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Informal learning in self-build networks


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Presented by Melanie Nind at the NNDR (Nordic Network on Disability Research) Conference in May 2019.

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Informal learning in self-build networks

  1. 1. Informal learning in self-build networks Melanie Nind, University of Southampton With Andrew Power, Andy Coverdale, Ed Hall, Hannah MacPherson, Alex Kaley NNDR, Copenhagen, May 2019 @m_nind #SelfBuildSocialCare
  2. 2. Key ideas • State-provided social care in the UK is in decline due to personalisation policy and austerity • People with learning disabilities & their families/allies are creating new initiatives • This is ‘self-build’ social care with spaces for informal learning
  3. 3. Key questions 1. So what happens in the everyday lives of people cast adrift in a new landscape of social care? 2. How are people reclaiming, reimagining and experiencing support and how is this fostering informal, community and lifelong learning? 3. What kinds of ‘self-build’ network initiatives are emerging and how might we support them? 4. How are new networks reshaping how we think about the spaces and meaning of social care, lifelong learning and welfare?
  4. 4. Research design & methods • Community-based ethnographic case studies in 4 areas of England & Scotland • Close working with local advisory groups to ensure accessible research methods & local relevance • Interviews, observations, activities & focus groups • Formative workshops for feedback/co- analysis • Co-production of resource packs, web app, & short films
  5. 5. Self-build learning networks • Exploring self-build networks as informal spaces of learning • Not just the learning of individuals within a community; collective learning by a group of people that is continuous and transforming (Falk & Harrison 1998) • Locating lifelong learning in social participation and dialogue (Coffield 1999) • Informal shoulder-to-shoulder learning by people with learning disabilities is under-estimated & under-researched (Nind 2016) • ‘value creation’ (Wenger et al. 2011) when networks or communities foster social learning through sharing information and experiences, learning from and helping each other with challenges.
  6. 6. Friendship Meetups • Facilitating friendship and social meetups • Nestled within a self-advocacy group, largely user-led with a management committee • Fostering social learning through providing new opportunities to manage the group, support others at events, travel sharing and learning, use of social media • ‘If we’ve got problems at friendship meetups I’d help those two out as well. Help each other out if we’ve got any problems.’ Model of self-advocates helping each other & learning as they go
  7. 7. Good Neighbours • A network facilitating support & help with tenancies and being part of the community • 'if someone has a problem, or is worried about something then they would talk to the network' • Utilising ‘paid neighbours’ idea of community living workers who live in the area and put on meetings & activities • Enabling progress from member to associate member status to allow the networking to continue but with less support when it’s no longer needed Model of sustainable local support, reciprocity and peers as assets
  8. 8. A new member says that her support from her Good Neighbour worker 'has been fantastic .... it's already made such a difference to my life ... helps me to get to places I couldn't go before, I went to a panto on Saturday with the network, I've never been to a panto before, and this Saturday I'm going to the quality street meeting' (for all network members to come together and talk about issues, they often get guest speakers come in to talk) 'Everyone is really nice … it's been great to get out and meeting new people'
  9. 9. Book Shop Project • Pop-up second hand bookshop facilitating meaningful occupation and learning of social and vocational skills • Community development worker-led rather than user-led but person-centred • 3 volunteers at a time ‘get the opportunity to work together [and …] to do all the tasks that are involved’ • ‘first of all I came here to meet new people … I didn’t have the confidence for speaking to other people. This place gave me confidence to speak to other people. So now I’ve got the confidence and now I’ve got my skills back I had when I used to work when I was younger ... So that got my skills back and now I’ve got my confidence back, I’m more confident in what I’m doing now’ Model of mutual support & confidence-building in authentic retail setting; voluntary work & training
  10. 10. Disabled People’s Alliance • Large disabled people’s organisation providing free accessible learning and training programmes & events for disabled people • Mix of informal & certificated learning, mostly ‘about building people's kind of capacity and their confidence and connections with other disabled people, the peer support element is a huge part’; ‘a big part of what we do is around voice, and is about building people's capacity, skills and confidence [… to] talk to people about what they think needs doing to change in a whole range of areas from accessible housing, to transport, to employment’ • People using personal budgets for care, but loss of day centres means ‘loss of social networks’, ‘of sense of kind of belonging & group activity’; ‘people don't necessarily want to access things on their own’ Model of peer support & collective engagement
  11. 11. Transitional Day Centre • Fostering continuity of people and place, but changing the organizational management and becoming more flexible in what they offer • Facilitated by former day centre staff • Learning to form a new community and to share some of the power • Many missed opportunities for informal learning Model of social enterprise/ day centre plus
  12. 12. Dynamics of peer-to-peer learning Competition ‘Yeah, because I recently noticed once you do something new, someone else will be watching you and they’ll be thinking, oh, I might like to do that. So, you’re influencing others as much as you’re building up on yourself, yeah.’ Self-directed learning Elaine: It scares the hell out of me, thinking about it now, but I’m sure I can do it Interviewer: And is this something which has been discussed within the organisation? Elaine: No. I personally want to do it
  13. 13. Dynamics of peer-to -peer learning Community ‘[Community centres & organizations] will provide, you know, services, events and so on that adults with learning disabilities will be encouraged to access, but if they don't feel connected to that community and don't really feel connected to other, you know, adults in that community, it doesn’t really matter, you know, whether that service is good or not, or accessible’ Ongoing care ‘Because actually, when we go home from here, the social workers and professionals think it’s bed, it’s switch off time. But actually, when we’re out with our friends and people we work with, we never switch off, there’s always somebody down the road that needs help.’ Self advocacy ‘Just learning different things, just doing it together’
  14. 14. Themes • Sometimes displaced people from former day centres (including staff) found each other & built something new • Reciprocal peer-to-peer learning didn’t mean no staff involvement • Community learning (by a group of people that is continuous and transforming) – took years to develop • Some learning was individual and self-directed, some more communal • Networks were needs-based not just asset-based • Personal connections needed to be built, self-advocacy skills were critical to initiating & sustaining networks
  15. 15. Issues arising • Powerlessness as people’s parents age and moves are forced, day centres close and contact with friends is lost • Training offered is often not in what matters most to people - how to make friends/get along, deal with everyday challenges • Little opportunity for self-directed learning of knowledge rather than skills • Opportunities for learning were there - in hanging out together, using social media, accessing networks and groups – but under-used • Tension between continuity & progression (sometimes helped by new roles e.g. moving from trainee to volunteer, or member to associate member, or member to management committee) • Sometimes learning was transformative, but individuals often had little personal of awareness and ownership of their own learning