As you may recall, the Big Conversation was a two-year collaborative process to create a new Shared Strategy for the Network, setting out what we wanted to achieve together with and for older people.
We had just reached the point of hosting a series of events to finalise our ambitions for older people and begin discussions on how we could deliver our ambitious agenda when the Covid-19 pandemic began, and the Big Conversation project was put on hold.
With work on the shared strategy paused, we proposed an extension to the BPA, due to expire in March 2021, to give the Network time to recalibrate before we resumed our discussions.
However, as the pandemic has progressed, it is apparent that a significant proportion of the Age family is facing long-term damage to income generation and service delivery. There is a clear need for urgent action to reshape services, reduce costs, secure income and explore new ways of working as soon as possible.
With that in mind, we have restarted our push for a new shared strategy with even greater urgency. This new phase takes place under a new name – the Network Development Programme.
How far did the Big Conversation get?
Last year, members of the Age UK network, through the Big Conversation, discussed extensively the foundations of the future 10-year shared strategy. These discussions resulted in the following foundation statements:
- Common purpose – what we do with, for and on behalf of older people
- Principles – what underpins all of our work with older people
- Ambitions for older people – what we would like to see for all older people
These draft foundation statements were collated from the discussions at a series of events held throughout 2019 and additional feedback from local Age UK Boards. Age UK communications specialists refined the wording in January 2020 as preparation for eventual public consumption.
The intention prior to the Covid-19 pandemic was to develop these foundation statements with further input from the Age UK network, older people and other stakeholders. We did not aim to make additional significant changes, but rather to check that the focus was right, that language was appropriate and that no important issues had been omitted. By March 2020 we had consulted with a group of 20+ older people in Sheffield and had plans in place for a further eight consultation events around the country. Unfortunately the Covid-19 outbreak meant that those events could not take place.
Towards the end of 2019 we were also developing an approach to bring together people from across the Age family to develop detailed plans to shape and define our work for each of the ambitions. The approach to planning included building our collective capacity to lead and manage change, developing clear objectives for each of the ambitions and setting specific goals for a 3 year horizon. This work which was linked to finalising the foundation statements was also halted in March.
To find out how the Network Development Programme will pick up the work from the Big Conversation, please click below: