Giving communities a voice
An innovative project to give often-marginalised groups the skills to make their own voices and views heard like never before has won praise from MPs, councillors and HRH The Princess Royal – and it’s already making a difference.
‘Getting on Board’ was designed as an innovative public/private sector venture, including Dods, specialists in political and communications training; Kent Skills Plus; the Avenues Group, and Community Futures, Kent.
Dods’ policy and communications experts, 13 MPs, and 17 local councillors worked alongside 65 delegates in increasingly lively and highly practical sessions, covering community involvement, Parliament and voting, local lobbying, effective messaging and presentation skills.
But the learning didn’t stop there. Such was the delegates’ desire to continue learning that more than 40 participants, many with support staff, made the challenging trip to central London. Thanks to Dods’ involvement, they visited both No 10 Downing St and the Houses of Parliament, where they took part in an eloquent question and answer session, discussing their personal experiences with members of the All Party Parliamentary Disability Group.
Tony Shaw, Director of Development at Dods Training, said: "We recognise what a crucial initiative this is and are delighted to play a small part in something that can make such a big difference to people’s lives."
The partnership’s work has already been showcased at a central London event, attended by HRH The Princess Royal. But the real success sits with the stories of those who attended the events.
One course member, James, from Tonbridge, Kent, was diagnosed with dyspraxia at the age of two; he signed up, wanting to be more confident when speaking in a group. After attending ‘Getting on Board’, James applied to Kent Police to join his local Independent Advisory Group, and has just been accepted – a major personal achievement. And the other delegates are signing up in their local areas to make a difference, too.