«A. Telephone Interview 1 Particularly interested in: “Input/consultation on campaigns and materials planning/design” Found the discussion group ...»
I'm not asking FoE to start doing campaigns on every single issue that is mentioned in 'Tomorrow's World', because as is repeatedly said to us (and I agree) this would dilute the effectiveness of the campaigns FoE does. However, I think enough staff are needed in all campaign areas to be able to pass on information about the current best way to achieve the sustainable development aims (in relation to what is happening in politics and the real world), to be able to spot when big campaigns are needed in their area, to give informed comment to the media in reaction to their issues in the news (demonstrating our broad knowledge base and wider understanding of the problems than climate change campaigners), to input into regional and national policy and advise local groups on inputting into relevant local policy.
And I think FoE needs to be better at explaining the big picture to the public and local groups so we can all see clearly what we are aiming for and what needs to be done - and local groups will naturally fill in the gaps between what FoE is doing.
P.S. The other thing I worry about is whether the approach we take a lot of the time of 'get the public to do something small, then they'll be more prepared to do this next thing' is actually right. I'd like to know whether an SD approach would work better, as we are not getting there fast enough at the moment. I've read stuff saying this (piecemeal approach and appealing to things like 'save money') can never work - e.g. the WWF report 'Meeting Environmental Challenges: The Role of Human Identity' that I discussed with you last conference.
C. Comments by email from potential telephone interviewee who preferred to respond by email Hallo Neil, Ollie, Further to our conversation a few days ago, I've had a few more thoughts.
What I would like to see is a much better feedback to those participating in any sort of action whatsoever on the results of the action.
I've addressed it to you as well, Ollie as 1) I don't want you to feel that I'm saying things behind peoples' backs and 2) I'm not personally criticising you or at least I don't intend to. What I am citing are just examples of what I think could be improved, in one way or another.
I realise that FOE is overstretched, a lot of things are going on and a lot of things get pushed by the wayside, but it would be nice to find out what your efforts have achieved.
But if you are volunteering, (and not actually receiving any money for what you are doing!) then your only motivation, or personal gain, is a satisfaction that your efforts have been worthwhile and that you have actually achieved something. And it would be nice to know that! Am I the only one to think this??
Don't forget that most members of staff have been volunteers at some point in time, and that FOE is dependent on volunteers!
Two things spring to mind at the moment (there was a third, but I've forgotten it for the moment)!
The "Join the Moovement Campaign" at the start of this week:
I take it the whole action was a bit of an experiment, and partly for that very reason it would have been nice to know, for example what the hit rate on www.jointhemOOvement.com was, the opportunity to share a bit of feedback on how it went while the action was still fresh in peoples' minds. probably not a meeting as people were returning in dribs and drabs, and as almost all were staff, as far as I could see, they had other things to get on with.
But some sort of a forum would have been good so that feedback could be pooled, or at least a round email on how succesful it was, or not. This may have gone to staff on the FOE intranet. As I'm not on it, I don't know - I'm just guessing!
Basically, I feel there should be a culture established to inform participants of the results, successes (or otherwise, and frankness about this please. Sometimes I feel the general tone of Change your World is rather too patronising in the sense that we are fed infos to keep our spirits up - a bit dumbing down at times. (I don't think I'm expressing myself clearly here, but sorry - I've got to go and work!
Were due to have a discussion event in area but didn’t have one.
Involvement with FOE as a whole.
Recently tried to get group to input on future campaigns. They felt it was too unstructured a request. Have lots of ideas on local stuff but didn’t have ideas on bigger picture national stuff. It’s hard for people to engage constructively in things that are general. Don’t know or care how FOE operates, haven’t been to UWS etc. They are happy to support campaigns and shape things locally but in terms of FOE as an organisation or its campaigns they are not interested in it. There is some frustration amongst them at times though, sometimes they feel divorced from FOE.
They feel quite independent. Not in a rebellious way. They just feel that they’d leave if they didn’t like it. They feel what they do is important and they feel motivated. They are happy to take part in national stuff though.
As coordinator, interviewee has a much better idea of how things work.
Did feel disappointed when Andy did online questions. Wanted to ask about the RCC post being removed. Felt the question was ignored and they now feel powerless. They feel that people don’t listen. Not so much that they didn’t like the answer that they didn’t feel like they got an answer. Would have been OK with a reasoned answer, did feel privileged with being able to ask.
Also feel personally the same way – that there are plenty of ways to make your voice heard but no evidence that it’s heard or responded to.
Been a coordinator for about 8-9 years. Don’t feel like knows all the different ways to make her voice heard. Might do more if there was something sufficiently important. Not always the top priority for her though.
Support for groups Skills, training etc demands a time commitment from groups as well as staff. Time is a bit of an issue. It’s helpful to have but wouldn’t take every opportunity that there is though. Bringing training to the group sometimes would be helpful, although understand that may be difficult. Eg if there’s a work shop at UWS on media skills but no one wants to go all the way to London it would be good to have someone come and spend an evening with them in their group to do the training there. Would possibly do something a bit closer but it can be hard to get people out to stuff.
Happy to get lots of information and then decide what to read. Not bothered about us trying to manage the information.
There was some work on a county network with ND. Got lots of help initially but not heard from ND for a while now and nothing really lifted off. Interviewee did lots of emailing and didn’t get responses from people in the network.
When ND’s in touch it’s helpful. The network’s just another meeting so probably didn’t seem worth it to people. More helpful would be regular email contact maintained between the groups.
What do you think of the campaigns?
