Pac-man, houses, trees and nets made of bacon… What does your organisation look like?

April 11, 2019

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by Julie Colman, Rural Media

The #NotWithoutMe Accelerator is an innovative development programme which provides organisations the time, resources and support from peers and experts to develop their approaches to delivering digital inclusion projects with ‘vulnerable’ young people.

In our fourth #NotWithoutMe Accelerator blog, Julie Colman from Rural Media, shares insights from our fourth workshop – ‘Influences and Eco-Systems’. 


5 ¾ hours and 3 changes on the train to talk about Influencers and Eco-Systems doesn’t sound like an especially attractive prospect …so who knew how much fun (and fabulous knowledge sharing) was in store.

The sun shone (100% track record so far – big pressure on Cardiff and Dunfermline) on the ‘Accelernauts’ in glorious Ipswich as we gathered for the fourth in a series of workshops supported by Carnegie UK Trust as part of their #NotWithoutMe digital inclusion Accelerator.

We were asked to ‘draw’ what our organisation looked like; Jarrod from Your Own Place in Norwich drew just that – a house “We deliver some of our training in a proper council maisonette that we rent. We work with young people empowering them to discover their own choices to find independence within their ‘own place’, from reading the metre to finding the fridge”. We subconsciously drew a tree with our roots deep and our branches wide – however had never really thought about our rurality in that way before. Alex from Manchester Refugee Support Network drew an open net – there to gently catch, nurture and support those who need it but open wide to let people stand on their own two feet when they are ready (and it only looked a teeny weeny bit like streaky bacon).

We were treated to a brilliant session from Vicki Shotbolt, CEO and founder of Parent Zone, who really made me think about how we engage with the parents, carers and guardians of the young people we work with – yes, we want them to be on side and support the project but do we really need them (or many other different stakeholders) to be ‘involved’ or does that just adversely affect the very thing you are trying to achieve?  The things that we would like parents to ‘do’ are varied and often very complex but by keeping things simple and knowing that it’s ok to sometimes not involve them is refreshing. For our BIG IDEA we want our parents to allow their children to be digitally engaged, to become emotionally and digitally resilient, to be given space to have a voice, to confidently celebrate their achievements, to have aspirations, choice and opportunities … our parents may just want to hear that their children will be safe. Our instinct is often to try and include all our stakeholders and key influencers in our projects – it was enlightening and reassuring to unpick that with others and realise that sometimes you can’t retain the ‘purity of the idea’ if you are trying to please everyone you’ve ever met!

Every workshop so far has given food for thought and made us consider things in a different way, all the learning shared is shared with colleagues when we get back (everyone’s always keen to know what did) (and applied to our big idea) and we are currently planning a new Arts Award* project for young people – and discussing how we will (un)involve their parents.

To find out more about the #NotWithoutMe Accelerator follow #NotWithoutMe on Twitter and you can also access our Padlet to see any resources recommended through the programme.


*We will be working with some young people aged 11-14 not currently engaged in formal education on a Traveller site in North Worcester in the new year, putting them through a Bronze Arts Award and building up some soft skills and aspirations (as well making some creative digital art)