A presentation was delivered by TD to update the reference group on the latest news about The Portway Lifestyle Centre project.
Two roundtable discussions then took place with project group representatives and reference group members.
The focus of the first discussion was:
To finalise the Terms of Reference and code of conduct for Reference group members
Identify any gaps in Reference group membership and agree actions to fill these
The second part of the session looked at:
A ‘work plan’, or activity plan of tasks that the Reference group would get involved with, and project milestones.
Roundtable discussion feedback
The Reference group were happy overall with the Terms of Reference and code of conduct, with only a few changes agreed. It was felt that a more inclusive statement should be included at the start of the ToR to ensure ‘all disability groups’ were represented.
It was also agreed that more work needed to be done to engage with existing leisure users, and that a representative to attend the group meetings, even if not all of them, would be good for building relationships with leisure users without disabilities.
It was also agreed that the objectives of the ToR should include ‘working in partnership with the Portway project team’ and the addition of a final point, which would explain about developing to be a user-led group to work with the Portway management team when the centre is built.
The ground rules needed a slight revision to take out the reference to ‘not swearing’ at meetings and replace this with ‘we will not use inappropriate language’.
It was also indentified that representation was needed from the Deaf community in Sandwell. SW advised that she had made contact with SDCA (Sandwell Deaf Community Association) who wanted to get involved, and had invited the project team to give an update at a volunteers forum in August or September.
A named contact person had also been given to be the representative in the short term. The Deaf Community will also be keeping up top date with progress on the Sandwell Leisure Trust website.
Roundtable session two
The reference group discussed AF’s calendar of activities and tasks which would be the basis for their workplan. It was also agreed that in addition to this reference group members would work with the project team to engage with organisations and special interest groups in the community to raise the profile of the Portway Lifestyle Centre.
In addition to the tasks and timescales in the activity plan, the following suggestions were raised:
SN would like to get involved with ‘Disability Action Training’ for future staff working at the Portway Lifestyle Centre.
“We have run ‘disability awareness’ courses before, but ‘Disability Action’ sounds more pro-active! It may also inspire disabled people to get involved if it is worded this way”- SN.
It was agreed that a lot of groundwork had already been done in Adult Services service area in the past, including working with user led groups, so lesson could be learned and information shared.
It was also raised that Question and Answer session may be very useful for parents of people with disabilities, to help them overcome any fears they may have, especially if their daughter or son would be leaving a traditional model of accessing a day service to attend a The Portway Lifestyle Centre.
“Parents can be protective of us and worry, even though I want to try knew things, parents need reassurance.”- S.G, Day Opportunities. Reference group members also said they wanted to have an active involvement in engagement and publicity around Portway, to help to promote confidence in the centre to the wider community, and show that it will be a welcoming place for all.
DP raised a concern that people living near to where Portway will be built may be resentful of the centre due to disruption to the existing service and building work, so every effort needed to be made to get a positive and accurate message out to the community and hold information days when building work begins.
It was agreed that the next six months of Reference Group meeting dates would be set and circulated to the group, to enable them to plan in advance and start on new work tasks.