How do we reach those people who don’t yet know they need our help?
Through our Co-Design Project at Renew Wales, we have been exploring how to have new conversations, with new people, in new ways. Arising from our explorations has been the realisation that many of those who stand to gain the most from our work (supporting groups to take enterprising action to combat the climate crisis), would not self-identify as needing it. People ‘don’t know what they don’t know’, and if someone doesn’t realise that there is something they can do, then they will never come looking for support to do it!
To address this, we explored what Renew Wales would look like ‘on tour’: rather than hosting events and inviting people to join us on our terms, we would reach out to groups, ask to join their events, on their terms, meet their members, and introduce environmental issues to their agenda. Taking place in early June to coincide with World Environment Day, ‘going on tour’ ultimately translated into visiting the virtual events of groups, but the premise still held.
We tested the concept through two takeover events:
- Our first saw us visiting the Co-production Network for Wales, a membership organisation who work to transform public services through co-production. We joined them for one of their ‘Co-pro Mondays’ sessions, where their members meet up for informal conversation built around a broad theme.
- Our second saw us join TownSq, a B-Corp who support the development of businesses, people, places and communities through entrepreneurship. We joined them as ‘an expert panel’ with one of their regular training sessions for businesses dedicated to an exploration of environmental issues.
In total, approximately 30 people participated in our two takeovers.
Whilst the Co-production Network for Wales and TownSq are organisations quite different from one another, our Takeovers turned out to have many things in common:
- Our audiences in both cases were predominantly those who had not joined a conversation about the environment before. By meeting these people of ‘safe ground’, amongst their peers, and where they were familiar, we had extended our reach in a way which wouldn’t have otherwise been possible.
- People weren’t short of things to say (even if they’d never said them before). Our audiences had many valuable ideas, insights and experiences to share with one other. One participant described the presence of Renew Wales as ‘validating’, providing the context, permission and security to talk about environmental issues freely and openly.
- Environmental issues are deeply intertwined with many others, no matter who you are. When people talk about the challenges and opportunities they face with respect to taking enterprise action to combat the climate crisis, they talk not just about their environmental expertise, but political systems, organisational cultures, business rates, financial support, communication, education and much else in between. Everyone has a stake in tackling the climate crisis, but everyone has a different way in to the conversation.
- A first conversation can light a touch paper. Neither of our events drew firm conclusions. But both helped people to build the confidence, explore ideas, ask better questions, and build an appetite to keep the conversation going. We don’t always need to know where a conversation is going in order to start it!
So, what next?
As we stop and reflect, our next task will be to reflect on what the significance of our Renew Wales Takeovers has been, how they can help us to carry our mission forward, and where we should take our tour next!
Mike Corcoran is an Associate Consultant with the Co-production Network for Wales. He is a member of the team supporting the Network’s collaboration with Renew Wales: the Co-Design Project.
The Co-Design Project is an ambitious programme of activities being delivered by Renew Wales in collaboration with the Co-production Network for Wales between November 2020 and September 2021. The project sets out to bring people together to explore how Renew Wales’ mission (of helping communities in Wales reduce their carbon footprint, adapt to the impacts of climate change and live more sustainably) can most effectively be carried forward for the long-term.