The Leicester, Leicestershire & Rutland Local Resilience Forum was formed in 2005 in response to the Civil Contingencies Act 2004 which requires specific organisations to work together to prepare, respond and recover from different emergencies. They have a vital role in assessing the risk of emergencies in the area, putting in place appropriate emergency plans, as well as arrangements to warn, inform and advise the public in the event of an emergency.
The Executive Board which leads the Forum comprises 25 members from different agencies and although they have regular meetings established, they were keen to ensure they were making the most of these, particularly in building a strategy and looking to the future more. Like many organisations they are facing challenges such as diminishing resources, organisational change and a need for increasing partnership co-ordination and wanted to ensure they were addressing these, as well as working through an operational agenda.
We proposed, designed and facilitated 2 sessions (with a 2 month gap in between for actions to be implemented) to help the Forum identify key priorities for the next three to five years and form a strategy to meet these priorities.
Key to the success of the sessions was creating the right environment, so we agreed early on that there should be an emphasis on an informal setting and a high level of participation. Simple things such as agreeing members would not wear uniform to the sessions, having “cabaret” style seating, using ice breakers to relax everyone into the sessions and moving people round to different groups for exercises all helped to create open, constructive discussion.
The sessions started by encouraging the members to review the successes of the LRF to date and we used this as a platform for agreeing further strategic goals.
We asked members to complete a SWOT analysis in preparation for the session and asked them to share their thoughts from this in small groups, before feeding back their top 3 points into the whole group. We also used De Bono’s 6 hats as a way to spark discussion, ensure everyone was able to make a contribution and to evaluate suggestions put forward.
Julia Draycon, Forum co ordinator, commented that Focal Point’s input into the planning for the sessions with her, contributed hugely to the success of the sessions, as they were so tailored to what the forum needed.
Outcomes from the sessions have included a clearer strategy to take forwards, adapting future Forum meetings to include a greater level of participation, inviting guest speakers in to talk about relevant topics and share best practice and focussing more on future planning.
Simon Cole Chief Constable said that the sessions helped the group enormously, particularly by identifying how to do things differently to really make the most of the way they work together.