Voice is a discussion-based tool for community groups and networks to assess and improve the influence they have on agencies and partnerships. It is appropriate for small, large, newly formed and well established groups, as well as those with paid or unpaid members. It is designed to help you to: determine your current position of influence, map how influential you are and consider how you can become more influential.

Voice has a vertical axis which identifies 10 steps to influence, for example

  • Want to influence; 
  • Organise to influence; 
  • Link with others to influence and then 
  • Influence! 

Community groups and networks can discuss and debate each of these in turn, agreeing their position. Each step has indicators to help groups and networks determine where they are situated on the vertical axis. 

The horizontal axis of Voice is quite simply a continuum representing the degree of influence that groups or networks feel they have. This could range from ‘no influence’ to ‘a lot of influence’. It provides an opportunity for groups and networks to make a judgement about how influential they are - based on the knowledge they have at any given point.  

Voice encourages groups and networks to think about the things that can stop them from being influential no matter how organised they are. It is about the context they are working in - the political landscape, the ‘real world’.

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

Voice facilitator training

Through the Take Part Pathfinder 33 facilitators have been trained to use the Voice framework with community-based groups. The two day training courses took place in November 2009 and June 2010, attended by people working or volunteering in the Black Country or any of the Take Part Regional Champion areas in the West Midlands. In addition Wolverhampton Voluntary Sector Council (WVSC) are hosting a further two day training course in February 2010, enabling the Pathfinder support more facilitators from the Black Country to be trained.

Feedback from Voice facilitator training:

'It opened up the concept/idea of what Voice is about and could be about. I Acquired new learning and knowledge. Learnt a lot about myself in terms of discipline and control amongst other strong, passionate, vocal people'

‘I feel inspired and equipped – really enjoyed both days’

'Some of the best facilitation I've experienced. An excellent demonstration of the value of co-facilitating and practical research in practice. I was really impressed that the days started and finished on time with good breaks. A really brilliantly mixed group too'

Facilitator support

All Voice 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 Voice facilitators group on this site has 46 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 Voice 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: