I think using different ideas to pull the group together in the beginning was crucial in providing opportunity for relationships to grow. The group being compiled of service providers, commissioners and service users meant that everyone came with different ideas of what they hoped to achieve from the pathway sessions. I like the way that IRISS look for different ways to get the group accustomed to working together, and to move the ideas we have forward.
Using the 6 hat thinking, at the beginning of the project, provided a fun and interactive session, when everyone in the group did not really know each other yet. It broke down the barriers of who we were and what we did, and allowed us to focus on the subject i.e. SDS and setting small business. Using the hats and changing them added structure to the session and naturally split each topic up, as the hats changed colour. It helped us to get a clearer idea of what a person considering self employment might need in terms of support, sign posting etc.
We then moved on to creating our Pilotlight characters. It was definitely my favourite session so far, as it gave us time to get to know some members of the group a little better, in a fun and different way. It pulled together the creative abilities of some, alongside everyone’s ideas and we were all amazed at what was achieved. I really feel it was a turning point for the group, in terms of relationships, support and trust. The use of the different mediums e.g. cuttings, pens, glue etc made the session interactive and ensured everyone had the chance to be involved in some way.
Since then, you can really see the benefit of bringing realistic characters “to life”. It is great that the whole group can relate to them because they have:
- Lives, homes and families
- Creative ideas for starting up a small business
- Potential pitfalls/worries on how to implement their ideas
- Potential solutions because of who or what they may know, family etc as a resource to support them etc
- Some characters are so “alive” within the groups imagination (e.g. tax expert), that they are helping other characters as they would in real life.
I think pulling together all the characters and their ideas has provided a lovely group atmosphere for all members of our Pilotlight Pathway group, and in turn it has allowed everyone to be included. I feel it has empowered everyone to feel valued and to input to the group discussions, to the level they feel comfortable with, and on the days they feel they can.
I am looking forward to seeing how the characters develop into real solutions and ideas, as I have seen the amazing work the last pathway group achieved, with the creation of their SDS video.
Diane Mcleary is the Shared Lives Officer for Moray Council