Sara Whitehouse, Communications and Engagement Officer, Sandwell Council.
As you know work is under way on the old Oldbury Leisure Centre site, and there are more upcoming activities and opportunities to work closely with the officers responsible for making the centre accessible for everyone.
A bit about us
My role is to facilitate meetings and link you in with the types of activities you want to work on. Think of me as the reference group facilitator! I'm hopefully here to make your role easier, and ensure you get any support needed to participate in the group. This can mean arranging information in preferred formats, making an interpreter booking, running around with a suggestion box, and changing meeting times and venues if the group think this needs looking into.
Janice Philips, who has an important development role in the Portway project, will work with you to ensure you have a real voice at all levels in the project, and make sure you are heard! She will make sure you receive feedback about what has happened as a result of our workshops and suggestions you have made, negotiate on your behalf, and come back to you to explain if there are things that sometimes can't be achieved, and explain why.
The countdown has started!
During the next year or so, there are various milestones in the project that we have to achieve. Some are set by the Department of Health to make sure we are doing what we set out to do. At these times we need to do more work, and wish to invite you to longer meetings to make sure we can carefully listen and record your views.
We want to support you to set the agendas and activities or chair the meetings if you wish.
In our agreed terms of reference, we said the reference group should become more independent over time, to give you even more influence and a stronger voice than ever. However, we will continue to support and facilitate meetings until the Portway Lifestyle Centre is open, and make sure we support you as group to choose how you would like to develop after that.
Supporting your work
We have looked over the notes from our meetings from October 2011 to February 2012, and will meet with your strategic group representative, Saeed Nasser, and your communications representative when confirmed, to set out a framework for each meeting over the next year. This will be flexible, as you may want to add areas for discussion and suggest ways to improve our meetings. However, it will give you a good understanding of areas we need to work on and help us all plan ahead. Before each full meeting of the reference group, the four of us will meet again to plan the workshops and make sure we have carried out actions agreed at the previous meeting.
Activities and Opportunities
Janice and I will co-ordinate tasks to take part in outside the reference group meetings. This may mean attending some additional meetings or doing some work within your own organisation. We want you to choose what you work on. Everyone has different skills, work commitments and time they can give.
Your involvement is flexible, and you must never think that you need to do more work than you feel able to do.
Remember...keep up to date with Portway, including new photographs or how the building work is progressing, by visiting the Portway Lifestyle Centre