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Widening Participation in Leaders for Leeds

Leaders for Leeds provides opportunities for anyone who is looking to help make progress in the city to connect with each other.  We have dropped into a routine of breakfast network meetings that work well for some but that exclude others.

Therefore we are keen to see how we might be able to develop a  schedule of meetings that engages as widely as possible and helps unusual suspects to meet!

Some of us are therefore holding a meeting to look at how we can influence the development of Leaders for Leeds so that it becomes more accessible to all who are pushing for change in the city and reflects the agendas of all of us – not just the institutions with board rooms, budgets for croissants and policies to pursue!

Following a bit of an online poll to see who is interested in talking and when they might be able to make a conversation I am suggesting that we can meet:

  • This afternoon, Tuesday 28th May from 4-6pm in The Victoria Pub behind the Town Hall (28 Great George St  Leeds, West Yorkshire LS1 3DL) and/or
  • Thursday afternoon 30th May from 2-4pm in Brewbar underneath the Tiled Hall Cafe

All I can promise is that I will be there for both slots – with my ears flapping and happy to answer questions where I can.

I will also undertake to offer more/different ways to join the conversation in the coming weeks and months….fellow collaborators welcome!

See if you can join us for a conversation  – or just leave your thoughts in the comments below.

10 Responses

  1. Becky Malby

    I thought the point of leaders for Leeds was reciprocity and generosity. Hosting a breakfast because you have the benefit of a space and can pay for breakfast is in this spirit. It doesn’t exclude anyone. In fact anyone can come with an issue to Leaders for Leeds. The royal bank of Scotland are hosting a breakfast where one of the cities fledgling soc ents has asked to pitch for some help with the network. So yes it often suits those with space to offer breakfast when that’s pace isn’t in use for meetings but certainly at CIHM we have offered colleagues space if they want to organise a L4L meet at another time of day. This message feels like those of us who have been contributing in good faith with an open spirit are seeking to exclude others. I can honestly say that’s not the case. hopefully anyone interested in L4L can join your meeting even if they have boardrooms and can buy croissants

    1. Hi Beccy,
      Whilst I understand the difficulties involved in trying to get all of Leeds Leaders involved, your statement that breakfast meetings don’t exclude anyone is incorrect. I know it’s not a wilful act of exclusion, but 8 o’clock meetings are simply not accessible to some Of us. I’m interested in a dialogue around how we include this fact, not in debating whether it’s true or not!

  2. Paul Burr

    Mike, I’m with Becky on this one. There’s no exclusion to turning up to the L4L events. I can understand that you see the potential of the group of individuals who turn up, some of the things that could be achieved.
    Point is Mike, here’s a group that are part of the ‘system’ as it stands at the moment, as it has always been in some form or another – The Great and The Good as I’ve heard them called – they are doing what they’re supposed to be doing, working in, supporting, and being paid by the public purse to run the system.
    The exclusion isn’t at the door of CIHM, it’s much further away, it’s at the queue at the food bank. It’s much more important to get the food for your family than to spend some money to come and eat croissants.
    What you’re asking of these people Mike is something that they’re either not allowed or too fearful to achieve…… ‘Success for a better community in Leeds’. The very best this group can do is to give a list of things that need to be taken into consideration and receive back a good word on the website. No one is here to say “OK, lets do it, lets see how far we can take an idea, see what happens see how we have to overcome the things we’ll fail at”.
    Take a really close look at the ‘mind map’ on the wall at CIHM, the word ‘FAIL’ isn’t on there.
    With all due respect to you, you’re asking a group of people to do something that they’re not allowed to do. They’re doing what they do, List of procedures, get on with it, Next. The exclusion comes in some form elsewhere in the ‘system’ when you’re going through the list.
    The system needs local poverty, it needs the unemployed, it needs an increase in mental health issues in order to grow and be healthy. There’ll be a load of reasons to undermine this statement – none spoken from a person who relies on a food hand out though.

    1. Mike Chitty

      Not sure that I am asking anyone to do anything Paul. I also think that the existing L4L network is a little more diverse, creative and ambitious than you seem to think. On your point about offering a list of things to be taken into consideration – this is of course an option. To put things on the agenda for others to sort out. It is not often my preferred modus operandii though. I much prefer to take personal responsibility where I can, and choosing to work with ‘the system’ or not. What can ‘I’do? What can ‘we’ do. What can ‘they’ do? I certainly see L4L as an opportunity to develop a richer picture of what ‘we’ can do as the ‘we’ becomes more diverse and intent on change.

