Paul Slatter, Director of Chamberlain Forum

Paul Slatter is the director of Chamberlain forum and has been involved  in a number of ways to  bring the parties together. Facilitating sessions and using a technique called structured dialogue method, which as the name suggests is a structured way of approaching a dialogue between 2 sides of an issue. For more information on Structured Dialogue see here and for a full report – as a word document – click here.


Some key points Paul makes are: Continue reading “Paul Slatter, Director of Chamberlain Forum”

Nick Booth from Podnosh talks about his role as facilitator on the Community Asset Transfer programme

Nick Booth from Podnosh talks about his role as facilitator on the Community Asset Transfer programme. Nick was asked to start this website to capture the story of the community asset transfer transfer programme and  record the learning journey of both officers and community activists involved.


His expectations of simply providing a place for participants in the transfer project to tell their stories changed, as this also became a social reporting project and he has called on his “old media” skills to capture the learning, experiences and journeys too.

Advice to other Local authorities and officers:

    • Don’t be afraid to tell the truth of your experience as you go through the process. This will be a useful assessment and understanding of how successful the process was for you and others.
    • This sort of open transparency should be used in all other communication methods too, and should eventually affect your organisations expectations of it self.
    • Don’t be afraid to be fallible, your humanity will strengthen the process and engagement will be deeper.

      Advice for third sector organisations:

        • Use online tools such as blogs and video as your project progresses  because in the end this will help you understand what you’ve achieved and the process. ,
        • Don’t just limit online tools to telling the story of your asset transfer – they are a great way to tell the everyday story of  what you do and who you work with.

          Perry Common Community Hall Re-opens

          Perry Common Opening selected images

          Above are a few photos from yesterday’s open of the the newly refurbished and Community Asset Transferred Perry Common Community Hall. We also have some video which we’ll share as soon as we’ve done some work on it.

          Thoroughly enjoyable afternoon following on from a good 9 months of building and two years of other work to get to this stage.

          Karen Cheney on lessons from the Community Asset Transfer Development Programme in Birmingham

          Kareh Cheney of Birmingham City Council

          Karen Cheney has been the co-ordinator of  the Community Asset Transfer Development Programme as part of her job as Senior Manager – Community Empowerment Projects Lead in the Neighbourhood and Communities Team of Birmingham City Council – Constituency Services.   Below she talks very clearly about what the programme has achieved Continue reading “Karen Cheney on lessons from the Community Asset Transfer Development Programme in Birmingham”

          Bret Willers, Hall Green Constituency Director, reflects on community asset transfer

          Bret Willers is the Constituency Director for Hall Green in Birmingham, he’s been involved with the community asset transfer development programme as an advisor, constructive challenge  and with an interest in assets may be used differently in his part of the city.


          Some of the key thoughts from his interview are:

          Valueing Worth – we have not entirely cracked this problem, accountants and others not used to finding value in the intangibles, but it is good see the possibilities being acknowledged.  It is important to develop a process of describing value which both the local authority and third sector organisations can recognise as objective.  It is also worth asking the knock on effect of the value being created in one place to neighbouring places or the wider community.

          Key learning for council officers

          Be prepared to take risks, be entrepreneurial and look at it from the point of view of a social business.  Be open minded.  Allow 3rd sector organisations to make money – don’t be afraid of profit.

          Key lessons for the third sector

          Be business minded, it’s not a bad think to make a profit, particularly if the money if ploughed back into your work.  Ask yourself if your proposals stacks up financially and also match your core values.   Be creative – don’t be afraid to take risks

          Roger Lloyd – senior lawyer at Birmingham City Council talks about his experience of Community Asset Transfer

          Roger Lloyd is the Head of Regeneration and Property Law for Birmingham City Council Legal Services.  Click below to listen to his thought on lesson from the Community Asset Transfer Development programme.


          Roger’s role was looking after the lawyers in his team who were developing after the lease document, aiming to make sure the governance and accounting side works satisfactorily.  He says a key issue was that the contracts had to take into account the impact of International Financial Reporting Standards which is a radical change, as of April 1st 2010,  in how local government accounts for assets on their books.

          Advice to other council officers:

          1. Work with accountants and lawyers of all of the people involved from the beginning, concentrating on securing all the right authority from all the right partners at the very start.  This makes sure that the transaction has the right approval early.
          2. The lawyers need to be brought in right at the beginning to ensure that plans fit the law.
          3. There always needs to be proper communication, and if one side is not understanding the other that is proper communication. Lawyers need to make sure that they iron out misunderstanding by also using plain English.

          For third sector organisations:

          1. The project manager from the third sector organisation needs to take time to understand the legal hoops that need to be jumped through.You may not like the position, but understanding it will help
          2. Remember we are trying to find a way through for you.

          If you have any thoughts on Roger’s observation you could leave a comment below.

          Structured Dialogue, a technique used to improve relationships and learning

          Structured dialogue is a technique used by the Chamberlain Forum to encourage open conversation between different partners during the Community Asset Transfer process and this film explains some of the principles behind it.  You can find out more on the Chamberlain Forum’s website:

          Based on an approach developed in Canada by Ronald Labonte and Joan Feather, it uses peoples’ stories and a structured dialogue around them to evaluate and understand the experience of policies in practice.

          Key elements of the approach involve:

          • A provocative theme – something to generate animated discussion
          • A diverse storytelling circle of around 10-15 people
          • Two storytellers willing to share their experience
          • Active reflection of all participants – not just the storytellers
          • Structured questioning – not general discussion
        1. A skilled facilitator to manage the process