Hall, Lennoxtown 10am – 1pm
Saturday 20th October 2012, Campsie Memorial Hall, Lennoxtown 12pm – 5pm

Kirkintilloch:
To be confirmed.

Thanks and acknowledgements

Our friends at East Dunbartonshire Association for Mental Health (EDAMH) were also on hand to facilitate a table and share their experience of using an asset based approach in practice. We’re really happy that Julie Leonard from EDAMH will be co-facilitating sessions with practitioners alongside Fran McBride in the project.

See Mindapples for more information about their campaign which aims to make looking after your own mental well-being as brushing our teeth, by asking everyone, “What’s the 5-a-day for your mind?”.

We love using the different wooden blocks, sticks and cubes for the different mapping processes. If you do too, see Tessy Britton’s shop on Etsy.

Many thanks also to East Dunbartonshire Voluntary Action who helped with the administration of the event, and the Kirkintilloch Baptist Church who provided a lovely, accessible venue for the event.

Workshop 3: 4th August

The third and final workshop in the series focused on bringing together the ideas from the previous sessions, firming up the assets that we felt were important to map, and considering how we might (as individuals and organisations) use them better.

Who was there?

Because we were keen to work slightly differently at this workshop, we brought together a smaller number than the previous two sessions. This was important as we were keen to help people map their personal assets, which could be considered quite difficult to do in a large group. This meant that there was 10 people at the workshop (5 people who use services, and 5 who support people who use services).

What did we do?

1. What does well-being mean to me?

We worked together in two groups of seven people (including facilitators) to think about how we feel when we are well, and the types of things that we do to help us continue to feel this way. We wanted to capture this at the beginning of the session so that we could refer back to this when completing the other activities. We were keen to encourage people to be aspirational when completing their well-being statement.

Some of the statements looked like this:

The majority of people talked about ‘feeling good inside’, as well as feeling a sense of ‘calm’ or ‘relaxation’. It was interesting that many people talked about knowing themselves well enough to judge when they would need to take action to keep themselves feeling well, and when they did not.

The types of activities that people talked about doing to keep well were similar to those that had been discussed in previous weeks and centred around:

  • connecting with others
  • keeping busy, and having structure to your day
  • feeling motivated was really important for both groups – knowing how to get motivated and what works for your was incredibly important
  • knowing what services were available, knowing how to use them, when and how you could be referred was also talked about as being vital
This activity worked well as a good ice-breaker, unearthing a lot of commonalities within the group and providing talking points. It got people talking about themselves – something that can be quite difficult to do in groups.

2. Review of the map and generating ‘tags’

We worked together at this stage to review the community map so far and to think about what assets might be missing. It is amazing that whenever we bring together new groups of people to do this exercise the amount of new information that we learn and share!

Some of the new assets we mapped included:

  • lots of walking routes
  • german bakery
  • 10 pin bowling
  • rape crisis drop in centre
  • live active exercise referral programme
  • community education centres
  • kelvin valley walkers
In general, the groups were pleased with the range of support services that were covered on the map, but wanted to understand more about how to access them.
We were interested in gathering feedback on the types of categories that many of the services and supports may sit under, and used luggage labels as ‘tags’ for people to write and draw their ideas on.
on.
“Searching” and “tagging” were difficult concepts for the participants to get their head around. Some of the ideas that we came up with included:
  • categorizing supports in terms of the way you might feel when you have used them, e.g. ‘relaxation’, ‘confidence’, ‘motivation’ etc.
  • we should have general tags like ‘exercise’ with the ability to choose from a range of options that follow.
  • people thought that how to access services should be tagged – including things like ‘self referral’, ‘open to anyone’, ‘call or apply online’, ‘GP referral only’ etc.
  • people also came up with a range of specific tag words to be used for the individual services.
One of the interesting things was the recognition from the groups that the map would need to work on a number of different levels. It would need to:
  1. Encourage people who know that they need support, and consider what works best for them to try out new things.
  2. Help people who don’t know where to go, or explain how to get started on the road to better mental health and well-being
  3. Be of use to those who need the most support – with helpful phone-lines and ways to get in touch with people immediately.
In addition, there was some discussion around the ‘help yourself’ guide produced by Ceartas for dementia and whether or not something like this could be produced for mental health.

