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‘What we heard’ at Together with Barnwood 2022

On Thursday 3rd November 2022 we held ‘Together with Barnwood’ at Kingsholm Stadium in Gloucester. Over 60 people joined Barnwood Trustees, staff and Barnwood Circle members for this annual sharing event.

You can read more about the event by clicking here.

We also made a film about the work of the Trust over the past year, it is linked in the article above or can be viewed here.

At the event we asked for feedback on the aspects of our work that were presented and ideas that would help take our work forward over the next year. We have now had a chance to collate everything we heard and a summary of this is below.

Partnership working and strategic partnerships

The development of strategic partnerships is a new activity for Barnwood, so the information about them that we shared at the ‘Together with Barnwood’ event was new to everyone.  The comments we received suggest that people are interested in them, want to know more about what is coming out of them and also want to find out the process for becoming a strategic partner with the Trust.

Suggestions were made around very broad areas of work and creating new partnerships and collaborations. We are mindful that our partnerships come through listening and learning and are connected to the Trust’s strategic aims. It was felt to be positive that Barnwood works on a local level, connecting with local organisations.

We have taken notice of all of this and so will be developing the Trust’s website during 2023 to give more information about both our existing partnerships and also how we work to develop partnerships with relevant organisations.


Place-based development

The presentations given at the event were on two different pieces of work being delivered by our Strategic Development team, the ‘Access to Nature’ project and the work around mental health in the Forest of Dean. Specific queries and questions have been responded to directly but if you have any further questions please contact our SDM team on

We heard positive feedback that the work seemed based on valued research and would hopefully inform future development in the county. Our place-based approach was said to promote alliances and partnerships informed by co-production. We were also encouraged to share all the learning and were told that it is positive to see Barnwood using the local practice to influence the national organisations and that we should continue to do this.


Funding: Organisation funding

Attendees suggested that Barnwood should form funding alliances in the county to expand access to funding. We are currently working collaboratively through Gloucestershire Funders and are very open to other funders joining the group to make it even more inclusive. We also heard encouraging suggestions that partnerships with other funders could enhance our influencing power and lead to wider systems change.

It was also suggested that a funding relationship between VCS organisations and Barnwood should not be purely transactional, but that there should be an element of supporting capacity-building and organisational development. It was also suggested that Barnwood could learn from community organisations in the county, which we agree with wholeheartedly. We see linking up and championing best practice as key to our role in the county.


Funding: Grants to individuals

People said it was important that we monitor the impact of our grants to individuals, and become more transparent about how we make our decisions. Attendees made helpful suggestions about sharing statistics on who is applying and where, which will both support local community organisations to better understand the level of need for the grants we provide in the county, and help individuals understand how likely it is their application to Barnwood will be successful. These ideas will form part of a big piece of work that we have committed to in 2023, which will make information about our funding programmes and policies much clearer on Barnwood’s website.

There was an appetite among community and referral organisations at the event to partner with the Trust to ensure our funding goes to those individuals who need it most, which was encouraging as we will be reviewing the role of referral partners as part of the larger scale individual grant review in 2023. We also received suggestions to review the accessibility of our application process.

Some people expressed concern that they were no longer eligible to apply for individual grants from Barnwood, as they do not meet its current eligibility criteria. The grant is currently open only to groups who have accessed the Trust’s funding much less in the past. This is an important step for us to manage demand and to make the application process fairer for all, however we do recognise that some people will be disappointed that they are not currently able to apply. Barnwood will continue to work with Experts by Lived Experience to ensure that our criteria and processes are regularly reviewed in line with what disabled people and people with mental health conditions tell us is important to them.



The suggestions we heard included to keep producing reports and surveys, as well as ideas of what else to do going forward. This included analysing funding and community provision to identify gaps, to look at best practice and collaboration, and to use research to inform what is happening in the county.

A rich range of ideas for sharing our ‘State of Gloucestershire’ research in 2023 were discussed. This included individuals and organisations to share the findings with, as well as different ways of communicating the content online and in-person. These ideas are being incorporated into our plans and we’re looking forward to making connections and having conversations in 2023. The feedback shared will also be helpful in planning future research we undertake from 2023 onwards.



