Blog: Sharing power to unleash social change

An anonymous member of our Losing Control Action Learning Sets (ALS) shares their reflections below  around participating in an ALS and how ALS  and peer support may help you look at your issues or challenges with a new light.

ALS are a powerful process through which a diverse group of practitioners come together and through reflection, listening and questioning to work through issues, sharing ideas and challenging perceptions in a supportive environment. ALS are a structured method enabling small groups to address complicated issues by meeting regularly and working collectively. 


Sharing power to unleash social change

To be honest, being told ‘this is the way things are done’ makes me feel like I’ve hit a brick wall mentally. When you are working on a community project, which the very essence is about giving local people control, as a worker it feels so disempowering to not to be able to challenge the way things are done.

It was a luxury to be able to raise this issue through an on-line Losing Control Action Learning Set recently. A luxury, because 5 other people who I had never met before listened to my problem and gave me 1.5. hours of their time to help me work though the issue I had raised. Today, very rarely do we have the luxury of other people’s time without having to pay for it!

The beauty of the Action Learning Set, lies within its structure- I wasn’t able to emotional regurgitate the issue as I may do with my trusted colleagues- I had to really think about the issues as the rest of the set ask me questions to clarify the issues.

After the clarification of the issues the other members of the set get to ask you open questions that very cleverly open up your thought processes and maybe look upon your issue within a new light- ‘Who have you spoken to about this issue, how can you inspire others to influence their thinking, what time can you dedicate to it? – are the type of questions being asked, it can feel intense, a little bit like being in a job interview and not knowing the answers. 

After a set period of time (people do have jobs to get back to) you agree some action points which you need to report on at the next meeting (usually in 6 weeks time).

The shift in my perspective after the set was sublime, it took me away from seeing the problem as black and white to having options and actions to act upon in a positive way.

Our issues in the learning set seem to be rooted in ‘the way things are done’. The process of budgeting, setting plans and reporting to our funders are control mechanisms that most of us have to meld into work with communities. It just takes a timing difference to happen where we find we are having to write an action plan on behalf of the community we support without including them in the process, it feels like a backward approach .As peers ,how much power do we choose to share and the action learning set is a good way of examining that.

Action Learning sets if attended regularly allows us to see that’ this is the way things of done’ because our issues are so similar but is also allows us to challenge the system and dare others to do it differently. I highly recommend joining and action learning set -the value of other people’s time and attention to support you – is priceless!


If you would like to join a Losing Control Action Learning Set – get in touch with karen@thesocialchangeagency.org as we look to set up more in the future. 

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