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Grids, love them or loathe them.

Me, personally, I love the Sheila McKechnie Foundation’s Social Change Grid. It resonates with me as it made the complexities of working within a huge sector easier to navigate. I was very new to the term ‘social change’ but the Grid and the Social Power Report easily connects your experiences, quickly making you feel like a pro. It is a tool which can be used by a ‘novice’ and also by someone highly experienced.

I am a youth worker who came across SMK when looking for campaign training and networks for a five-year project I was assigned to. I work for MAP, a youth charity that in its broadest sense, delivers advice, counselling and youth work to 11-25 year olds in Norfolk. As we have grown, we have ventured out and researched many organisations across the world, some similar to us and some very different. We could easily have come away feeling stuck in a quadrant (defined by our focus on individuals, formal power and service delivery) but the Grid has allowed us to feel woven within the social change sphere.

How did the Social Change Grid support our work?  

I haven’t seen anything quite so simple and effective in summarising how change happens. At MAP, we have looked at four key areas that we work towards and one is – improving young people’s emotional independence, resilience and mental wellbeing. We asked all staff members to write down what they think we do to achieve that change. We found that the very nature of the Grid, allows respect for each aspect of achieving change and that each project is equally important to that area of change you want to make.

The Grid in context

One could argue that by having successful Youth Advisory Boards, which MAP facilitate with young people, the local Mental Health Services can feel entrusted that we can help them co-produce service transformation to improve the mental well being of young people. If you view the work at MAP in this way, suddenly you appreciate your colleagues within different teams more because, at the same time that you construct your own Social Change Grid, it dismantles any preconceptions that one part is more valuable/effective than the other.

Also, would Commissioners listen to MAP about redesigning services if what we offered on the ground wasn’t effective? If we didn’t deliver such a high quality Advice Service for young people, would we be encouraged and entrusted to design and deliver Personal, Social and Health Education (PHSE) lessons within local schools? Would the Youth Work Service at MAP even exist if the Advice and Counselling we delivered before 2009 was not as good as it was?

This sounds very self-congratulatory, it isn’t intended to. I am an agent for change within the organisation as much as an ambassador outside of it. It’s just humbling to venture out of Norfolk to see a world of experienced change-makers and realise what you bring with you can be as valuable as what you come back with. We were achieving social change, we just didn’t have a tool to bring all the areas together.

MAP is a consultancy client of SMK. We ran a one day workshop for MAP and a 5-day programme for one of their youth groups.

Colin Dutton

Senior Participation Youth Worker at MAP a charity that ensures young people have the access to quality information, advice, counselling and support they need for their holistic development.

Colin DuttonGrids, love them or loathe them.