Thursday, 27 July 2017

Changing Places Campaign

David works for Barod and is a member of Powys People First. He has been a passionate campaigner for Changing Places a project aimed at getting everyone access to bathrooms and the freedom and independence that goes with it.

you can find out more here:

Friday, 23 September 2016

Swansea really does have jargon busters

On Tuesday, we ran a game at the Swansea Behaviour Change Festival. We called it 'Swansea’s Got Jargon*-Busters'.

*Jargon: a word or phrase not used in everyday life, or that is being used with a different, special meaning. It often goes with waffling and speaking too fast.

We wanted to see if, when faced with a panel of three people with learning difficulties, people could talk for 2 minutes about their job or what they'd learned at the Festival without using jargon. If someone on the panel couldn't understand them easily, they would buzz. Three buzzes and you're out. If you are still going at 2 minutes, you got a rosette saying 'I'm a Jargon Buster'. 


  • People who took part, the panel and the observers were surprised and pleased that people succeeded.
  • Face to face communication is easier than communicating in writing.
  • Jargon is comfortable.
  • You need to know your subject to be able to explain it without jargon.
  • If you find a connection with the people, communicating ideas is easier
  • The keys were:
    • Slow down
    • Think before you speak
    • Use personal stories or comparisons to everyday life
  • Most people who took part felt pressured. Remember that feeling next time you are the one in control. It’s likely that is how the other person is feeling.

If you want to know more detail, keep reading! Otherwise, before you click away, we have something we'd like you to reflect on:
If you can only say it in jargon, maybe you don't understand it well enough to make changes and DO it.
Maybe, just maybe, learning to explain things in everyday language could break the cycle of good intentions and great policies that never quite deliver the change they want.

Feedback from the panel
  • Stories were good. There were words that would be jargon in a different context, but the context made the meaning clear.
  • Some people used jargon but immediately explained it and that was OK.
  • Some words are OK when they are spoken, but would have been jargon if they’d been written down, like ‘legislation’.
  • It feels comfortable to put professionals on the spot. Usually it’s the other way round, with professionals putting us on the spot. What you felt about pressure and it being nerve-wracking is how we usually feel when we meet you.
  • It’s a shame we didn’t buzz people more. We were too nice, and they were too good!
  • Interesting mix of people. I thought they’d all be suits. But they weren’t.
  • They had their filtering systems on overdrive. When they spoke, they were thinking and taking their time, like “I’ve got that word, no, throw it out and find another”,
  • Someone ran out of things to say because they weren’t waffling. They said what they wanted to say quicker because they used less words.
  • It’s the context. It doesn’t matter if it is the same word for different meanings if the context is clear. And if it’s jargon that includes the word ‘system’, you need to teach people in clear language what the jargon phrase means before you use it.
  • Compare the thing you want to explain to something we already understand. Someone used Swiss cheese to explain risk. Someone used eggs to explain how the environment and economy fit together.  We used what they said to explain it to someone else when we got back to the office, and they understood our explanation.
  • Consciously or not, talkers get direct feedback from the body language and facial expressions of the audience. This is something you can’t do in written info.

Feedback from observers
  • Stories worked.
  • Panel members could re-tell what they’d been told not just immediately after, but the next day. That means people communicated really clearly and engagingly.
  • People often started by assuming they would get buzzed in the first few seconds. We were surprised how many people won rosettes, and so were most of the people who won them. It showed that people are better at communicating than they (and we) think they are. 

Feedback from people who tried and succeeded (ie everyone who tried!)
  • I felt comfortable. I thought I’d done well to tell a personal story in a way that people could understand what I said.
  • The point of the game to me was that people experienced what it means to communicate effectively. As soon as it is face to face, communicating is a different story. You get instant feedback on whether you are communicating. It’s much harder to communicate with fliers.
  • The clock and the panel really made you think about it. I’m bound to go back to jargon. I really don’t want to, but I know I will resort to the shorthand of jargon because it is comfortable for me. I need a Barod app that pings up when I’m talking to people!
  • It was quite nerve wracking. I didn’t know if it made sense. When the panel were smiling, I wondered if they were just being polite. But it was fun.
  • It depends on the subject. If I go into my job in detail, I will get buzzed. It’s being conscious that if you go down one route it will inevitably send you down the route where jargon is the common language.
  • Prepare before, or know your subject sufficiently well to be able to say it without jargon.
  • It made me realise that sometimes all you understand about the thing you are explaining is the jargon, not what the jargon means.
  • Sometimes it is the safe option to stick to jargon, especially if you are a civil servant.
  • It was tense, pressured in the booth. That was part of the fun of it, to see if you can do it under pressure. It gets you thinking about it. When you get in the flow, if you slow yourself down and think about it you can say it in simple language.
  • After the game, once we went into conversation and I relaxed, I got buzzed. The game gets people really thinking about it.
  • It puts you on the spot. When you think about it, you do it. People are quite capable of doing it when you try. I’m very surprised, very pleased to get my rosette.
  • It’s comforting to slip into a world where you don’t try.
  • It isn’t always simplifying. It’s speaking to a different audience. A lot of organisations do pin badges for lanyards. How about a Barod logo badge for people who have learned to speak to different audiences?
  • It really makes you think when you know you will get buzzed for jargon. It really challenges you. It is nerve wracking.

