Friday, 18 April 2014

Envision Steering Group
Campaign Skills Training Day

Last Thursday, on April 10th, the Envision Steering Group met at the RNIB HQ, at Judd Street in London, for a campaign skills training day. It was led by our co-chairs of the network, Adele and Tom, with help from the regional campaigns officers from across England. The aims of the day were to be able to think through a campaigning issue and identify a plan of action to meet the goal, have a knowledge of the five golden rules of campaigning and have confidence to guide local campaigners on campaigning techniques.

We began the session by introducing ourselves to everyone and each providing a ground rule to add to a list for us to follow throughout the rest of the session. Aims of the day and the agenda were also presented by the co-chairs of the network. After the introduction, each member of the steering group gave a small presentation regarding a different golden rule of campaigning, assigned to them before the day, briefly discussing what the particular rule is, how it can be implemented into a campaign, and giving insight into their own experiences of past campaign work.

We then moved onto a group activity, led by the regional campaigns officers, and divided into small groups of three to plan the actions we would undertake in the example scenario given to us. I worked with Fran, from the campaigns planning sub-group, and we were presented with the scenario of obstructive A-boards outside shops. We planned the process of the campaign we would undertake in this situation, incorporating the five golden rules as our framework and outline - identifying whether a campaign was needed for this issue, setting our objectives, defining the target audience, pinpointing key people and groups to involve, making links between the core aim and their interests and concerns, how we would gather accurate evidence and research statistics, how to define good timing, build solid partnerships and measure success.

After lunch, we finalised our campaign plan and jotted down notes to present to the group as a whole. Each group then gave feedback on their scenario to rest of the steering group, discussing the situation they were given and outlining the structure they would operate to meet the campaign goal.

Hugh Huddy from the campaigns team at the RNIB, who we met at the previous steering group meeting in February, then entered the room to hear some of the feedback on our campaigning scenarios and asked whether we now felt more confident after planning our first campaign outline. I must admit that I do feel a lot more self-assured and optimistic about planning a campaign action plan now, whereas before I was a little uncertain - as I had never had the chance to draft one before. Hugh gave some insight into his experiences with campaigning and shared with us that he too was nervous to begin with when it came to campaigning - so this was a relief for us to hear!

We briefly discussed the coffee shop 'mystery shopping' results, submitted from the Envision network so far, defining which areas need to be improved for accessibility (menus, staff awareness, staff training). Thinking about the activity we had just completed, we thought about the next steps we need to take now that we have gathered evidence. We also discussed the recent Business Boomers programme from the iPlayer and how we can integrate some of the things that were mentioned in it into our campaign.

It was then time to recap on the ground rules, the aims of the day, whether we had achieved everything that we planned to, and then wrap up the day's campaigning skills session. The Envision steering group will be having 2 teleconferences on the 28th and 29th of April to recap on the day in London and the next steps that we want to take with our campaigns planning.

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