They vary. Some they feel more passionately about than others. Feel motivated by food chain for example.
Didn’t think much of some of the ideas. For example the Pinnata was strange. Went in a chicken costume instead.
The Copenhagen Halloween thing was too frivolous. Quite happy to do a bit of everything.
Group understand what’s trying to be done and they see that as suggestions. They don’t feel bossed around in to it and on the whole find the suggestions helpful. If they were less formal or as they are it doesn’t matter a great deal.
They do it in the way that works for them.
What do you think of postcards. Happy with them, public like them, MPs like them, they work well, they are good to use, they make you look Kosher, people are happy to use them.
Do you feel like the local campaigning is recognised and valued? When ND was in a more active stage he was good at getting things mentioned in the newsletter. Yes, it feels valued. If felt it was being ignored, would make an effort to make sure people know.
Summer postcarding is helpful timing – good to think of things as working on the streets.
Days of Action timings are better now. Get enough notice these days.
Do you enjoy it? Yeh. Wouldn’t do it if we didn’t.
One other things – Was very sad that funding was withdrawn from education. It’s a backward step.
Expressed in advance a particular interest in: “How to input to national campaign planning as a local group member / training (quality of)” We have one main sort of campaign and one that’s different. Ones that follow a theme (Big Ask, Moovement, Copenhagen etc). They are different to Get Serious as that has a dual element – national and local (and also the fact that some groups are already doing the sorts of local initiatives work on energy, transport, SD etc that related to this) The one she had the most problem with is Get Serious. When the Big Ask happened no one was looking ahead. Get Serious got off to a shaky start. One of the problems was that somewhere along the line, despite an advisory group (just one or two meetings then nothing in 7 months before the launch). When it was launched, when they thought it was focused on fuel poverty, it actually focused on jobs. It wasn’t an issue round there. Fuel poverty is an issue. It had taken a new route which couldn’t be used at all. Resources permitting, they perhaps needed a choice on what to press release. The press releases were highly unsuitable for a two tier authority – their group covers two boroughs which have no responsibility for employment as such. Seems to be more relevant to metropolitan and unitary areas.
The county maybe had a relevance to it, but not their area. The press wouldn’t have been interested and the group wasn’t and they were doing fuel poverty anyway. One size doesn’t fit all.
Big Ask, Copenhagen and Food Chain are a bit one size fits all but that’s not such a problem as the objective and ask are national and international.
Can’t remember being on any other campaign advisory groups. Don’t personally think that an individual should be on more than one campaign advisory group. Has declined other offers for that reason. Sees the advisory groups as different to the campaigner networks consultation group interviewee was on.
Expectations of advisory group: Had quite a few staff at it and was a full on meeting in Islington. Wasn’t sure what they were trying to get out of them. Found the difference in skills of group members present quite marked. Am quite a “techy” campaigner compared to others and tend to approach things in a fairly focused way. Thought they’d be asked what they thought and don’t recall that coming over. There was an assumption that they weren’t already doing some of this in their areas, which was inaccurate. The advisory group, again, was one-size-fits-all. Maybe staff should be better at identifying people to go on to it – perhaps a technical advisory group and a campaign one would have helped.
One some things, like promoting renewable at the local level, there is probably more knowledge and skill in the groups than in staff. There is real expertise and knowledge in the groups network.
There is a huge amount of knowledge and expertise in the groups and it could be being used to develop policy etc which is being ignored. E.g. a member of the group is a member of the institute of waste. Wouldn’t put her on the Waste list though. A Directory would be good (explained existing idea).
There is a case for some people to write briefings too. Could go through a review panel too, but their skills and qualifications are enormous in places. Another group contact gets used as he was Director of Energy for all. If he was an ordinary member and not a board member he’d maybe not have been approached though.
This would work for people that have newly retired people in particular.
Has a group member that’s interested in energy savings in the private rented sector. Been trying to find something for her to get her teeth in to. Are going to try to draw her in to that but only stumbled across Dave Timms’ work. There is another related issue that Dave needs to know too.
Expert group members are also well networked.
It’s been chance that she came across Dave’s work. It could have been missed.
Is there a mechanism in putting out requests for help from the groups network? Could put a small groups of professional experts together on an email list to go out to when help is needed (waste experts, lawyers etc).
GET SERIOUS LISTThe great thing is that it’s had staff on it. It’s been activists and staff. Staff are getting a little less interested and staff responses are slower. The question below from Vicky has had not response for example. What the list has brought home is that the staff are so busy that they don’t know what the staff are doing. Dave Powell’s telecom on X was fascinating and explained to them that they’d been doing all sorts of things (Seminars for local authorities etc) that they didn’t know. Staff sound like they are asking for things a lot of the time and there’s little explanation of what staff are doing. From the top down, it would help to know and they’d feel more empowered if they know what campaign staff were doing.
A regular staff log would be great.
Haven’t heard from some campaigners for months and never hear from some others.
ANOTHER ISSUEThere are only two or three groups in the county. Have been banging on for ages if had better integration with national supporters. Eg RCC phoned about County Climate work. Said “the only thing is that you could take a petition to a county with thousands of signatures.” Would be doable if could network and integrate with national supporters.
No good at asking them to work on local issues. We need to find a way of integrating better. No way of emailing all the national supporters in the area. Ideally would like to contact national supporters as when they want to. Accept they’d need to opt in to it. Don’t believe the snail post version is the only and best way to do it.
TRAINING A system with traffic lights and coding, with a range of training on skills and campaigns at different levels for different peoples. Intro, Intermediate and Advanced groupings. Graded system for training.