Barod Community Interest Company

22nd September 2016

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Things to do in a coffee shop

I’m sat in Café Nero in Fforestfach. I’m drinking coffee and blogging.
I’m watching people sat alone, reading papers, staring into the distance, doing paperwork. I can see the couples sat in silence, and the couples talking. I can see the women in the window seats glued to their smart phones.
Usually, but not today, I watch a group of mothers laughing together with babies in prams, or a group of older women
Earlier today I was part of a talking couple, catching up with my husband. And then we got talking about ‘coffee shop conversations’.
That’s something I do in coffee shops as part of Barod, but not today. And it’s something I’m researching for a PhD.
Imagine, the group of mothers get talking about the local maternity service. A fly on the wall would have a field day learning by listening to them. The fly would hear all sorts of things that weren’t said at the formal consultation on the future of that service.
I did listen in to one of those conversations a few years ago in Holyhead. That’s when I realised what a wealth of problem-solving, insightful knowledge exists which policy makers and service managers don’t tap into.
And the idea for ‘coffee shop conversations’ was born.
It’s a method that lets policy makers learn from members of the public who ‘don’t do engagement’. It’s a method that lets members of public use their voice – you’d be amazed how many wish there was a magic way for ‘important people’ to know what life is like for them without them having to go to a public meeting or fill in a questionnaire. It’s a method that costs very little. And from past experience, it’s a method that leads to a wider group of people taking an interest in public life.
If you want to know what the method involves, how it works and to see one in action, come along on Tuesday 20th September to the Swansea Behaviour Change Festival

Friday, 18 December 2015

Drill Wales Roadshows

Drill Wales Roadshows- Alan Armstrong (Barod Worker)

We went to Cardiff to Disability Wales meeting. The point of the meeting was to do with research that people could put in the bids to get money for research.

How did I find the day?

I found it interesting but very long day. Some of the information they gave is okay but could have been done better it had a lot of jargon. It was very easy to talk to people in groups.
Anne’s talk about co working research was very interesting.

What next?

I think it would be good to have a day to get skills to put in a bid.
It would be good if there is a day like this. Barod could put in a bid for a research work shop so that we could have a day with people we work with and can learn how to coproduce and so that people can learn to how to put in for bids of research.
I think that we need to think about what we want to research before trying to do research work. I learnt this when I went in front of Mars research group.
I think it would be much easier and people would learn a lot from the day. I’ve done research myself and think you need to give people who do research what information they need so they could go get on with their projects of research. You need to think about what you want to do so you can think about how projects of research can be joint together with academics. They can work on talking coproducing with disabled people and people with learning difficulties and people in the past have had mental health problems. So when they are ready they can make this research work and more people will have the information they need. whatever they researching on in the future so that people will get the right knowledge of what research help is out there for everyone so that when they put in for a bid they will have the right information and they will be successful in their bid.
This covers a lot of things of research, could be everyday lives health and well-being could be about where everyday lives go pear-shaped, could be about time banking on website for academics and people with disability or on life in their communities or about people and their relationships in their lives the family and friends. Relationships could be partners, boyfriend girlfriend, marriages or could be about people’s race religion or research into how to get people back into work as people with a disability people with mental health problems in the past have in them to get back into work there could be young or old to fit back in their communities, in their local areas, in their towns and in their cities. And one day become part of the community of life so that all people mix race and people with a disability for everyone can have the same opportunity as everyone, can have opportunity of employment whatever they are from, leaving school at 16 and to whatever age all. People over 60 are still can have the same choices as everyone in UK. People from all walks of life whatever their backgrounds and wherever they are from in Europe or the UK even in the world should have no barriers and the same opportunities whatever line of work. That could be working in a supermarket working in an office too. I’m saying anyone can work however their skills their talents could be the third sector to anyone to the council and their own business to Parliament.

