If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Juliet, Sam, Leadership Team* and I loved spending most of June and much of July with colleagues from the staff, volunteer and practitioner teams at the #ourNCTstory events. *(A number of you asked for a simple re-cap of who’s who on the executive and leadership teams and you can find that here.)
For those of you who couldn’t make it to one of our 26 events, you can watch a summary video online now.
Here are some reflections.
We have started evaluating all the feedback, and reading through the thousand-plus flip charts and post-its. We’ll share it with you too of course. And then act on it.
Already though, it is apparent how valuable it is investing the time in coming together to explain the plan and develop the plan. Our great thanks to all of you who joined in. I’m sure that in some form or another, these workshops will remain an essential part of how we move forwards together.
When I joined NCT, the single greatest message I heard was that, prior to action, we needed to come together to renew our sense of common purpose and agree our sense of direction.
So last year, this is what we did. We agreed our vision, mission and goals for the decade ahead. Inspired by volunteers and practitioners spontaneously starting to write #myNCTstory, we decided to call our shared ambition of supporting all parents across the first 1,000 days #ourNCTstory. It’s a ten year ambition.
And so we talked about how we were going to start the climb. The richness of the insight and data you gave us was incredible. We spent the second half of last year turning it into a realistic, costed plan, going live this spring. If you haven’t already, you can read that here.
So this summer was an opportunity to share what we’ve done. Be challenged on what we haven’t. And share what’s coming next.
I am proud that we plan through thousands of conversations. I think that’s unusual as well as powerful.
And I’m pleased with much of the progress we’ve made in the 12 months between last year’s workshops and this. Pleased, for example, that we’ve responded bravely to concerns about how we packaged up membership with course bookings in a way that wasn’t parent-centred. Pleased we’re putting in the foundations for making good on our very significant technical debt. Pleased to see real progress in how we support practitioners as shown up in the difference between last year’s and this year’s practitioner engagement survey – with 89% of practitioners agreeing ‘I feel motivated in my practice’, up from 75% last year. Pleased we’re testing different ways of driving down cancellations, exploring how best to be more flexible. I’m pleased we’ve got Parents in Mind up and running and are starting to see Birth and Beyond Community Supporters expand. Pleased to see such strong coverage of Support Overdue, our continuing influence in Better Births and The Best Start, (the English and Scottish maternity and neonatal strategies) and pleased with the launch of the #HiddenHalf campaign. All of this is happening because you’re making it.
This autumn I’m looking forward to the launch of local campaign tools, to the major upgrade to the look and feel of our website and to our online information centre, visited eight million times a year.
None of this is to be complacent. (Not that I worry that’s in our nature at NCT.) To pick examples from the other side of the ledger, we have so much to do to improve our support for volunteers (which is why, working with leaders on the Regional Volunteer Support Network we’ve restructured our approach). The volunteer engagement survey tells us that 35% of volunteers don’t have trust and confidence in leadership at NCT. I’ve taped that number to my desk. We’ve got to change it.
We have so much to consider as we look together at the services we provide for parents in our forthcoming review, rooted in insight into what parents want and need now.
I worry, for example, about the continuing lack of funding and national support for breastfeeding and how we meet that challenge (it’s one reason we’ve created a new Partnerships Team and invested more in working with commissioned services). The continuing challenge of selling Early Days concerns us all (which is why we’re testing different approaches to marketing from September). I know that moving away from our astonishing dependence on legacy systems won’t be easy or run smoothly.
I know we will make mistakes and that there will be misssteps and setbacks. It’s a cast iron certainty we won’t always agree. Movements should be edgy and dissenting: it’s our energy.
Every day, a part of me is frustrated we can’t move more quickly and do more, better, now.
And I know this too. No parent should be isolated. Everyone, every one, should have the best possible support in pregnancy, birth and early parenthood. We help people prepare for life and nothing is more important.
So we know which mountain we’re climbing. We have a good map. And we’re moving.
Thank you so much for everything you do. Thank you for getting involved in how we plan. Thank you for writing #ourNCTstory.
Because I know we have the energy to do this – and if not us then who?