Believe or not the Transition Health Check is not about measuring everyone’s blood pressure in your Transition group or seeing how fit you all are. It’s actually a great tool for you to use to see how your group is doing, one that many Transition groups have already found to be really useful. It is very important to state upfront that the Health Check is there to help your group, it is not a test that you pass or fail. Over the next few weeks we hope to hear from some groups who have already done the Health Check for their reflections.
A healthy group
Interestingly the similarities between a healthy human body and a healthy Transition group are both about taking an holistic view of what is happening in order to prevent problems by checking that all the different parts are working well. The Health Check is based around the following elements of the Transition support offer. It has been shown through research, actual experience and feedback that if a group covers these they are more likely to be successful, sustainable and healthy:
The Transition Animal
Sometimes we compare a healthy initiative to a healthy animal, different parts of its body representing different aspects of what makes Transition successful (see right for one artists impression of The Transition Animal, looking a rather like a four-legged Pikachu…):
- Four legs: A Transition initiative needs to have legs to walk and move in the right direction. The 4 essential legs needed to help make Transition a reality are; a well functioning group that gets things done and looks after itself, engagement with your local community, having a range of partners and being involved in a range of networks and running practical projects that demonstrate Transition on a practical level.
- Heart: We also need a healthy inner life when doing Transition and take care not to burn out. The heart brings values and principles that help us to take care of ourselves and each other – creating a positive culture, giving time to reflect together and checking on our energy levels and personal sustainability.
- Vision: It is very hard to see where you’re going without eyes, in the same way that it is difficult to see what it is you are trying to achieve without having a vision.
- A wagging tale: A happy animal often has a wagging tail, so a Transition group should be having fun, enjoying what it is doing and take time to socialise.
All of these elements add up to a healthy animal, that is not to say that an animal cannot function if it doesn’t have all of these things, but it does make it more difficult. This is the same for a group they can definitely function without some of these aspects, but it will be more effective and happier if it has all of these in place.
It’s not a test
As stated above the Healthcheck is not a test. It is a tool that has been designed to help your Transition initiative to reflect on where it has got to through sparking conversations about what’s working well and what could be strengthened. It also helps you to celebrate your strengths and successes and to identify areas which might need more work, or skills, or resources. As it is linked into the new Support Offer, you can access support activities on our website for any of the areas that you want to spend some time on.
All about discussion
Many groups have found that using the Health Check raises lots of questions, and sometimes the discussion it starts supplies the answers. The focus is on the how your initiative is doing. This is not to say that you have to cover all of them, or you should feel bad if you aren’t doing aspects of them as many groups take time to develop. Also, some aspects may just not be relevant for your group. The whole point of the tool is to help your group to come to its own conclusions about how it is doing and what it can do to develop in the future.
Every Transition initiative is different in the mix of people involved, the opportunities and challenges of your context, and the external events that influence people to join, or not. We hope the result of doing the health check is that you celebrate what you have achieved rather than feeling overwhelmed with what hasn’t happened. No initiative that we know of could achieve a perfect score- and we’d be worried if it did!
People like it
We have run the Health Check as part of the Thrive Training and in support workshops with groups who have been struggling and it has always been a positive experience with people getting a lot out of it. Recently we did a workshop on the health check at Penwith Roadshow and one person carried out the Healthcheck for 2 different groups she had been involved in looking at community engagement. One of the groups had been running a long time and one was relatively new. It highlighted how much more the older group was engaged in the community.
This showed that it can take time to build that engagement, but also that it would be worth looking at what the group had done to build that engagement to see what could be learnt. There is no reason why any group wanting to engage people around a positive project couldn’t use the Health Check – why not try using it with other groups you are involved with?
Many people have said it’s given them a broader, more complete view of what Transition is – even if it’s not possible to do everything. Others find that just reflecting together brings a lot of energy and learning which re-invigorates the group.
Try it out
So give it a go and see what you think. You can download the health check here.
We recommend that Transition initiatives, whether the Core Group or whichever working groups feel it would be useful or both, do the health check once a year, though you can do it as regularly as you want, if you feel like it. We would love to hear from you what you thought of it and on the bottom of health check page is a short survey where you can feedback to us your comments and thoughts.