OR55 Helping the hungry in Huddersfield Sue Merchant & Jane Parkin
The Welcome CentreHuddersfield • Set up in 1992. A charity since 2000. • Provides emergency food packs, clothes, & toiletries • to needy people referred by agencies • Has a small paid staff, and volunteer scheme to help • people back to work • Operates on donations from the public of non-perishable • items and cash • Based in centre of Huddersfield in rented accommodation • Last year provided 5589 food packs
Main operating problems • Lack of sufficient space – very cramped conditions over several floors • Lack of modern IT systems for stock control, client records etc • Lack of efficient day to day methods of storing and packing food • Relationship between trustees, staff and volunteers sometimes • strained • Demand for help and donations uncertain but demand expected to • increase by 50% due to changes in benefit rules
Problems we tried to address • Logistics – contact found • IT – suggestions for free software • Day to day methods (present • and future) - workshop • Relationships - workshop
Steps taken • Jane visited the Centre to assess how we might best help then we: • Skyped each other to discuss problems & methods • agreed to look at methods of working and involve • stakeholders in generating improvement ideas • designed a questionnaire to go to: • trustees, staff, volunteers, referring agencies • collated answers and used these to kick-start a workshop • ran half day workshop for selected mixed group of stakeholders • wrote a short report for trustees on the outcome • added some thoughts of our own on improvements
Questionnaire • Asked about: • Difficulties experienced with current set-up i.e. methods/systems/equipment/materials/space • Ideas for improvement of these • Ideas for ways in which staff changes (types/numbers/skills) might improve services • Emailed questionnaires to the Centre manager for circulation • Received 17 back • This generated a terrific stock of ideas which we summarised into 21 categories- • Main groups were: • space • facilities • IT • Many volunteers said how much they enjoyed working at the Centre
Questionnaire findings - main groups IT Client contact not fully confidential Space Phone Limited MI Finding client cards Heat Communication Shared kitchen Height of storage
Workshop Part 19.30-10.45 • Divided group of 9 into 2 tables (both mixed) • Explained the process • Issued each with set of instructions and questionnaire summary • Asked each group to brainstorm additional improvement ideas individually and jot • down on sticky notes (numbered as per the problem addressed) • Facilitators grouped these on flip charts according to problem addressed • When all finished went though all ideas checking for feasibility for quick wins • Attempted to group these according to impact in order to prioritise(ran out of time • and space on flipchart), luckily I’d made notes as we went through and captured • the group’s thoughts in terms of ‘ Yes, No, Consider’ • Each group fed back to all–one very enthusiastic lady stole the show!
Workshop Part 211-12.30 • One of the trustees opened the session by giving a short presentation • on plans for the future move where he hoped there would be more • space and scope for improved IT • The groups then looked at ideal systems which could operate in the new space • Each group took three processes each and talked through the stages • of each process and drew a rough sketch • Each group fed back findings and then trustees took away the diagrams • for use in planning
Outcomes –quick wins • Advertise food items NOT required from the public • Order goods on shelf better to match picking list • Buy new printer • Consider using walkie talkies to communicate across building • Hold more combined meetings staff/vols/management • Provide steps and grabbers for the vertically challenged • Resolve phone system problems and provide headphones • Advertise training course opportunities to staff/vols • Ask clients re their packing preferences • Put volunteer concerns as an item on trustee meeting agendas • Buy an ice-cream scoop!
Lessons/Outcome • Allow more time at the start for late arrivals/settling in/adjusting groups • when the cast changes • Mixed groups worked well • The workshop script was useful to keep facilitators on track • Need to take care in summarising questionnaire comments • Engagement was pretty good in Part 1 –partly due to the sticky notes - • and there was a buzz in the interval • Part 2 was less successful in engaging everyone in the groups – the advice of • someone more experienced in process workshops would have been useful • Trustees were very pleased and plan to use the material in future! • Quote: “With your input we feel we are more equipped to deal with the • expansion of the organisation” (Chair of trustees)