Praxis Makes Perfect

Bespoke Results Based Accountability Training and Evaluative Research

Ideas into Action

Confluence Haverfordwest

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I had such a good time working with the wonderful Confluence project over the last four years.
Confluence, one of seven projects across Wales, was supported through the Arts Council of Wales strategic initiative Ideas: People: Places

The overall aims of the initiative were:

  • To embed the arts in a genuine and meaningful way in a small number of imaginative, ambitious and innovative regeneration projects.
  • To explore new ways of working that generate cross sector collaboration, test new ideas and partnerships and inspire communities to re-imagine their environment in a creative and empowered way.
  • To test new models of regeneration and collaboration through the arts.
  • To champion quality in both the design and the execution of projects.

Whilst there are many. well known, examples of the arts contributing to regeneration in cities much less is known about the contribution they can make in small towns.

Through an experimental programme called the Lab, linked to a series of artist commissions, the Confluence project aimed to develop a model for arts led regeneration in small towns in Wales.

The story so far…

Lab HW

It’s been a fantastic couple of years working with The Lab Haverfordwest programme

http://www.thelabhaverfordwest.org/

The Lab is a three-year arts and regeneration programme in Haverfordwest, Pembrokeshire supported by Arts Council of Wales and Pembrokeshire County Council.  The Lab aims to devise and test new and imaginative ways of working in Haverfordwest that will bring the community together to inspire and shape the process of urban planning, design and regeneration.

 

Praxis Makes Perfect worked with the artistic directors and the management group to embed an evaluation framework within the programme.  This aims to show all stakeholders:

  • How well the Confluence programme delivers its activities over the course of the three years.
  • Who has benefitted from these activities and how.
  • How well the project is progressing towards achieving the outcomes envisaged for the project.
  • At the end of the project whether these outcomes were achieved.

 

After delivering a training session in Results Based AccountabilityTM we identified four key performance measures in relation to the desired outcome of realising a model for arts led regeneration in small towns in Wales.

  • % people who feel better about Haverfordwest (river & environs)
  • % people giving positive feedback about the programme
  • % people who participate & engage reporting an increased understanding of what art can be
  • % key decision-makers including regeneration professionals and the public who support and are committed to the role of arts in regeneration

 

During the first year people were invited in a variety of ways to contribute their views and opinions to create a baseline from which change can be measured over time.  We worked with Curious Ostrich to interview people and we will talk to them again in the last year of the project.  Check out The Lab website where all the activities are brilliantly documented as well as the evidence of the positive difference the initiative has made. http://www.thelabhaverfordwest.org/thestorysofar/

 

Parenting Conference

Parenting Conf sm

Praxis has been gently ticking over for the last while since I’ve been working for the wonderful Children In Wales

See below links to the speakers at our parenting conference – Thanks to Curious Ostrich for filming it.
The conference focused on how we should be supporting the mental and emotional wellbeing of children and parents.

A key message on the day was the need for family work to include parent relationship work.

Honor Rhodes OBE, Director of Strategy, Tavistock Centre for Couple Relationships/Trustee of the Early Intervention Foundation
‘Love and Work’ – Honor Rhodes OBE from curious ostrich on Vimeo.
Love and Work: what really works in family intervention, being relational and good at what we do. See here.

Dr Mike Davies, Consultant Psychotherapist
‘Helping those in greatest need’ – Dr Mike Davies from curious ostrich on Vimeo.
Helping those in greatest need: Children and families with complex, multi-dimensional needs. See here.

Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown, Professor of Public Health, University of Warwick
‘Parenting and Public Health’ – Professor Sarah Stewart-Brown from curious ostrich on Vimeo. See here.
Parenting and Public Health.

Gwilym Roberts, CEO Relate Cymru
Taking a relational approach to improving our mental health – Gwilym Roberts from curious ostrich on Vimeo. See here.
A relational approach to improving our mental health.
Taking a relational approach to improving our mental health.

Useful links for those seeking up to date knowledge

Networks and charitable organisations that help to inform my work

I keep myself informed by regularly reading research reports, blogs, comment and articles in the following:

 

UK and Wales based not-for-profit organisations

 

Bevan Foundation:  http://www.bevanfoundation.org/

This is one of my favourite sources of information about social justice issues.  The Bevan Foundation has a very small team but manages to undertake quality research into the causes of injustice and are very pro-active in supporting those seeking solutions. Their website is a good source of information for Wales related issues and broader UK issues.  Members get regular newsletters.

 

Joseph Rowntree Foundation:  http://www.jrf.org.uk/

The output of JRF is prodigious and their research is wide-ranging across poverty in its broadest sense, community resilience and issues of old age.  Like the Bevan Foundation they undertake research, suggest solutions and seek to influence policymakers.

 

The People and Work Unit:      http://www.peopleandworkunit.org.uk/index.html

The People and Work Unit undertakes good quality research and evaluation work and it specialises also in innovative action-research projects.  These action-research projects are usually undertaken in partnership with community groups and some very positive sustainable outcomes have been reported.

 

Children In Wales:  http://www.childreninwales.org.uk

Children In Wales collects and disseminates information about issues affecting children and young people and promote good practice through publications, conferences, seminars and training.

 

Save the Children: http://www.savethechildren.org.uk/where-we-work/united-kingdom/wales

Information on international and national anti-poverty programmes.

 

Children’s Rights in Wales: online resources http://www.childrensrightswales.org.uk/

This website has been designed to help local practitioners, policy makers, managers and strategists develop their understanding of children’s rights and how to adopt a children’s rights perspective to their work.  It is not being staffed at present but resources are still available.