3. Developing my community map

For the next activity we asked people to work in pairs to consider their own personal assets. We asked people to draw or write a map of all of the different affiliations or communities of people they belong to (including moral support, access, resources etc.) that they thought were useful for their well-being. We broke this down into three categories that are most important to them:

  1. People
  2. Places
  3. Activities

The maps looked a little bit like this:

We then asked people:

  1. What they noticed about their community map.
  2. If they’d learned anything that surprised them, or if they’d gained any insights.
  3. What was missing, and what would support them to use the assets in the community map (big map of Kirkintilloch) better.
This was an excellent exercise for people to do as working in pairs, people were able to spark off different ideas off one another and build their maps together. When we asked about what surprised people, the following comments were made:
 made:
“It makes me feel very lucky”
“It reminds me of what I have”
“I’m surprised at how much I have very close to me”
“It made me see the progress I’ve made”
“Its been great to get a chance to think about me, just me”
 made:
People thought that they would be able to use these personal maps in a variety of ways, from doing the exercise again in 4-6 months time so that you could see if anything had changed, using the maps to think about any gaps that they have in their lives (and thinking about what might help address these gaps), and using the maps to see how far they have come.
come.
When asked about what would help people to use the community supports indicated in the large community map better, participants talked about simply knowing what was out there, and how to access it. Some participants talked about needing some support to try things out for the first time – be that from a support worker, a family member or a friend.
We were very careful to show some examples of what these maps could look like before beginning the exercise in order to reassure participants that it would be ok to not have very much on the map. We were also keen to be sensitive to the fact that people may not have wanted to discuss their personal assets, and were planning to use the hypothetical examples in order to get around this.

In reality, every participant in the group was happy to complete their map. Moreover, they all commented, in one way or another, what a positive experience undertaking the activity had been for them.

4. Visualising data

In the last session after lunch, we talked about different ways of presenting the data and information we’ve been collecting over the past month. Participants were given a range of different examples of other online visualised maps from across the world.

We were asked people what was useful and not so useful about these different types of visualisations and what they felt would make them better for the purposes of this locality and in their area.

Some of the ideas that people came up with for the map included:

  • focusing on personal stories of people with lived experience of using services in the area – through quotes or real stories
  • making sure that there is a physical or printed copy that people have as well as an online version
  • there was excitement for using a range of different categories to cover the different services
  • a way to communicate different events (and the locations of those events) – like a prepared diary/calendar
  • a way for organisations to communicate with one another
We were keen to ask people who should be able to upload or update data/resources on the map. The group thought that there should be a representative from each of the specified organisations that would update their own information. There were some reservations about ‘just anyone’ being able to upload information and as such the majority of people thought it should be moderated in some way. Mostly, I think this was due to understanding what community populated websites are like and the type of input that would be involved.
We had a lively discussion at the end about how best to categorise the difference between community and traditional support services, which was similar to the discussion that took place earlier in one of the groups. We thought that a useful way around this would be appropriate tagging – but that some versions of these tags should be circulated around the organisations and posted in the blog to make sure that we get them right.

Reflections

This session was focused on bringing the community elements that we’ve been mapping back down to focus on individuals, and working with people to understand how they could use community supports more. We also wanted people to understand more about the outputs of the project and to have their say in its development and to have them consider how they could potentially use it.

The focus of the project has been on understanding whether or not an asset based approach could be applied to the field of mental health and how its use could reveal existing capacities within the community and in individuals.

I’ve been reflecting on the last session and I think its success was based on looking at people’s personal assets. It was incredibly powerful to see and hear people appreciating and being astounded at all of the different valuable things that they have in their lives and considering the steps that they could take to both strengthen what is there already as well as develop new networks and ties. It was an exceptionally rich process which created a lot of discussion.

This has a lot in common with the recovery based approaches that the service providers in the area are using to help people with mental health problems take control over their journey towards wellness. What we’ve hopefully achieved through this process, is to consider more creatively how providers can work together with people using services to consider how they understand themselves, their well-being and the support and services that might help them in the process of recovery.

