In the last post, we told you about the new U.Lab hub host guide and that a hub can be almost shape, size and configuration. It should be shaped around the needs of the participants. To give you a flavour of how some folks have done it, we asked a number of hub hosts from last U.Lab to share their reflections . In the first in the series, Gavin Patterson tells us his story of his “thematic” hub, where all the participants came together around a pre-agreed topic:
After much reflection, many conversations and planning, I decided to host a U.Lab hub, which would be themed around self management of health conditions. The main appeal, for me, was the opportunity to bring together people from various sectors who had an interest in self management and build relationships with them. Here are some of the steps we took and some of the things I would do differently.
I contacted a large group of people – over 100 people, 2 months in advance to ask if they would be interested in being involved. I explained a bit about what the course would involve, but I was also pretty open about the fact that I didn’t know what the end result would be and that there would no definite outcomes from this. That it would be a journey which would broaden our awareness, challenge us and form connections within the group. Contacting people well in advance is definitely a key aspect of forming a hub. Being clear about your expectations and also the potential time commitment is also necessary at this stage.
Once a small number (about 20) replied that they were interested, I began to ask the group questions like: Where would you like the hub to be located? Which days would suit everyone best? This is another key aspect of hub planning, as it is giving ownership over to the group. Being clear about collective ownership at an early stage will help set this tone for the duration of the journey.
- After the dates and location were set, I arranged an initial session which was about getting to know each other, discussing what we expected from the programme and what we would like to achieve as a hub. After that, we continued to meet every week and work through the programme. The number of people in our hub to complete the programme, was 12.
Some hindsight tips:
- Check the U.Lab course dates and times before you arrange hub meeting dates. You don’t want to be meeting before the course materials have been released.
- There is a fair bit of material uploaded every week, some weeks there were around 10 hours worth. We felt that we didn’t need to use all of it and didn’t have time to either. Therefore take turns every week, where one member of the group has a quick look at the material and decides what to focus on during your hub meeting. This was helpful for us as we had decided to meet for 2 hours every week.
- Take turns at hosting. It will take one person to ‘chair’ the session. As we didn’t have time to cover all the material in the 2 hours, the person chairing would also set an agenda and keep us to time. This is important if your hub is full of people who lead busy lives.
- Make sure it is informal, have tea/coffee, cake. Make the programme and the meetings work for you and the group and have fun!