NewsBlog feature: IHBC’s ‘LETS’ Liaison Officer update – Almost a year on and 200+ prospective applicants & 5000+ in events

Derby Round House

IHBC Membership Support Seminar – Derby

Kate Kendall, IHBC’s officer responsible for supporting Branches and networks across our ‘Learning Education Training and Standards’ (LETS) agenda, updates on her IHBC work, in which she has helped advise 200+ prospective applicants and network with c.5000+ at events.

Kate writes:
Since commencing last September 2014 I have travelled around the country and visited many places I’ve never been to before and met some lovely people, members of the IHBC as well as colleagues within the wider historic environment sector. Alongside getting out and about to spread the IHBC word, one of my main roles has been supporting Affiliates by helping explain and, where needed, demystify the application process through supporting and enabling Branch-led seminars.

Branch support events
Over the year I have attended 10 events in the Branches. Amazingly there have been over 200 attendees! It has been a great opportunity for me to get out into the Branches and meet colleagues across the country.

Generally the seminars have taken place in the afternoon or into the evening, to accommodate work pressures, or tagged onto the back of other events to make the most of people attending.  The presentation has been evolved into a standard but flexible format that can work well across the very varied needs in different Branches.  The model, developed from seminars pioneered by Branches in 2013, has provided a great starting point in terms of both the presentation and establishing the format.

Today the seminar has three critical elements:

  • an overview of the membership process
  • a slot from a recent successful applicant, and
  • a short breakout workshop session to help delegates focus on how to approach demonstrating their skills across each of the four Areas of Competence.

These workshop sessions are led and facilitated by Branch and Membership Committee volunteers – Full Members – who move from table to table to provide advice and guidance about the areas of competence, consider examples suggested by delegates, and to answer questions.  Informally known as the ‘speed dating’ part of the programme, these sessions are the part seen as the most personally helpful to many of those attending.

Branches, critically, lead in the organisation of the seminars, especially in terms of booking venues, encouraging prospective delegates, and providing operational support, all areas especially helpful given my part-time role.  Equally I can offer advice and support on the detailed arrangements, such as linking to national committee members  – helping secure assessors to attend the events – and on what resources the national body can offer to help delegates have an enjoyable as well as a useful networking and learning opportunity; with various refreshments on offer according to circumstances.

Event feedback and evolution
Delegates can feed back through a short ‘survey monkey’ questionnaire. There has been a limited response to the survey, as is to be expected, however many constructive and positive comments have been received, and these have helped refine the model we are developing for these seminars.

All respondents felt that the content of the seminar has provided them with the assistance they required to understand the process and where appropriate develop their full applications.  Specific comments referred to the sound advice provided, although one respondent still felt that the application process still remained daunting. This is a shame as the approach of the seminars has been to provide encouragement and demystify the process, but equally we have to be clear about the core standards that the membership application process must adhere to.

A recurring theme from early feedback was that attendees felt that more time would have been useful to discuss the competences in more detail.  It is this element of the seminar that has been adapted to allow for more time for attendees to ask questions, to share their case studies and experience as applicable to the application.  However delegates are extremely busy too, so time is necessarily limited, but we always offer the chance for further questions to be raised with volunteers and myself after the event as well.

Feedback has been really helpful and positive, with one attendee saying: ‘Very informative and useful session. Kate and her colleagues have inspired me to get on with completing the ‘full membership’ application file which has been on my desk for too long!’

Another said: ‘… Found it extremely useful, especially talking to people who had done it and were able to give a different perspective on examples you could use to meet the competences. The whole process isn’t quite as intimidating as before.’

This feedback is encouraging as it is good to know that the seminars are providing the support and encouragement intended. Of course constructive criticism is also valued as it helps refine and improve the seminar content and format.

Forward plans
With over 200 attendees at the seminar to date the next stage in the process is to collate data to find out how many of the attendees have successfully applied for their full membership. This will be undertaken in conjunction with the Membership Committee Chair and the IHBC Membership Services Officer. The data will be shared in the coming months. 

Thanks
Finally I would like to thank the Branches and members who have helped the seminars in any way be it taking bookings, arranging venues, contributing on the day for the competence workshops and the recent full members who have contributed to the presentations, in particular Alice Ullathorne, also a member of our new ‘Council+’. The success of this training is down to a partnership between the National Office and the Members who have willingly volunteered their time. It couldn’t be done without them.

Kate Kendall: LETS@ihbc.org.uk

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