I think the process that we’ve gone through over the past three weeks links quite neatly into much of the wellness and recovery action planning (WRAP) work that is already going on in a variety of different ways in the area. Hopefully the process, as well as being useful for the people who use services, has also given practitioners some more tools for their toolbox.

Perhaps the most thought provoking of all was that people recognised that their lives were quite full and that they hadn’t realised or recognised it for a while. The process has shone a light on the value of making things visual and working in 3D.

What’s next?

I’d just like to thank all of the people who have given their time, engery, ideas and enthusiasm by coming along to the workshops and sharing their experiences and knowledge. Truely, the project would not have been possible without you. I hope you are pleased with the end result!

Over the coming weeks, I’ll be working to qualitatively thematize the outputs from the four sessions. This will culminate in:

  • A final report with recommendations and reflections for the local authority to consider
  • A document that outlines the project process, including step-by-step guides and reflections on what went well, and what did not go so well
  • A couple of visualised examples of what the final project output could look like for key stakeholders to consider, develop and agree upon.
Keep watching this space for the first few glimpses of what the outputs might look like – we’d be very happy to get your views and reflections.
More to come soon.

Workshop 2: 25th July

Our second workshop took place on the 25th July –  a bright and sunny Monday – in Kirkintilloch Health and Care Centre.

It was great to see so many people at the workshop – some familiar faces, and lots of new ones too. In the end, we had 22 people coming along to share their experiences and ideas (this was a split of 13 people who use services and 10 people who support those who use services) which was a fabulous turnout – even if it was a bit of a tight squeeze!

What we did

This week, we worked on tasks that encouraged people to share their experiences and that enabled us to gather ideas about how people could be better supported to use community supports and assets.

We started by getting to know each other. There were lots of new faces in the group and it was good to find out a bit about where everyone was from and what their interests were.

We then split into two groups and worked on answering the question: ‘if someone new to the area was to ask you advice for keeping well, what 5 things would you tell them?’

One group looked at this in quite a general way and were able to give lots of practical advice that included:

  • taking things a step at a time. the group agreed that it can be sometimes difficult to think about doing simple things, like taking a shower. The advice was to take it step by step and think about smaller aspects of the activity – like taking the first step out of bed, opening the door etc.
  • trying to keep active – going for walks and knowing good places to get out and about can be really helpful
  • knowing that you’re ‘not the only one’ can help, and knowing that everyone needs support sometimes
  • keeping focused on one task or goal for each day – and getting it done – can feel like a great achievement
  • reminding yourself of all of the things that you’ve achieved that day and focusing on those things rather than what you haven’t achieved can boost feeling well
The other group came up with suggestions like:
  • knowing where to start - having someone or something to point you in the (next) best direction on your journey is very beneficial (signposts to what is available)
  • having someone to talk to – ‘i use them as a sounding board, a mirror. I like to have the same people to contact to go back to time and again’ (people you can rely on)
  • find a place to go and chill out – where you can get peace and quiet (this group were able to identify lots of places on the map that would be useful for this)
  • do the little things that matter e.g. one person was very keen to keep their house tidy and as long as that was done she felt a sense of achievement. Find out what your ‘thing’ is.
  • having chance meetings – you might think that you want to be alone, but you might actually enjoy bumping into people. There are lots of cafes in Kirkintilloch that make wee 5 min chats with people easy – you can just pass pleasantries and you don’t have to plan the meeting (so you don’t need to cancel if you’re having a bad day).
We talked about how we could share this information with people and how we could make something physical that would convey some of these ideas. The groups came up with a few ideas that people seemed really keen on:
  • prompt cards: small cards (that you can keep in your wallet) with words and phrases by people with lived experience of mental ill health for those currently experiencing it
  • paper maps of the area that identify key services

We then went on to build on top of the maps that we’d produced in the first workshop.

The groups were keen to add additional services outside of Kirkintilloch – stretching out to Bishopbriggs, Milngavie, and Bearsden. Many people highlighted the poor transport links between these different towns and how this can make access to services incredibly difficult.