      The point you make about the system needing inequality in order to maintain itself is of course an interesting one and books have been written on that subject.

      I think there is always exclusion present. The important thing is that when it is bought to our attention that we try to address it to the best of our ability. Certainly some people feel excluded at the moment…

      1. Paul Burr

        I think I was really trying to point out that timing of events isn’t the only thing that will deter connections and inclusion to the group.

        I think personally that the people that come to this group are really good people, I may think that they’re able to have a better outcome collectively, but hey, we’ve all got a different perspective on things, we’re all individuals after all. Choice in what we get involved in, yep, couldn’t agree more.

        I’ve been doing the development of stuff for as long as I can remember, there are some really obvious things that ‘jump out at me’, for instance – if this group could all spend time working together to develop themselves into the ‘toppermost of the poppermost’ that they could be, (I know that’d be difficult), but they’d do it quicker and have more effect if they did it in Sheffield, say. Somewhere they’d have to start afresh, build towards a model/models that had real value and impact on local community.

        ‘Turning the curve’ is an important thing to do, the one thing that connects all sectors in some form or another is the community they all engage in. Setting something up from that perspective will eventually ‘turn the curve’. Trying to set out from the complex nature that exists at the moment is probably an impossible task.

        I believe we all have value, some form or another, and I believe that there are one or two really fundamental common things that will unite all. These things will be there over time and will eventually ‘turn the curve’. Sometimes I can’t help what I believe in.

        I’m not out to knock what we’ve done so far, some bloody amazing things…. I’m thinking about defining ‘what could ‘we’ really become’ – then aim for it. I might be completely wrong here, but isn’t that what ‘leaders’ do?

        1. Mike Chitty

          Some leaders focus on a result and a plan to get there. Other leaders just focus on the process with much less of an emphasis on the goal, just a sense of direction and a decent set of instincts. The only avenue open to any of us is to ‘set off from the complex nature that exists at the moment’, but I am optimistic that even ‘starting from here’ that some progress remains possible!

          1. Paul Burr

            I agree with you regarding ‘sense of direction and a decent set of instincts’, but if I was lost in a desert I’d want a map and a compass too.

  3. Hi Mike. I think you raise an interesting challenge about how we create opportunities for people interested in leadership and making a contribution to our city to come together. Breakfast meetings will suit some and not others. Early morning starts and meetings in offices might well be off-putting but then equally will meeting in a pub in the evening be for others. So do we need to create multiple and different spaces to connect with the purpose of Leaders for Leeds, and if so, how do you ensure groups aren’t so separate that the synergies of collaboration are lost? In my view, these are interesting conversations about the evolution and development of Leaders for Leeds and shouldn’t be about knocking what developed so far. The more we can connect diverse groups of people who wouldn’t normally connect with each other the better.

  4. I think progress by L4L has been great so far: and without sterling work from Becky at CIHM and others it wouldn’t have got off the ground, so thank you so much for that, Becky and the whole CIHM team.
    However, I do think Victoria expresses the point well: we need to create multiple times and dates and venues for meetings so that we can attract a real cross-section of people to the project. We have so many assets working in developing community in Leeds who would all bring something great to the table, but to attract them we may want to add some different activities to our calendar, or “flip” the whole idea and out-reach to events they are arranging?
    I don’t feel offering ideas to be even better detracts from the hard work already put in, or dismisses people who are senior and who have been great supporters, but we know we need to identify people we find harder to hear. This is one way to do that, I hope.
    If a meeting is not a breakfast time, may we still have the cakes/pastries? They sound fantastic!!
    (Disclosure: I find breakfast meetings really difficult as I don’t have flexibility in the social care I receive.)

  5. No criticism implied at all of generosity offered so far. However a tone, a direction of travel gets set, and a set of perceptions about who L4L is actually and practically for starts to develop. If we are serious about widening participation then we need to step out of our comfort zones and into the worlds of ‘others’ in order to build different relationships.

    This is not to’ knock’ what has happened so far, but to attempt to build on it. Sincere apologies if anyone feels knocked by it.

    3 great comments by the way. In massive agreement with each of them. The challenges outlined by Victoria of running a coherent network across multiple channels are not to be underestimated. It will need enough of us who can connect across the different worlds to hold the thing together.

    Looking forward to seeing what I/we can learn from connecting differently. I suspect I will find a couple of slots this week, perhaps one in a pub and one in a space that does not sell alcohol. Will finalise timeslots and venues later today.