Training, Networking, and Co-production: a reading week marathon.
By Briony Fleming, on 21 November 2018
Today we’re looking back at reading week, and some of the activity the UCL Engagement Team delivered. We were all hands on deck with a week of events and training to support researchers and staff improve and develop their skills and understanding of Public Engagement.
Public Engagement: Skills and Practice.
On Wednesday 7th November, we ran our full-day training course for the second time. Public Engagement: Skills & Practice is designed to be a practical and immersive one-day introduction to public engagement for staff and post-graduates students at UCL. The morning plenary offered an introduction to the Engagement Team and our role as well as hearing from a range of speakers and their own experiences of Public Engagement.
Esfand Burman spoke of his work through UCL IEDE and the Engineering Exchange supporting local residents to push for better standards in their housing and dealing with overheating. He talked of having to find way of explaining complex and technical details in a way that meant residents understood the options for heating and ventilation in their housing and were therefore better placed to lobby for more effective solutions to their issues with their local council.
Anne Laybourne followed on and spoke about her ‘first click’ on the Public Engagement Network newsletter, how this led to her becoming involved in one of our flagships programmes the Evaluation Exchange, and this experience influencing her decision to move in a completely different direction and ultimately to a career change. She emphasised having to work hard to carve out the time to undertake public engagement in her role as a fixed term researcher and called for this space to be made more readily available.
Finally we heard from Tse-Hui Teh who talked animatedly about when it all goes wrong. She led us through a journey of her trials and tribulations in a range of public engagement projects, from partnership breakdowns, to unreasonable budgets, and taking on too much work. Importantly she spoke about what she learnt from each of these instances, and how each piece of public engagement she undertook was informed by the last. Despite the rocky road she felt that her public engagement activity was essential to her research, and that the good far outweighed the bad.
After Lunch, delegates broke into a series of workshops. Each designed to target a different public engagement skill, participants chose which workshop they felt most suited their public engagement journey and development needs. The sessions included:
- Get Funded. How to plan, write, and critique your public engagement application for funding.
- Creative Ideas Generation. How to generate ideas and be creative with your public engagement.
- Evaluation What? How? Why? How to plan, design and deliver high quality evaluation of your Public Engagement Activity
- Making Public Engagement Projects Happen. How to deliver high-quality project management of your Public Engagement from planning to delivery.
Centre for Co-Production: co-creation of training and resources.
Following on from PESP, we were back to it, with team member Niccola Hutchison Pascal, and the UCL centre for Co-production in Health Research delivering a session looking at how we co-create training and resources for the centre.
The session brought together a wide range of voices and a number of those running Centre for Co-Production Pilot projects to think about what useful resources look like, and how training should be co-created to be useful and responsive.Discussion centred around topics around how to make training inclusive, intersting and accessible. Suggestions for multi-media approaches, diverse training leads, and producing resources that could be adapted to lots of situations were all highlighted as important factors. The conversation throughout the morning was fruitful, and varied and we look forward with anticipation to see what is produced. Watch this space for more information and updates!
Creating Connections East.
Last but not least we delivered the latest in our regular networking event, Creating Connections. The event brought together representatives from UCL, UEL (University of East London), and east London’s Voluntary Community Sector Organisations (VCSOs) to talk around a number of themes. This was the sixth Creating Connections that we have run in east London and was delivered with UCL Public Engagement, Students’ Union UCL Volunteering Service , UEL , and London Borough of Newham Community Neighbourhood Team. Discussions were had around 5 themes of: Youth Safety and Youth Opportunity, Technology for Good, Literacy and English as a Second Language, Women in Leadership and Heritage and East London. Participants joined two groups each for 25 minutes after which was a quickfire feedback (1.5 minutes per table) followed by a more informal networking session. We were joined by almost 60 participants covering a wide range of disciplines and interests.
The best bit for me was definitely the conversations and group introductions. It was wonderful to see all the positive work taking place