Helen Smith, Director of Improvement and Consultant Forensic Psychiatrist and National CD for MH Safety Improvement Programme Devon Partnership NHS Trust, is one of our Spread Academy faculty and will be helping deliver ‘Skid Row’ training with the Billions Institute from the USA to our first Spread Academy group in March. She recently joined her colleagues to get a taste of ‘Skid Row’ and here are her personal reflections on what delegates can expect.
It is unusual not to find myself absent-mindedly reaching for my mobile phone to fiddle with during a training session, but this incredible learning opportunity grabbed my attention from the very start.
The values that underpin the Billions Institute were evident throughout this experience, whether that be getting stuff sorted beforehand, Becky Margiotta’s presentation style, the course content and the ‘all teach, all learn’ thread that ran through the four days.
An important part of this course involved helping us to reach deeply into our own belief systems and motivations so that we could stop and think about what really makes us all tick. This process allowed us to better understand how we could use our “authentic selves” to deliver the change we want to make.
We were introduced to a variety of tools and techniques to help us structure and organise our teams and ourselves to deliver our large scale changes. Many of you will have taken part in the Mr Potato Head challenge. As a veteran constructor of this little plastic man, I was surprised by how this exercise could be taken to new levels to help us to understand some key principles underpinning large scale change!
There was something very special about learning together with a culturally and professionally diverse group of colleagues from not-for-profit organisations based in the US, most of whom were working with vulnerable and disadvantaged individuals within their society. These ranged from working with older people, men in high security custodial environments, and families and children right at the start of life.
I found enormous value in this immersive experience. The conversations about course content and our reactions to each day ran through into our evenings and allowed us to grapple with some of the challenges we experienced to our current thinking.
I know that I would not have had such an amazing learning experience without my six fellow travellers. Each and every one of us was willing to throw ourselves completely into this work, allowing each other to see personal vulnerabilities and share life stories – a brave thing to do in such a newly formed group. This has undoubtedly helped us to rapidly build a large amount of trust within our group and bodes well for our ability to work together to develop and deliver a similar experience in the UK.
Find out more about the Spread Academy here.