Photo of a group of people listening to a speaker in the Moat Suite at Hatherley Manor

‘What we heard’ at Together with Barnwood 2023

We held Together with Barnwood 2023 at Hatherley Manor Hotel on Thursday 21st November. The purpose of this annual sharing event is to share Barnwood’s strategy and work activity in 2023, and hear ideas, suggestions, and reflections to improve key projects going forward.

After hearing an opening presentation from Ann Santry, Chair of the Board if Trustees, attendees went into different breakout sessions to explore some questions facing the work of the Trust going forward. If you would like to watch a short film which features clips from the day please click on this link.

The following is a summary of what we heard.

How Barnwood ‘listens and learns’

We hear what people think in several different ways. This includes surveys, group conversations, at events, social media and via partner organisations. We want to encourage a wider range of people to share their views.

In small groups, we discussed the different engagement methods people had seen or used that could work for Barnwood, and what other opportunities there are to listen and learn about people’s experiences in Gloucestershire. What we heard will help both the Insights Team and Engagement Team when planning future listening in the county.

What we heard:

  • People mostly prefer face-to-face discussions in small focus groups or interactive workshops, with an opportunity to connect with other people.
  • A clear purpose and good follow-up afterwards were felt to be important.
  • Outreach came up a lot – reaching people where they are, by attending community events and collaborating with community leaders.
  • Storytelling was suggested as a tool to amplify people’s voices.
  • A big theme was accessibility. People talked about offering print and digital options for people to choose.
  • And more is needed to overcome language barriers.
  • Many tables talked about Barnwood Trust promoting itself more widely as a good foundation for engagement.
  • In addition, we heard appreciation for Barnwood Circle, the Trust’s membership scheme.
  • Finally, some suggested we look nationally to get ideas.


Image of a table discussing in front of the screen showing Slido word cloud used to capture the thoughts of all table discussions.

How Barnwood talks about disability

Disability can be talked about in two ways: the medical model and the social model. Barnwood Trust uses the social model for many aspects of its work. We want to understand how others talk about this in the county.

We facilitated small group discussions and recorded what we were told on word clouds. We asked whether there are times when using the either the social model or the medical model is helpful, and what needs to happen across Gloucestershire to see more of the social model in practice.

What we heard:

  • The medical model is still the most widely used way of understanding disability, but it is not helpful to think of the medical and social models as either/or. There is a place for both.
  • The medical model is helpful to ensure we get services we need to get the right support. And labels can help to know what you are dealing with and get the right assessment.
  • But if we only look at disability through the medical model it can limit what people can do. Sometimes the medical model is used to make assumptions both about what people need and what is possible.
  • Seeing disability through the social model can open up opportunities.
  • It is important to see the person behind the disability: some conditions may provide different barriers for different people. We need to see the whole person, and not make assumptions.
  • Invisible disabilities need to be taken into account more in social model practice too – don’t assume someone isn’t facing barriers if you can’t see their disability.
  • There was a call for Barnwood to be bolder about pressing organisations that it funds to take more of a social model approach to what they do and to look more at how they can reduce barriers.
  • Taking a social model approach improves life for everyone.

Screenshot of the screen showing Slido word cloud used to capture the thoughts of discussions on tables.

How Barnwood funds organisations

Barnwood Trust gives funding to organisations to help us meet our strategic goals. We are thinking about the balance of this funding in the future.

We facilitated discussions and asked people to position themselves along a line to indicate whether Barnwood should prioritise open funding for organisations to do any kind of work that meets our goals; or whether it should prioritise themed funding for specific topics decided by Barnwood, based on research.

What we heard:

  • Whilst some favoured either end of the scale, most people said there was a place for both approaches.
  • Open funding allows organisations to be reactive, and also enables them to plan long-term.
  • Learning what works in themed funding can help shape priorities for open funding
  • Regardless of approach, the Trust needs to communicate what and how it funds clearly and loudly.


How Barnwood make its investments

How Barnwood invests its money has a big impact on the work we are able to do at the Trust. The Board of Trustees are doing some work to think about the future investment strategy. Barnwood Trust does not fundraise. It relies on an investment portfolio to generate income which is used to deliver its work – to fund and influence change on disability and mental health issues in Gloucestershire.

Barnwood Trust can invest with a focus on getting the biggest possible return on investments. This could mean there are more funds to spend in Gloucestershire. But this may also mean investing in things which have a negative impact on people and the planet.

At the other end of this scale, Barnwood Trust can invest with an ethical approach. This could mean investing in things which have a positive impact on people and the planet. But this may also mean getting a smaller return on investments, meaning fewer funds to spend in Gloucestershire.

We facilitated discussions and asked should Barnwood Trust be investing to get the biggest possible return to fund its work, or investing as ethically as possible?

What we heard

  • The majority of people said there should be a balance between ‘profits’ and ‘ethics’.
  • The funding climate is currently difficult for VCSEs so Barnwood’s funding is important.
  • It’s important not to take too many risks in order to ensure there are funds to meet financial commitments.
  • ‘Ethical’ means different things to different people
  • Barnwood’s investments should reflect its values

three individuals in a small huddle talking with other huddles of discussion behind them scattered across the room,