Roles for the issue meeting
If you are an organiser you are developing others to lead, so in the future they won’t need you. Only take a role if this is new for the team and need to learn from you. Here are the roles:
- Chair: directs the meeting and prepares the agenda.
- Host: greets and welcome people. The host organises the venue and refreshments.
- Scribe: writes the key points of the meeting and circulates them to the group.
- Time-keeper: keeps people to time throughout the meeting
The host confirms an accessible venue at least two weeks in advance. The chair and if you have one, an organiser, prepare the draft agenda and send it to the group for contribution and sign off. The final agenda is sent to all invitees a week in advance.
Welcome (5 min)
- Host welcomes everyone.
- Chair asks for consent of the agenda and one hour of uninterrupted time.
- Chair explains the purpose: we want to go into greater depth about issue X and see if we can do anything about it. Please respect the time we all have and listen to the time-keeper. One tap means you have one minute left, second tap signals the next person should start.
Rounds (20 – 30 min)
A rounds question is an intentional question designed to get an open and honest response. They encourage the heart to speak. It also helps us to know the people in the room and what matters to them.
The rounds is the most important part of the issue meeting. It is when everyone gets a chance to speak about the issue that matters to them.
For example: if everyone is affected by debt, a rounds question could be “describe how debt is affecting you or your community right now”.
People answer with their names, what group/institution/area they are from and their answer to the rounds. The agenda should have been sent one week in advance, so people have had opportunity to think about their response. Give everyone a minute to reflect and 1 to 2 minutes to speak. The chair should start and set the tone with a strong, open answer. It will encourage others to follow.
If someone gives you a one-word answer, try to draw out detail but don’t pry. You could say “what is making it stressful?”. Speaking out loud takes courage and it may be the first time they have spoken so publicly, so ask thoughtful questions. If someone is going over and not listening to the time-keeper, the chair needs to respectfully interrupt.
Themes (15 min)
The chair asks the scribe to describe the common themes emerging. Maybe it is mental health concerns, loan shark companies, or lack of knowledge. Ask for consensus, do we agree as a group that these are the specifics within issue X that matter to us? Go around the circle to ensure everyone is happy and if they want to add anything.
Next steps (15 min)
This is not about deciding the solution, but feeling the energy in the room to do something about it. Ask the group who else should we be speaking to? Does anyone have relationships with these people? Are people up for speaking to them? Do we want to take this work further?
Ask people to write their names on a sheet of paper, with their commitment to what they will do next. Decide as a team when you will meet again. Some people will say they are unable to give more time, and that is ok. Meet them for a follow up 1-to-1 to see if there is any other way they would like to be involved. We do not guilt people to drag their feet.
Closing (less than 5 min)
Chair thanks the host and everyone for coming. Remind the room of why you are all here. Do we feel we have a greater sense of the issues? Read aloud the next steps. Minutes are then sent around to everyone by the end of the week.
The evaluation happens straight after the meeting for 15 minutes. It is attended by those who organised the meeting.
- How do you feel?
- Did the meeting meet its aim?
- Logistics? (Venue/refreshments/accessibility)
- Who showed up and were the numbers right?
- Who do we want to work with and meet for a 1-to-1?
- What will we do better next time?
- Next steps?
Next steps of the issue meeting
During the issue meeting you are looking for people you want to build a team with. They are folks with anger, energy and want to make change happen. After the meeting follow up with these individuals for a 1-to-1. Ask them how did they find the meeting? Would they be willing to to act on the issue? Are there others who they think should be involved? You will also do a little research on the points raised in the meeting to understand the issue better.
For example: if the issue is stop and search of young working class folk from a local estate, what are the rules/rights/laws around that? What does the data on this really look like? What is the history around this issue?Which young people are most affected? Are there any opportunities coming up/important dates we should know about that could lift up the issue?
You will do multiple issue meetings until you have at least six committed people who want to give their time and energy to the issue. Remember, starting a team requires only one person, who you develop and support to build a five-strong group around them. The teams you are building should be diverse, have roots in the issue and want to learn. They are evidence that with training and support, any one of us can lead in changing our world.