Wildlife Adventures in Eastern Europe 2012-15 – a new book

david book

A good friend of mine, David Withrington, has just had a book published. I went with him, several years ago, on one of his adventures to Slovenia and had a hugely enjoyable and knowledge expanding time.

Wildlife Adventures in Eastern Europe 2012-15: Estonia, Bulgaria, Greece and Macedonia, Hungary and Slovakia – an illustrated account of summer visits by a group of naturalists from England. David Withrington and Paul Raven, 2017. 104 pages with 360 colour photographs. Available here from Natural History Book Service £12.50

What do staff of the statutory nature conservation agencies do when they retire? Go on holiday of course!

In June 2012, David Withrington, Paul Raven, Neil Hailey, Peter Marren and Steve Berry – all former staff of English Nature and its predecessor body – decided to visit Estonia, a country to which none of them had been before. The objective was to discover the country’s wildlife, especially the birds, butterflies and flowering plants. The accommodation and itinerary were arranged after online research by David.

The main features of Estonia are – its Baltic coastline, large areas of peat bog and Lake Peipsi, which sits on the border with Russia – though this did not seem to deter the birds. It was not just the amazing variety of wildlife and habits which made the holiday, but encounters with people, cultures and nightlife. All these are chronicled and illustrated in the book. The reader lives the journey with our intrepid adventurers. 

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At the Heart of Health

NESTA REPORT

I was very excited to hear that the RIPPLE Project, which emerged from a couple of workshops I facilitated in 2014 for the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust (in partnership with Coventry University, the British Lung Foundation and local voluntary sector groups in Coventry), is beginning to gain momentum as a prime example of a “Person- and Community-centred approach for Health and Wellbeing.

Yesterday I facilitated a similar workshop in Wolverhampton of 45 patients, matrons, GPS, Hospice workers, Chaplaincy, fire service, community trust, Age UK & voluntary sector to bring together a community (and their assets) as part of a bid to become part of a second tier of six further similar projects in the West Midlands.

Anyway we found out that on Tuesday NESTA, the independent charity that works to increase the innovation capacity of the UK, had published its latest report entitled At the Heart of Health – Realising the value of people and communities, and that the RIPPLE Project was being held as a great example of enabling group activities that can be beneficial to support health and wellbeing.

What they highlight about the RIPPLE Project is:

Group activities in practice: RIPPLE – Respiratory innovation: Promoting a Positive Life Experience

People with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) experience chronic ill health and are at risk of early death. The symptoms of COPD, including breathlessness and coughing, can lead to and amplify anxiety, low self-esteem and social isolation. These in turn lower mental wellbeing and can result in both poor self-management and a lack of engagement with key treatments, such as smoking cessation and pulmonary rehabilitation. People can become trapped in a negative cycle where poor self-management leads to worsening symptoms.

As part of the Health Foundation 2014 Shine Programme, University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust took a whole systems approach to this challenge. A broad partnership was set up involving local patients and carers, primary and secondary care clinicians, academics, public health professionals, and third sector organisations to discuss and develop innovative solutions to the social isolation and anxiety observed in individuals with COPD.

After consultation with people living with COPD, the partners decided that an informal community-based clinic would act as a catalyst for increased involvement. This evolved into a group model which blended informal clinic and education sessions with social activities such as bingo, quizzes, singing and seated yoga every Monday afternoon in a community centre.

Results included:

  • Reduced social isolation and anxiety.
  • Increased mental wellbeing.
  • Improved confidence in ability to self-manage.

Preliminary evidence – involving a small number of patients – suggests that attending the RIPPLE programme regularly may reduce the number of unplanned hospital admissions. The patients involved in RIPPLE are chronically ill and as such, you would normally expect their condition to deteriorate, leading to an increase rather than a decrease in hospital admissions. The RIPPLE team has secured additional funding through the Health Foundation’s Spreading Improvement programme which will allow these findings to be further explored.

“Coming here, well, it’s given me a social life I didn’t have before…I feel like a fraud coming here now because I feel so good.”

A couple of other quotes from the report which is probably obvious why they appeal to me are:

In essence, asset-based approaches for health and wellbeing seek to create approaches that are participatory, enabling people to lead action for health, and are underpinned by a focus on what makes us healthy.

As with many community-centred approaches, this is an area where practice on the ground is ahead of the academic research. There is a lack of systematic or review-level academic evidence about asset-based approaches for health and wellbeing.

To date, evidence of effectiveness on asset-based approaches in the UK is limited to a few local, emergent solutions within particular contexts, with little practical guidance on how to put them into practice at scale.

The entire NESTA report can be accessed and downloaded here and is highly recommended.

Storytelling For Problem Solving & Better Decision Making

I have just been confirmed as speaker and seminar facilitator at the next NETIKX event in London on Tuesday afternoon 22nd March 2016. My challenge for the day is to demonstrate just what Participatory Narrative Inquiry methods can bring to resolving issues and problems and improving decision making.

NETIKX

If you have never heard of them before NetIKX is the Network for Information and Knowledge Exchange and with a membership fee of only £60 per annum which includes free admission to this and another five similar events over the year, you would be a fool not to join immediately. At London prices the wine alone is worth it.

Review your Flood Plan & lessons learned now

Special 2016 fixed price offer

A fully facilitated Flood Review and Action Planning workshop

floodpic

Have you and your community been flooded, are you worried about the risk of flooding in the future or just wish to make sure you are prepared for the worst?

If you want to inform and influence government policy, funding, national and local action, it is essential to get together and explore options and ideas as soon as possible.

Drawing on my experience of Knowledge Sharing and Inventive Problem Solving I have put together a facilitated workshop that can easily be adapted to suit the specific needs of your community/organisation or local authority.

All you need provide is the participants, a room/space and refreshments.

Whatever your stage in the cycle I can deliver a workshop to meet your current needs.

Consider which of the following you would wish to focus on and email me now for a price and further details.

1. Lessons learned – sharing and capturing stories and insights before they are forgotten.

2. Creating a flood plan (including resource map)

3. Problem solving

4. Creating a flood risk plan

5. Building local cohesion before the next flood.

Putting the workshop together was inspired by this slideshare pack of Analytics to advise a business in Leeds created by Ian Abbot Donnelly, a good friend of mine.

contact details

Ecology of Knowledge Menu V1 front

I have finally managed to create a menu of services that I am happy with. Click on either image to enlarge. The PDF version can be downloaded here, a version complete with prices is available on request..

Ecology of Knowledge Menu V1 no pricesand yes, before you ask, I do have 25 years experience of providing discos and music quizzes so why not end (or punctuate) your event with a participatory musical high.