Throughout the UK, there’s a complex array of pressures affecting wildlife – loss of natural habitats, deregulation, major infrastructure projects, a lack of appreciation of nature’s value to society, wildlife crime. All threaten our wildlife and wild places and affect everyone’s wellbeing. The Wildlife Trusts work in local communities with a wide range of different people, including landowners, businesses and local fishing industries. Where possible they try to build consensus and find pragmatic solutions to ensure nature’s recovery.
There are 47 independent, autonomous Wildlife Trusts. They are supported at the centre by the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts (RSWT) which drives strategic development and shares resources, skills and knowledge.
In 2011 the RSTW spotted an opportunity to develop entrepreneurial talent across the movement. They wanted to provide support to staff from each Trust to build their skills, release the talents of others and drive sustainable change. To this end Patience Thody, Director of Operations at RSWT, drafted a Business Skills Programme consisting of eight modules, each two-three months apart. In order to help finance this significant investment in staff, RSWT secured funding from the Tubney Trust. The CEO of each Wildlife Trust was then asked to select participants who displayed a passion and ability to inspire, influence and support the people around them.
Following the successful bid to Tubney, Patience contacted =mc to help with the delivery. We were asked to design and deliver three skills-based modules:
We worked with the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts and with the consultant delivering the other modules to ensure the modules keyed into – and built on – each other and used similar language.
The original plan was to roll out the programme to 10 – eventually overlapping – cohorts of 10-15 people over four years. Due to demand, this was later increased to 12 cohorts.
The pilot cohort launched in May 2012 and this group finished their last module in November 2013. Subsequent cohorts then launched every few months until Cohort 12 completed the programme on September 2016.
During the programme, participants identified and delivered a project to support their Trust. They also arranged and undertook a secondment to learn new approaches from others in the Trust movement, from charities in other sectors or from other environmental agencies. At the beginning of each module participants shared their progress on these initiatives and what they had learnt.
Each Trust took it in turn to host the training. Visiting participants took the opportunity to learn how the host Trust delivered their work and engaged with their local communities.
At the end of the programme we ran two seminars inviting the participants to share how the programme had impacted them personally, their work and their Trust.
They reported that they are now being more strategic, prioritising their work more effectively and achieving greater results:
They are also more positive in their engagement with others, building trust and collaborative win-win relationships both internally and externally.
Participants report their work is increasingly professional and sustainable, and feel they are now both less reactive in their approach, and their stress has reduced. One of the most positive benefits is the confidence they now have to create change that supports people, nature and their Trusts.
There were also some unexpected results. Some participants decided to roll out a condensed version of the training to others in their Trust. Many have been promoted to new roles within the Trust movement. Some have even become a CEO.
In 2017 the Royal Society of Wildlife Trusts launched their Talent and Skills Programme, which provides a variety of training modules, this time available to all staff in the 47 Trusts. This programme is part of their Development Strategy for 2017-2022.
=mc is now delivering our Emotional Intelligence, Business Acumen and Influential Fundraiser courses as part of this.
The Trusts know that to succeed in their mission they must inspire, empower and motivate society to value, protect and connect with their natural environment. Trust staff are crucial in achieving this aim. This Talent and Skills Programme will continue to develop talented, knowledgeable and skilful people who through their passion and commitment can help people and their local communities to thrive.
If you need a tailored training programme to meet the needs of your staff, we would be very happy to work closely with you to design a bespoke solution and match the outcomes you want. Visit the tailored training solutions web page for more info.
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Yvette Gyles, Director