Blue spark shape

Round One - continued monitoring learning and reflections

27.09.22 By Beth-Louise Sturdee

Yellow spark shape

We have recently been reading, listening and learning from the subsequent progress updates sent in Summer 2022. In this blog we look at some of the key headlines of the emerging learning's as the projects and relationships develop.

In April 2022, we published this blog to share progress reflections from the first round of monitoring feedback received from both community groups and researchers.

We have recently been reading, listening and learning from the subsequent progress updates sent in Summer 2022. In this blog we look at some of the key headlines of the emerging learning's as the projects and relationships develop.

Project Logistics

  • Scheduling and time commitments - in February we heard about the logistical challenges of communication and planning between community groups and researchers. At this second reporting point, scheduling and balancing other commitments of all involved has been a challenge in the delivery phase, including now navigating participant logistics too, which has had some impact on delivery and momentum.
  • Flexibility - projects are still finding that flexibility in the delivery of their work is essential, both from within the partnership but also from The Ideas Fund as a funder. Things have taken more time and needed to move at a more realistic pace for those involved. In the most successful partnerships, this flexibility and change is being jointly negotiated.
  • Communication - communication continues to be an area of negotiation in the partnership, due to differing styles, comfort zones and technology. However, this negotiation is often noted as providing learning for all involved.
  • Connecting with new communities - challenges have arisen where community groups have been trying to build connections to a new community, demographic or group as part of their project which has created additional complexities to getting projects off the ground. In the second round of The Ideas Fund, we have focused on groups who could evidence a strong existing connection with their community or participant group.

The Partnership - we asked both researchers and community partners how the relationship was going, and the potential for this partnership to change their work.

  • Researcher alongside - involvement of the researcher from the beginning and face to face engagement has been cited as enabling trust, builds relationships and supports the researcher to more deeply understand the changes taking place.
  • Depth of relationship - related to this, in some reports there was a clear theme around the vulnerability and humanity of the researcher, and a sense across the partnership of looking after and out for each other as people.
  • Researcher as critical friend - several projects spoke about the ways in which they are feeling able to tap into the expertise of their researcher. The reflective skills and critical thinking for researchers provided a useful sounding board, sometimes acting as a critical friend or being able to support deeper thinking about their work.

Learning And Impact

  • Researcher learning - one common area of practice that researchers have noted they want to adapt is their teaching, for example organising more field trips with students. One researcher now wants to develop more interactive material in their teaching practice after observing creative facilitation techniques in the community group. Others highlighted they are learning to be more creative in their approaches to data collection, influencing other research funding applications. One researcher noted ‘The project has completely changed my understanding of how knowledge exchange works’ seeing the project as a useful testing ground for developing new ideas.
  • Pride and agency from co-produced work - there is a sense of ownership, achievement and agency from participants in what they have created. Having control over the direction, content and action of the work has been a fundamental ingredient in participants feeling safe to join in. Positive outcomes from co-produced work have included increased confidence, improved well-being, a connection to support and an appetite to take action.
  • Partnership fostering further connection - we have heard from some researchers and community groups that their partnership is leading to an exchange of opportunities within each other’s wider networks, partnerships on new funding bids and development of new ideas.

We are continuing to collect learnings from projects funded by The Ideas Fund through conversations directly with projects and via our Development Coordinators based in each region. We are also conducting programme monitoring through our work with our Learning Partners - The Liminal Space and Social Change Agency.

If you would like to chat with one of The Ideas Fund team about the learnings, please get in touch at