Story of the Second Annual LINKS Event

Posted on by June Nye
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The second annual LINKS event went off with aplomb Monday 13 June at the Radisson Blu hotel, Glasgow. Staying with the programme title, on Monday LINKS stood for Learn, Inspire, Network, Know, and Share and is organised annually by the Links Worker Programme (LWP), ably supported by colleagues at The ALLIANCE, including those involved with the Health and Social Care Academy.

The day opened with The ALLIANCE Chief Executive, Ian Welsh, sharing the story of how the Links Worker Programme came about, through the coming together of various stakeholders, such as The Scottish Government, the GPs at the Deep End group and The ALLIANCE. Naturally each of these share a passion for rising to the challenge of working with our most deprived communities to develop solutions to the health and social challenges they face, and to begin to navigate a path towards reducing the vast inequalities that exist in contemporary society.

Ian’s story was followed by a personal story from Mother and Son, Jane and Frazer, in conversation with Community Links Practitioner (CLP) Gerry Mitchell, with whom they have been working over the past year or so. Jane spoke about how the connections she has made through Gerry have helped her to express her creativity through song and poetry in addressing mental health issues, which has led to a less frequent need to visit her GP.

Frazer explained how he has built his understanding of the link between his own mental health issues and challenges around employment, and is now indulging his passion for giving something back and gaining skills relevant to his desired career by working on a programme to become a hospital DJ at Glasgow’s Children’s Hospital, where (at the previous incarnation of which, Yorkhill), he received treatment after a childhood injury.

Jane’s poem, inspired by the CLP role, then set the scene for lightning talks from professionals active on four programmes with a similar ethos and related aims. Delegates heard short and lively, informative talks about the innovative work of Navigator Scotland, InS:PIRE and Dementia Carer Voices as well as the Links Worker Programme.

With plenty of time also built in for informal networking and visiting the organisations in attendance with exhibition stands, the rest of the day involved a choice of six workshops for delegates to attend. In the spirit of interactivity and building a greater collective knowledge base through the sharing of learning between all, each of the workshops were delivered over three parallel sessions. This meant each delegate got to attend half of these and the groups at each session were small enough to give everyone an opportunity to contribute.

Workshop deliverers included

  • The A Local Information System for Scotland (ALISS) Team
  • Neil Armstrong who has been delivering independent ‘supervision support’ on behalf of SAMH for CLPs to help ensure their own wellbeing is maintained
  • Chris Gourley who shared insight from the development of data recording and evaluation tools in place on the LWP
  • A Q&A session with ‘links workers’ from various programmes
  • The Village Storytelling Centre demonstrating the impact of using the power of stories
  • MacMillan Cancer Support who shared learning around the importance of facilitating good conversations.

Each of the above rose to the task of delivering each workshop over three separate hour long sessions and a large proportion of the audience returned to the main hall at the close of the day for a few words of introduction to the Record of Learning Series Two Modules which were launched and distributed on the day. These modules seek to capture and share the learning and insight being gained as the LWP develops, in order to render this useful for those interested in this way of working.

The energy and engagement levels apparent amongst over 200 delegates made clear that a strong appetite exists to take every such opportunity to share learning and insight from the experience of those working on, and individual’s benefitting from participating in, the LWP and similar projects.

While directly sharing useful learning and furthering a richer collective understanding amongst colleagues, the intention with LINKS is to help foster a culture of open, shared learning. Within a climate that can all too often be influenced by a competitive funding environment which can lead to useful knowledge and learning remaining within projects, such an approach is crucial. Through a commitment to such a culture we increase likelihood of the realisation of the greatest benefits within the communities where these projects work, as well as the potential for reaching into more and more communities in the future. From this may the voices, stories and songs of all of us be raised and heard…

Chris Gourley
Learning and Evaluation Officer
Links Worker Programme


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