Listening hard for ourNCTservices

People involved = >220

Number of small group and one-to-ones discussions = 70

Regions of the UK = 12

Sheer volume of learning = awesome

Wow, February and March proved to be a very busy time for the ourNCTservices team. Caroline, Annie and I have been travelling the length and breadth of the UK to meet with more than 200 practitioners, alongside discussions with volunteer coordinators and PSAs. What have we been doing? Listening; listening hard.

Building on #ourNCTstory so far, the ourNCTservices project asks how, over the decade ahead, do we ensure our services are as accessible and impactful for parents as possible. What should we just keep doing the way we currently do? What should we adapt? Is there anything we should stop doing? And what should we consider starting to do?

Learning from your practical expertise and experience of delivering services for parents is absolutely key, alongside listening to parents directly. And so we’ve hosted a series of structured small group and one-to-one discussions, in person or by phone, speaking in depth with over 220 individuals – many of whom you can spot in this montage of photos from our travels!

It has been a truly brilliant experience and we have gained so much from the discussions – what you think are the most important times and ways in which we can support parents, what the barriers are to this locally for you, when and how we should be providing and promoting services, where you think we need to make improvements, and your ideas for better ways of working. Whilst not a quantitative exercise, speaking to so many of you means that we have been able to capture the strength and consistency of feeling to a certain extent, as well as the views expressed.

This beautifully complements the in-depth research we have been doing with parents across the UK, including those who have accessed NCT support and those who haven’t. I’d like to thank everyone involved for your commitment, honesty, enthusiasm and healthy dose of challenge. It’s really going to help us make much better decisions if we continue to work together on this.

It hasn’t all felt easy of course; it was never going to. There are understandably deep-seated frustrations about some of our current ways of working or the pace of change. There is some suspicion that we might already have the answers up our sleeve (we haven’t by the way – this whole exercise is nothing, if not open to listening, learning and analysis, ahead of any decision making). There is both desperation for change and weariness of change – sometimes expressed by the same person in the same conversation. But there remains remarkable consistency in what we’re all here to do (all parents, first one thousand days), and enthusiasm for working together more effectively as an organisation and across specialisms.

What are the next steps? We’re heading into a very busy period of analysis through late April and May, pulling together the evidence from across the workstreams – what we’ve heard from parents, what you’ve told us, what we’ve found from NCT data (e.g. impact, feedback, cost) and what we know from external evidence. We’ll then be sharing initial findings with you all at the #ourNCTstory workshops in June – dates will be shared very soon.

Thank you again to everybody who has contributed and everyone who continues to welcome us along to observe your services. Mother and Baby Yoga (with a willing doll) on a Friday morning was the perfect antidote to a week on the rail network – I may be back very soon!

If you haven’t registered already to be kept up to date with the project via email updates from the ourNCTservices team, please do so here. And we look forward to seeing you lots of you at the next stage!

You can read more about the background to the project in our first blog hereAnd you can catch up on Annie, Nick and Juliet’s reflections from partway through our discussions with parents and practitioners.

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