What do we do with research findings? Safe conversations and peer support among council officers

Vicky Ledwidge, our integration and partnerships officer, hosted some peer learning sessions after the main Communities up Close conference, and here are her thoughts

Research can throw up some juicy nuggets that need time to think through and digest. As part of the Communities up Close project we wanted to create space for this to happen once the comparative report had been published.

My role on the project was to act as the main liaison with councils in Yorkshire and Humber, in particular those with research sites. Once all the field research had been completed, Lucy Mort, one of the researchers from IPPR, and I held online Skype sessions with councils involved to talk through the findings and start to unpick issues. Throughout these, I made notes on major themes and questions that came up over and over again, and started to consider what topics would be useful for some peer learning sessions. The comparative report confirmed my thinking [go me!], so we were all set to host some conversations.

Whether it was brave or foolish I don’t know, but we decided to do just that – have some conversations. I arranged 10 Zoom sessions, one a day over a fortnight, set a theme and ‘starter for 10’ questions for them, arranged booking details on Eventbrite, and just emailed it out to the local authorities.

Fast forward to the first session. About 15 people registered from a wide variety of roles within local authorities and other statutory services. I set the context, asked the first question, sat back, and waited for the conversation to start. And it did. And didn’t stop. I confess my time keeping was appalling for all the sessions because I didn’t want to interrupt the flow!

There’s been some great learning and outcomes, not least that people seemed keen to have a safe space to meet peers in other councils to share issues and solutions. We found out it’s OK to host a conversation without a presentation or agenda. A colleague took bullet point notes which we’ve shared with those who attended. I also know some people exchanged contact details so they can carry on talking. So, maybe we need to find a way of hosting more open conversations in a safe space, and perhaps in time this will lead to more joined-up work across geographical boundaries?


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Page last updated: 28/08/2020 07:21:56

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