Drill Wales Roadshow Simon Rice (Barod Worker)

Last Wednesday, we attended a roadshow in Cardiff University regarding Disability Learning Wales. It was about people who apply for bids to do research, and what goes on in co-production workshops. I have attended many meetings before, but none of them were about the co-production between Academics and people/groups who use and provide services.

How did I find the day?

Although it was a long day, I found it quite interesting because this is the first time I’ve attended this sort of meeting/workshop and gave me an insight to what sort of work goes on in other organisations and co-production between these said groups and Academics

What next?

Hopefully, I will attend more of these meetings to gain a better understanding what works that go on as well as what will happen in the future.
I volunteer in an advocacy agency called Carmarthenshire People First and with the works I do within the agency as well as with other groups and organisations, it could be of some use to help make others understand the needs and wants of people who uses services, as well as bringing what I’ve learnt on the day back to the groups that are held within our organisation.

Sunday, 8 November 2015

You’re not ready

One worker-director’s personal journey

I value myself as an ordinary person, as a human being, and went down the route of looking for employment. I was told by Job Centre Plus that I had to seek advice from a disability employment advisor (DEA). I attended the appointment where the DEA spent the appointment on explaining how I’d never find employment. It made me feel unworthy and felt I was the problem, where the problem was they couldn’t find the appropriate employment for me because it wasn’t out there.

So the message I’m giving is it wasn’t my problem, it was theirs.

So, he sent me to supported employment agencies that he thought would suit me, and the various work placements and training came into this. I decided to knock that on the head because it made me feel ‘special’ in the shut out and stared at way. And none of it led to employment.

I’ve always remembered the Wetherspoon’s story, and that story kept me going. Wetherspoon’s was started by someone who was told by his teacher he would never succeed in business.  The teacher’s name was Wetherspoon, so that’s what the man called his first successful business. 

Now I’m the one who’s proved them wrong. I have created work for myself and other people. It just needed people who shared my vision to come together and get on with it – some of those people are now colleagues and some are from outside Barod, including the Work Choice provider I finally got myself referred to.

And, in case you are wondering, Barod isn’t the name of my old teacher but it was chosen for the same reason. Job Centre Plus said I wasn’t ready. The Disability Employment Advisor back then sent me on courses because I wasn’t ready.

Our company?

 It’s called Barod, because we are in Wales and in Welsh, Barod means Ready.  

Shared Space

Coproduction is a buzz word. It gets used a lot. And it gets used to describe a lot of things.

We always start by thinking about power and control. I guess that's because we are used to not having either, despite being told we have been given them.

So, for us, coproduction is not a new type of engagement or involvement. Engagement and involvement always rely on someone else saying you can get involved. Usually the "someone else" is your service provider, local authority or government. As long as someone has the power to choose to involve you, they can choose to stop involving you as well. Same goes for empowerment, engagement and all these other buzz words for shifting how things work between the powerful and less powerful.

The hard reality is that the "someone else" really does hold the power and control. They have the money, the influence, the professional training, sometimes even the democratic right if they were elected. As long as "someone else" holds power and control, engagement and involvement are hugely important for improving the quality of services, policies and planning.

The problem for us comes when "someone else" holds the power but believes (or pretends) that we are all working as equals and we are coproducing.

We came up with a way of trying to explain the difference between involvement and coproduction. We call it "My space, Your spaceShared space". The idea was sparked by a chance comment from Professor Catherine Robinson 18 months ago when we were trying to work out why we couldn't communicate how our vision of "team research" was different from the teams in most inclusive research.

Over the 18 months, the seed of an idea has grown into something we are ready to put out there as our contribution to the debate on the future relationship of public services and public.

Do watch the PowerPoint show, and let us know what you think.

If it makes sense but leaves you wondering how to do it, you are welcome to talk to us about workshops, consultancy and action learning sets.

If you think it's a load of cobblers as a concept or completely impractical as a practice, we'd love to hear why. We love critical friends who help refine and challenge our thinking.

Thursday, 1 October 2015

Barod at the All Wales People First Conference

Barod at the All Wales People First Conference

All Wales People First held their annual conference in Cardiff this week.
Never Mind the Politics What about Advocacy was a chance for the members to write their manifesto to campaign at the Welsh Assembly elections in 2016.

People First conferences are always really exciting and energy filled events. We've been involved in many over the years as participants, organisers and speakers.

This years event was no exception. it was full of experienced and skilled self advocates from across Wales. It's a chance for sharing ideas and recharging campaigning batteries, especially important with the tough times groups are facing.

Barod was asked to run two discussion groups talking about what it's like to be a young person with a learning disability in Wales in 2016.

Alan and Simon made a short film to talk about setting up and running the groups.