Other assets that had not been previously identified included:

  • public partnership forum – have your voice heard
  • local carers centres
  • aromatherapy (through EDAMH) – helps relaxation
  • contact point – at the park centre, useful resource
  • different walking routes
  • the Kirkintilloch players (theatre company)
  • community addictions team
  • EDICT – painting is  brilliant!
  • Carer’s Link – a rich source of support
  • Denise’s cafe – friendly staff and good for bumping into people
  • Kirkintilloch Herald
  • The badminton group
(we’ll have a few examples of maps available in a future post – very soon)

The groups also highlighted areas for improvement, including things that were missing within the community.

One of the groups talked in depth about assessment of need and the type and amount of information that is held about people using mental health services. Many people were aware of WRAP (Wellness and Recovery Action Planning) but not many had completed one. The group were quite clear that making a plan, and being assessed should not be a tick-box exercise and that it should be based on the individual and should be made to suit individual needs. The group also talked about how making advance statements was a useful thing to do, but not many had completed these either.

Many people highlighted the lack of social day activities within the area. People referred to the old Clubhouse and were clear that some of the functions that it had provided were really useful (see previous post). A few people talked about how there were many open spaces available and that an affordable cinema could be a good place to go and meet people, and that they could be used for big events like ‘ mental health awareness week’ or ‘gala day’ etc.

Community assets: think of a heavenly experience…

We asked the groups to work on creating a storyboard of the different areas that could improve and how the experience could be better – we did this from two different perspectives

  • Heaven: no barriers or hurdles/success and
  • Hell: barriers, hurdles and complications

People tended to draw on their own experiences of services or to focus on the different types of social activities that they perceived are missing within the community. The ideas focused on:

  • Being listened to more: people being allowed more time to talk and explain themselves, and to be seen as an individual.
  • Communication between the supporting services (health and community care professionals) and carers
  • Having a place to go where people understand you – where you can choose to talk about issues, or not – depending on how you are feeling
  • A drop in centre that is inclusive, allowing people access to a range of different services – like a hub

What should we do with all this information?

A key aspect of the project is to ensure that what we are learning is shared with others and is used to help improve existing service delivery. In addition, we want to ensure that the learning is used by people who use services – so that they can better see what is available and better direct their own support.

We were keen to ask the groups their views on how the outputs of the project should be shared.

Almost all of the participants thought that it would be crucial to share the project findings amongst the mental health service providers in the area. This was part of a broader discussion that highlighted that more could be done to ensure these agencies communicate better with one another – especially linking health, social work and voluntary agencies together.

Key, was also ensuring that the information was easy to access and always kept up to date – there has been some trouble with this in the past.  In addition, people were keen that as well as online based information, that there be a physical counterpart that people can keep with them to refer to.

Reflections…

We learned a lot from the last workshop and made sure that there were plenty of breaks – to keep ourselves refreshed and alert, as well as making sure there were lots of different ways for people to have their say. Ways to provide feedback ranged from speaking out into the group, posting thoughts and comments in the post box anonymously, as well as being provided with email, phone and contact information for people who prefer to reflect on their experience and to share afterwards.

The evaluation sheets were overwhelmingly positive from the day. Everyone who provided a completed sheet mentioned how much they had enjoyed the session with the following comments being made:

‘very interesting and thought provoking look at services and what helps people stay well’

‘the ‘holistic approach’ to what you were doing was really good – not just focused on services, but taking the whole aspect of folks lives into account’

‘enjoyed the contact with people with similar lived life experiences’

‘enjoyed the information sharing and mapping all the positives in the east dun area’

‘I’ve left feeling like I could do some research into what’s available and what would benefit my situation’

 ’I felt really good getting feedback from the group and meeting other service users’

The next session will focus on different ways to share and portray the information that has been accumulated over the past few sessions. We expect to gather insights into the sorts of things that people think should be mapped for our online visualisation. In addition, we’ll be helping individuals to think about how they could use assets outlined in the community map to help promote their personal well-being.

I’m also learning lots about how the asset mapping process can be a useful tool for engagement with people – particularly how it can provide an opportunity for people to take a step back, think about what works well and why (and what does not) and consider how we can work with each other differently to change for the better.

This seems to be one of the things that people seem to be valuing most about being involved in the project. It seems to be getting more and more difficult for people to take the space and time to listen to one another and really hear what is being said – both practitioners and people who use services have commented on the value of hearing peoples stories and coming together to think about how things might change.

And there is more to come!

As always, any comments are very welcome.