Staple Hill workshops
The Staple Hill team is currently planning and organising our first workshop. Preparing for a workshop is a multifaceted process: There are practicalities to take care of: Pens, flip charts, food for attendees. There is the venue for the workshop. Ours will be in Staple Hill library, to be convenient to older residents living in the area. The layout of the venue has to be considered: Will attendees be subdivided into groups, in order to have manageable discussions groups? What will the layout of the tables be?
Then there are the people to invite. For our study we are inviting a mix of residents and also various ‘experts’ who have connections to Staple Hill, or older people, or happiness. Of course, the residents are themselves valued experts in their own lived experience.
One of the key elements of the workshop is deciding what activities are used to prompt discussion. At our workshop we will be using exercises that employ post-it notes and sheets of paper as attendees enter a messy but hopefully vibrant process of defining key concepts, and uncovering Staple Hill as it experienced by older people. Our approach is to allow the workshop to get a little bit ‘messy.’ Hopefully the activities will allow free and creative thinking.
Workshops also need facilitators. Ours for instance will require four people to facilitate small group discussions and four scribes, to note down what people say. Both these activities, particularly the former, require some skill, in order to ensure that everyone who wishes to contribute can do so, and that their ideas are recorded smoothly.
All of these components of workshops have to be organised and correctly placed in order to achieve research aims and provide attendees with a stimulating and thought-provoking experience. Our first workshop aims to explore the issues for older people in Staple Hill, make contact with some residents, explore ideas around happiness, and potentially consider ways Staple Hill could be a better place for older people. As well as requiring a good deal of organising and thought, workshops can be interesting events. When group dynamics are right they can be energised experiences bringing together strangers to talk about important issues. Our hopes are that our first workshop will shape our subsequent walking interviews with Staple Hill residents.