Echo - Increasing openness to community influence in the public sector

Echo is framework which can help public agencies and partnerships to:

  • identify and articulate what is meant by ‘community influence’ at different levels and in different contexts
  • understand the implications of ‘community influence’ for their own organisations
  • structure responses to the Duty to Involve and similar legislation with a focus on ‘community empowerment’
  • articulate the changes in culture needed that lead to an Empowering Ideal Authority
  • place equalities issues at the centre of engagement and empowerment activities.

Click here for the Echo leaflet Echo 2 page summary.pdf
Click here for a 2 page echo case study written in summer 2010

Facilitator training

During the Take Part Pathfinder 37 officers have been trained to use the echo framework. The two day training courses took place in March and November 2010, attended by people working or volunteering in the Black Country or any of the Take Part Regional Champion areas in the West Midlands.

Facilitator support

All echo facilitators are offered a follow up day to support them in their use of the framework. They are also invited by the trainers to join a free online network at www.network.changesuk.net. The echo facilitators group on this site has 32 members, and in total 126 people have joined the site overall to share experiences, resources, photos, information, reflections, musings and information about events relating to community empowerment and engagement. The echo facilitators group area is kept up to date with resources that facilitators can use.

Pathfinder partners contributed to the first Voice and echo facilitators National Networking event hosted by Dosti and changes. This took place in Birmingham in September 2010, and attracted 40 facilitators who discussed their experiences using the frameworks and contributed thinking in relation to the promotion and development of the frameworks, locating their use in the context of the Big Society and other policy changes.

Take Part Regional Champions

Through Regional Take Part Champion funds, facilitators in other local authority areas have been trained to work with the Voice framework:

  • In Birmingham 20 officers were trained to work with echo in September 2010.
  • In Shropshire 18 officers were trained in November 2010 and an echo presentation to senior officers is scheduled for March
  • 4 officer from Solihull and 2 from Tamworth have attended the Pathfinder central training
  • Coventry and Solihull are hosting echo facilitator training in February and March 2011

Echo events in the Black Country

An event was held in March 2009 to bring together VCS and public agencies from across the Black Country to find out about Echo. The event was jointly delivered by Echo action research participants who had been working together to explore what Echo could offer their agencies as part of a West Midland Regional and Efficienty patnership funded stream of work. Click here for the report Notes from Echo dissemination event held on 31st March 09.pdf. Feedback included:

“For me it completes the circle of the Take part Pathfinder – Voice, Take Part citizenship programmes and now Echo”
“It feels like a taster – now I’d like to buy the whole meal.”
“It was really useful – now I’ll go back and argue for budget to make it happen”
“Brilliant – energy and ideas….”

In May 2009 an event was held in Dudley to promote Echo. Over 50 staff from across the Borough attended. As well as gaining an understanding of what the tool is, the session also enabled the participants to consider how Echo might be useful in their work.

In January 2010, Wolverhampton held a similar event in order to increase awareness of Echo and encourage its use throughout the city.

Echo pilots in the Black Country

Echo facilitators have been be piloting Echo in Dudley and Wolverhampton as part of the Take Part Pathfinder work. Dudley Children’s Trust, Dudley PCT Commissioners and Supporting People in Wolverhampton have been involved. For more information on the pilots please contact Lorna Prescott in Dudley and Sam Axtell in Wolverhampton.