The latest issue #43 of the ICA:UK network newsletter is online today - download it from ICA:UK Network News.


ICA:UK has teamed up with ACEVO to offer a workshop as part of ACEVO's Survival Workshop Week, 28 March to 6 April 2011.

The week of workshps are designed to equip voluntary sector Chief Executives and their senior managers with practical tools and tips to successfully run their organisation and deliver their charitable aims.

ICA:UK's workshop is titled "Practical Tips & Tools to Develop Your Capacity for Participation and Partnership Working".  In this new era of collaboration and partnership, new skills and tools will be required to enable people to work together more effectively, within and between organisations and communities. The workshop will demonstrate a proven and powerful approach to facilitating creative thinking and consensus decision-making in groups, and enable participants to share their experience and learn from others - on what is working already, and on what will be needed in the future.

For full details & bookings for this and all 28 workshops, visit ACEVO's Survival Workshop Week.

What will it take it to develop capacity for collaboration and facilitation that can realise the benefits of Big Society and mitigate its risks?

Follow the lively discussion prompted by this question on the Big Society group at LinkedIn

Participation, involvement, engagement, collaboration – matters close to my own heart, and at the heart of the Big Society according to most commentators, it seems.

I am prompted to raise this question after reading that Nat Wei’s next blog post will address the challenge of how to encourage participation - see

The way I see it, as I commented on his January 3rd post, too many people feel alienated and powerless to make a difference in their communities and workplaces. Also, too many leaders, at all levels in communities and organisations, are frustrated in their efforts to involve and empower others because they lack ways to do this effectively. Too often they are even unaware that there are methods and skills that can help them, which they can learn.

There is a great deal spoken & written about participation, engagement, involvement etc. in relation to Big Society, but as yet (as far as I am aware) little recognition of the risks associated with poor practice or a lip service approach to participation; or of the benefits to be gained (for the poor and vulnerable, and for society at large) by participation facilitated ethically and competently; or of how capacity might best be developed at scale for more effective participation and partnership working, if the benefits of the Big Society are to be realised and the risks averted (see, for example,

I hope to read Nat Wei’s thoughts on this in his next post - but I’d welcome your thoughts as well now.

I am Chief Executive of ICA:UK, the participation & development charity, and also Chair of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF). On the ICA:UK website you’ll find details of ICA:UK seeks to address these challenges, including an upcoming opportunity to meet and discuss the issues in person at our annual conference and AGM, in Manchester on January 22nd, on the theme of Building Strong Communities Through Participation. All are welcome - details at IAF’s Code of Ethics and Core Competencies for facilitators can be found at

CIPFA Finance Advisory Network

ICA:UK has teamed up with CIPFA's Performance Improvement and Finance Advisory Networks to offer a pair of workshops, in London on February 10th and in Leeds on March 2nd.

Participatory budgeting involves engaging voluntary and community groups in decision-making and resource allocation. Originally developed in Brazil, it has been piloted on a relatively small scale in the UK over recent years, but is set to become increasingly popular over coming years as the Government seeks to implement its ‘Big Society’ and ‘localism’ agendas. Not only does it aim to increase citizen engagement, but advocates of the approach also argue that it can improve services and reduce costs, since local people are likely to know what particular approaches or services would work best in their communities.

These workshops will cover the main principles behind participatory budgeting and highlight the key lessons that can be drawn from those organisations that have adopted it so far. They will also give delegates the opportunity to identify some key facilitation skills that will be necessary to engage with and support voluntary groups in making budgetary decisions.

To download the full programme and book online, please visit the CIPFA Networks website.

ICA:UK is pleased to announce that Chief Executive Martin Gilbraith has assumed the post of Chair of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) for 2011 & 2012.

_iaf_logo2IAF is the foremost professional organisation for facilitators in the world, and is dedicated to growing facilitators and encouraging the use of group process methodologies world-wide. It was formed by a group of professional facilitators seeking an avenue for interchange, professional development, trend analysis and peer networking.

Amelia Lee of ICA:UK has just reviewed a book on Community Work in Nordic Countries.  To read the review go to page 95 of Youth and Policy available here

Children and Young People Now reviewed the new book 'What is Youth Work?' this week, which features a chapter co-authored by Amelia Lee, ICA:UK's Youth Participation Programme Manager. The review commented on that fact that 'old favourties such as participation and partnership read fresh and relevant for today's youth work environment'. Just up our street!

We are looking for a skilled and/or experienced volunteer to work with us to produce and develop our regular newsletter, as our key means of communicating with our members & other supporters.  For details please see our vacancies page.

BOOK NOW!  ICA:UK's Annual Conference & AGM:


Building Strong Communities Through Participation - Saturday 22nd January 2011, at Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester (Didsbury Campus).

For full details, please see the most recent programme and download the invitation & booking form (pdf) or invitation & booking form (MSWord).

If you can't attend yourself (or even if you can), please consider making a donation to support a young person to attend - each young person's bursary place costs ICA:UK £25.  To donate online, visit our GiveNow page, and please be sure to note "AGM bursary".

Places are limited and advance booking is essential - with queries, or to book, please call or email Clare Vermes.

We look forward to having you with us!


ICA:UK Chief Executive Martin Gilbraith is pleased to have become an Associate of the Centre for Public Service Partnerships.

The Centre for Public Service Partnerships at the Local Government Information Unit (CPSP@LGIU) is an independent research and policy and practice centre. It undertakes independent research, policy development and consultancy on public service strategic commissioning, productivity, performance and governance with a specific interest in partnerships between public agencies and between them and the business and third sectors. The Centre contributes to the development of policy and practice and works with the public, business, third and academic sectors.

Too many people feel alienated and powerless to make a difference in their communities and workplaces. Also, too many leaders, at all levels in communities and organisations, are frustrated in their efforts to involve and empower others because they lack ways to do this effectively. Too often they are even unaware that there are methods and skills that can help them, which they can learn.

ICA:UK responds to these challenges in its work with people from all walks of life, from top leaders and senior managers within organisations and partnerships to some of the most vulnerable and disadvantaged in local communities, both at home and abroad.

What we do is to demonstrate what is possible by using tried and tested approaches to help people work more effectively, with each other and with others, to bring about the kind of change that they want to see in their own situations. We do this by using our methods, skills and experience to design and facilitate processes that help people to understand each other and their situations better, to find creative new solutions to difficult problems, and to make plans together in a way that everyone feels committed to making them happen. We also train and consult with people to support them to use these approaches themselves in their own situations, and with others in theirs. We also partner with others to design and deliver projects to promote and support these ways of working, and to develop and test new approaches. We use the same facilitative approach in how we plan and manage our own work within ICA:UK, and with the many associates and partners that work with us to deliver our services to others.

Our services are open to all, but particularly tailored to reach and to impact on sectors in which we have particular interest and expertise, and in which we have established relationships with partners and clients. These sectors, and the outcomes that we aim to achieve in them, are outlined in terms of seven strategic aims. The outputs that we intend to deliver within each strategic aim are detailed in a separate Monitoring Framework.  A separate Marketing Strategy outlines how we intend to connect and communicate with these sectors.

As we mobilise the necessary resources, and work to achieve these outputs outcomes and, we are also working to grow ICA:UK and strengthen our relationships - in order to improve our sustainability and resilience as an organisation, and so to secure long term capacity to carry out our mission and embody our values.

For an overview of our new 3-year strategy for 2010-13, please see our actvities.

ICA:UK, 41 Old Birley Street, Unit 14, Manchester, M15 5RF // Tel: (+44 (0)161 232 8444) // Email:
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