We had lots of feedback about how we are communicating our Empowered Employers campaign, both in terms of accessible content, particularly for people without access to the internet, but also more generally in making sure that the campaign is really visible. There was also an interesting discussion about where ideas for campaigns came from, with many saying that we needed to be talking to community groups, as well as the importance of collaboration and partnership working with the VCS and businesses. The idea of accessible transport as a future campaign topic was mentioned, as was the importance of supporting people’s mental health.



Several people said that they would like to receive regular newsletters and had useful suggestions about how we could communicate to wider sections of communities that may not know about Barnwood already, including working with other organisations to help with the dissemination.

We heard suggestions that we should tell the stories of past funding examples to help with people knowing what are able to apply for. We were also told that we should continue to share feedback that we get from events such as this. This is really important to us and will definitely be something we concentrate on.

Overall, we were told to be more visible which is something we will definitely take on board.


Barnwood Circle

Attendees were in agreement that it is important that a wide range of disabled people and people with mental health conditions are involved in Barnwood Circle to help steer its work.  Some suggested we reach out to more rural communities; to meet people where they are; to start using libraries for some meetups; and to keep checking that we are not excluding certain groups of people.  We heard an idea to include more people with a learning disability, autism or who feel uneasy attending meetings.  There was a suggestion to enable new people to shadow someone at their first Barnwood Circle meetup.  Hidden disabilities were also highlighted and the fact that not everyone is comfortable with the label of disability and so might not come forward.

There were encouraging comments about Barnwood continuing to involve and listen to people respectfully, and to keep developing our support so disabled people can take part.  There was also a request to pay people for their time.  Barnwood has a payment policy and expenses policy for Experts by Lived Experience who collaborate with us on projects, we would be happy to chat through how that works at Barnwood, email us at to find out more.


Learning events

We were told that we should continue to involve Experts by Experience in our learning, and that people liked that our learning comes from different people’s perspectives and experiences. We are committed to commissioning disabled people’s led organisations to deliver learning with us, and to paying people with lived experience to contribute to our learning.

People also felt that building networks around our learning events is something we should do, and we have been able to do this through our Access to Nature work, and our Creating Change group to support action from learning.

We were reminded about the importance of delivering accessible learning events where, for example, participants are encouraged to move around when they need to, making time for discussion and feeding back. As we develop the learning programme this year, accessibility will be at the forefront of our planning from booking, through to facilitation and evaluation.

There was a request to develop learning for organisations to develop strategic approaches to funding and project sustainability. This is not something that will feature in our learning programme but our Strategic Development Managers are able to signpost to organisations who provide support with this.


Bringing people together

There were a lot of positive comments about how Barnwood Trust hosts events to bring people together.  We heard suggestions for the future including networking events, supportive events for organisations, especially where there is cross-over in activities, and more events like ‘Together with Barnwood’ to share what we are doing.

Someone commented that the purpose of bringing people together always needs to be clear to make this worthwhile.

Some people said that meeting in person rather than zoom was best for them, others liked the idea of more hybrid meetings.

The ‘Together with Barnwood’ event itself was a huge success and had a great mix of attendees especially those that hadn’t attended previously, so much so that it was suggested that we increase the capacity for 2023. There were some suggestions raised about venue accessibility.

We heard that Barnwood could do more to include the Deaf community by producing event invites in BSL (British Sign Language), making more signage available on the day and funding for BSL interpreters as a matter of course. PA support and interpreter costs are already available for Barnwood events so please get in touch if you would like to know more.

There was also some learning for us about the format of the ‘Together with Barnwood’ event. Attendees found the presentations given by the speakers really interesting, however some people did struggle with the noise levels and the speed. We have taken this on board and the format will be simplified in future events. Everyone who attended was very engaged with the content and liked seeing and hearing from staff members and about the Trust.

If you have anything to add to anything that you have heard, or read, please get in touch. You can email us on and we can direct you to the best team to speak to.

If you require the above information in a different format, please let us know.