 

The European Anti-Poverty Network (EAPN) http://www.eapn.eu/en

EAPN is the largest European network of national, regional and local networks, involving anti-poverty NGOs and grassroots groups as well as European Organisations, active in the fight against poverty and social exclusion. It was established in 1990.

The membership of EAPN is involved in a variety of activities aimed at combating poverty and social exclusion including, education and training activities, service provision and activities aimed at the participation and empowerment of people experiencing poverty and social exclusion.

 

See their latest magazine http://www.eapn.eu/images/stories/docs/MAG/MAG-139-EN.pdf for some thought provoking reviews of what’s happening to welfare systems in European countries and views on how we need to restructure our economies to ensure wellbeing of all, not just a few.

 

Barbara Helfferich, Director of EAPN, states…

“Welfare states emerged with the belief and knowledge that more equal societies do better. Political leaders decided to ignore that reality when answering to the crisis, by a “there is no other choice” and growth-driven austerity measures. At the expense of people, societies and even economies.”

 

I also like the article in the EAPN Mag by Francine Mestrum of Global Social Justice.  She sets out some inspiring thinking about ‘Social commons’ at the heart of sustainable alternatives to previous growth-based anti-poverty strategies.  www.globalsocialjustice.eu

 


 

Universities’ Sites & Blogs – sharing of research knowledge

 

Cardiff University – research at School of Social Sciences: http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/socsi/research/fundedresearch/1213/index.html

This is an interesting piece of research – Representing communities: Developing the creative power of people to improve health and well-beinghttp://sites.cardiff.ac.uk/representingcommunities/

 

 

Bristol University’s Policy and Politics journal offers free articles that are very topical   http://www.policypress.co.uk/journals_pap.asp

 

London School of Economics (LSE) http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/

The aim of British Politics and Policy blogs at LSE is to:

  • increase the public understanding of the social sciences in the context of UK government
  • facilitate the sharing and      exchange of knowledge between experts within and outside universities
  • open up academic research to increase its impact

 

 

Results Based Accountability

My favourite way to keep up with good news and case studies of use of RBA/OBATM from around the world is on the RBA Facebook page.

Leeds Obsession – David Burnby has recently posted a case study on the Facebook page of work led by Nigel Richardson, Director of Children and Young People’s Services for the City of Leeds, UK -

“This case study shows how clear leadership, and a focus on improving the things that matter, is impacting on the well-being of Children and Young People in Leeds.  ‘Nigel’s Obsessions’ are the three indicators he feels are the ‘herd leaders’ for Leeds.”

 

David Burnby’s own site offers free resources and reflections in his blog about challenges and good practice: http://davidburnby.co.uk/

 

Mark Freidman’s own website: http://www.resultsaccountability.com/  offers a range of resources and news about practice.  You’ll also get to know more about the man himself.

A 2006 Guardian interview with Mark Freidman http://www.theguardian.com/society/2006/nov/01/childrensservices.guardiansocietysupplement

The article refers to problems identified in the Every Child Matters programme in England, mostly due to organisations’ reticence in working collaboratively.  In 2014 silo working is still prevalent.

 

Bringing Ideas Into Action = Praxis

What is Praxis?

Praxis is informed, committed action, the act of implementing.  It is about providing a practical means for accomplishing something.

Praxis is the application or use of knowledge or skills;  practice as distinguished from theory.

Praxis suggests the need for a constant cycle of thinking about the meanings of what can be learned from experience in order to reframe strategic and operational models.

 

But it’s more…

Praxis Graphic

“Praxis is not simply action based on reflection. It is action which embodies certain qualities.  These include a commitment to human wellbeing and the search for truth, and respect for others.  It is the action of people who are free,  who are able to act for themselves.  Moreover,  praxis is always risky.  It requires that a person ‘makes a wise and prudent practical judgement about how to act in this situation.”

(Carr, W. and Kemmis, S. (1986:190) Becoming Critical. Education, Knowledge and Action Research, Lewes: Falmer.)

 

 

Hello

Ger Forest web

I’m Geraldine Murphy, the director of Praxis Makes Perfect.  If you need a consultant that can work closely with you and your team, using methods that fit with your busy working schedule, and who leaves you with sustainable skills and systems in place, then get in touch.

I’m an energetic and skilled trainer, social researcher, and project manager (Registered Prince2 practitioner). I have wide experience of multi-agency working in frontline and senior management/commissioning of children and family services. I’ve worked across Wales to support small charities and bigger organisations to undertake training and bespoke planning workshops.

 

I seek to be very practical in working with others towards social justice. I’ve served as a trustee on two charities in Wales and I have a clear understanding of the valuable contribution of the voluntary sector.

Praxis Makes Perfect works with a number of social researchers and community artists.  We are committed to supporting the empowerment of members of communities through innovative evaluative research approaches and to improving collaboration across organisations.

Key services

  • Results Based Accountability training and ongoing support
  • Development of innovative evaluation processes for your organisation
  • Collaborative film production with you and your service users to evaluate and/or promote your service or project
  • Evaluation of your service, project/programme
  • Facilitation of workshops focused on developing a commissioning strategy for your organisation or partnership.

To get in touch with me please email geraldine@praxismakesperfect.co.uk or use our contact page.

Qualifications
Post-graduate Certificate in Research, Bristol University.
Post-graduate Certificate in Strategic Management, Bristol University.
M.Sc.Econ. Social Development Planning and Management, University of Wales, Swansea.
B.Sc.Econ. Development Studies (Hons) University of Wales, Swansea.
B.Soc.Sc. Sociology, Social Administration, Social Work (Hons) University College Dublin.

Prince 2 practitioner.

Trained in both quantitative and qualitative research and data analysis methods.