Sheffield Practitioners Meeting – In Their Own Words 

We thought carefully about what we wanted to achieve – we had brought the E4S baton to our city and it was time to put Sheffield on the Engagement Map. It was important to us to get the venue right so we picked the electric works as it is a vibrant space that fitted with the E4S branding and is home to the creative & digital industries so celebrated  businesses at the forefront of the local economy.

We spent time planning the details of the event, and what we wanted the delegates to experience.  This involved us meeting on Sundays for coffee to look at how we could best organise it and involve others.  We took time to promote the event to as wider audience as possible by tapping into other people networks.  This meant that we could keep up the conversations about the event right up until the day, and because of this 45 people attended.  We had originally thought we could cater for up to 70, but actually on the day 45 people felt like 70!

As we have both been on our own E4S journey (both very different!) we felt it was important to share this with the group – it was part of the strategic narrative! Choosing a great speaker really made a difference – Cathy Brown from the core practitioner team at Engage for Success was instrumental in making the day a success by ensuring that delegates could benefit from her expert knowledge around engagement and how the movement is progressing across the UK to give a very up to date and in depth insight.

We carefully picked facilitators too – passionate about engagement and who knew how much it meant to us to try to create a lasting impact and inspire a local movement in Sheffield. Because of this, the event felt very professional, yet relaxed and informal.  We were well prepared for the exercises, and this was felt when we did the 4 Enablers session as people were moving freely around the room taking full advantage of the open space technology.

We were lucky enough to have an artist from delta 7 join us for the day to do a live drawing.  As delegates discussed their challenges, Mark was able to capture these and bring them to life.  It was a great  opportunity for us to get a record of the day to use later as a platform to raise the profile of engagement in Sheffield.
Energy was high around the room and the refreshments area sounded like a loud pub!  It was great to observe delegates enjoying the event, almost like when you host a party.  At the end of the event people didn’t leave, staying to chat to new connections. There was also a real appetite for us to set up an E4S local network in Sheffield.  We spent a little a bit of time at the end to get a  feel for what this could look like.  We even had 8 of us going on the helter skelter to end the event on a high with people literally screaming and whooping!

Finally, we closed it nicely by going for lunch with Cathy and the facilitators, it was fantastic to thank everyone for their efforts and celebrate with some Prosecco.

We have our first engagement network meeting on 14th March where we aim to discuss and identify the role and purpose of network in Sheffield and continue the momentum!

Hazel Pitcher & Sinead O’Neill

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