By Alain Munyangabe, Basis Project Training and Development Support Worker
Last weekend on 27 June 2009, Beatriz Fernandez, South East Organisation Development Officer for the Basis Project, facilitated an event for Reading Refugee Support Group (RRSG) in Reading.
It was in fact a discussion on what RRSG should prioritise for the next two or three years. Her methodology made me think either of Paolo Freire with his very popular education methodology on the cycle Action- Reflection- Action, or Appreciative Inquiry as a way of thinking, seeing and acting for powerful, purposeful change in an organisation.
After introductions, Beatriz asked Jean Carroll, the chair to explain the background of the organisation to the participants who were: trustees, volunteers, staff members and service users.
After this, Beatriz had already prepared the flipcharts on everything they do: Case work, event support, refugee awareness, outreach services, and so on… the interaction was so interesting that some clarifications were sought from staff members on how they do things.
After a cosy lunch under the sun and trees on the RRSC roof terrace, I conducted a short energiser exercise that made everyone use their body as if they were jungle drums.
I divided the attendees into three groups and focused on three areas: clients they work with, services they provide and the new services they may deliver in the future. Although an agreement was reached on what to prioritise, this event was only the start of a process of client engagement and work planning for RRSG.
Throughout the day the issue of how service users can be more involved was raised. The service users present hailed the work of RRSG and insisted on being involved in the activities of the organisation. One said that being called to attend the event was an honour and she caused laughter when she said that she came because she received a direct phone call and not a letter that could have ended up in the bin!
The day closed at 3.30pm and the feedback was very positive. Beatriz was thanked for the way she facilitated the day and the participants enjoyed the opportunity to explore the future of their organisation.