Making your voice heard

Last week saw 2020’s first session of the PSR Forum, and we kicked off this important year with a discussion about Walter Bower House user groups.

First of all, the reps heard a quick update covering various parts of the project, including the important news that we now have permission to hire a member of staff for WBH. The new WBH Services Coordinator post will be advertised very soon so please do watch this space.

We then turned to the subject of user groups. Thinking ahead to life post-relocation, there is a need to create groups to develop and continue our work within the PSR Forum. There are, however, various types of group we could pursue and I wanted to make sure the staff have a say in what these are and the remits they will cover. Thinking about this now will ensure that we can continue to represent the needs and interests of the staff while transitioning to the new building. 

I shared some ideas for possible groups in advance of the meeting and asked the reps to think about them. Here are those ideas.

1. A temporary group to look at short-lived issues

This will be particularly important in the first few months after the building opens when small issues may naturally arise. This could sit for six or so months after opening, shorter or longer as needed.

2. A channel for building users to provide ongoing feedback and suggestions

Designed as a way for the building users to communicate with the Services Team in an efficient manner.

3. A group to discuss and encourage social activities

At the end of 2018 we discussed health, safety and wellbeing. One of the themes that came through from that discussion was the interest in setting up a social committee. After some discussion, we decided together that group number 1 could naturally become group number 2 after a certain amount of time. We would have a separate group for number 3 – a social committee.

We then went through and discussed some points around how these groups would operate:

How will group members be picked?

The reps felt that the feedback group should have one member from each unit. The social committee could have anyone as a member, but we should try to reflect a wide variety of interests. The reps thought that attending on a voluntary basis was the best way forward.

How long should members serve on these groups?

The reps thought members should serve for a minimum of 12 months on the user groups.

How often do the groups need to meet?

The reps would like to see the feedback group stay as a monthly meeting. This could be backed up by the use of Microsoft Teams (as we do at the moment). The feeling was that the social committee could meet less often, perhaps quarterly. Teams could also be a powerful way to collate ideas for the social committee and allow even more participation.

What format should the groups take?

Having food at the meetings was felt to be very useful… so continuing over lunchtime seems to be the way forward. The new WBH Services Coordinator could chair both of these groups and, in terms of agendas, we could have a few standing items (perhaps café, gym etc) and also ask for agenda items. The reps thought it was a good idea for the social committee to meet in the café.

Should the social committee have a budget?

The reps thought that, ideally, the social committee would have a budget but it can’t be expected. It could look at self-funded activities, asking for small entrance fees for talks etc, or it may have to stick to free activities.

So that’s where we are – we’ll have a WBH user group that acts as a channel of communication for building issues, both immediately after we relocate and continuing after we’ve all settled in, plus we’ll also have a social committee. I’ll now write up some terms of reference for each of the groups and we can start to look forward to setting these up.  

See you next month!

Louise Soutar
PSR Project Officer

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