External Training Events

Forthcoming Training Courses for Clerks, Officers and Councillors from Breakthrough Communications

All of the below events are available all year round, normally with three dates to pick from. Town / Parish Clerks have been sent details on how to book. All places are £35.00 pp

How your council communicates with itself and with the wider community:

Building a communications strategy for your council's public-facing communications

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course for Councillors

To get the most from an increasing range of communications platforms and tools, it’s vital that your Council has a strategy that supports the delivery of your Council’s existing aims and objectives. We walk you through best practice for creating an effective communications strategy that  fits with the needs and aspirations of your Council

Improving internal communication across your local council

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course for Councillors

Effective internal communication is the cornerstone of good council operations, yet ensuring the sustainability of good internal communication can be a challenge. This session explores strategies to identify gaps and challenges and ways to build more positive and outcome-focused communications between Members and Officers.

Building a two-way conversation with the wider community

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course suitable for Councillors

This session will help you consider practical and effective ways for your Council to systematically and proactively find out what really matters to people. Discover the tools, strategies and techniques needed to better promote your own messages but also to better respond to the voices within your local community.

How to effectively engage with young people in your community

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course for Councillors

Young people can be a challenging demographic for councils to reach and engage with. We explore the issues that matter to young people, how to effectively reach and engage with them both online and offline, and how to build partnerships with them to improve your community and the work of your council.

Recruiting new councillors: strategies and tactics to find new people

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course for Councillors

How can you effectively find and encourage people to stand or be co-opted as town or parish Councillors? In many areas it is increasingly hard to find people who are willing to put their names forward either at election time or to be co-opted. We show you effective ways Councils and Councillors can encourage more people to come forward and this interactive session explores practical ways to do just that.

 

Using digital communication to engage with the community:

Creating an effective social media strategy for your council

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course suitable for Councillors

Social media provides town and parish Councils a unique opportunity to significantly enhance their communications – yet few councils have a clear social media strategy in place.  This course looks at how to build a social media strategy that seeks to promote your services and key council priorities and considers which social media channels are best suited to help you achieve your goals, what tools to use, and more.

Using Facebook to enhance your Council’s Communications with the community

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course suitable for Councillors

Facebook provides town and parish Councils a unique opportunity to significantly enhance their communications – yet few Councils are fully reaping the benefits on offer. Discover how to build up effective two-way conversations with local communities, make use of time-saving tools and learn techniques to improve digital engagement, all within the constraints of existing Officer time and resources.

Beyond Facebook: how councils can make use a range of social media platforms

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course suitable for Councillors

More and more Councils are looking to use a range of social media platforms in order to increase their digital reach into the community. In this practical session we look at how Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and Next Door in particular can help councils take their social media presence to the next level, where to go to start and how to get the most from each platform.

Creating accessible council documents and content across different media

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers

This session is all about the practical application of accessibility, and will provide you with an understanding of the application of accessibility from the perspective of a local council. We will teach you how to create accessible documents, content and multimedia for use for use throughout the work of your council. This session will review the basic principles of accessibility, and walk you through tools and techniques to ensure your council is working towards accessibility compliance.

Social Media Skills for Councillors

  • Course suitable for Councillors

Social media provides councillors an opportunity to engage and communicate with their residents. Building up two-way conversations through the power of digital platforms has never been easier, but it can be tricky to get started and to know where to focus your time and effort as an individual Councillor. We walk you through the essential ways to get the most out of key social media platforms as a local Councillor, and provide top tips to engage with your residents.

Data Protection and Freedom of Information

  • Data Protection for Clerks & Officers
  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers

In an ever-evolving legislative landscape, it is vital that Councils ensure they have the most up-to-date understanding of their data protection obligations. This session walks Councils through the principles of GDPR and related legislation, what it means in practical terms for local councils and the policies, systems and processes Councils should have in place to ensure they are working towards sustainable compliance.

Data Protection for Councillors

  • Course suitable for Councillors 

Whether you are an experienced Councillor or have only recently been elected, it is vital that you understand how data protection fits with your role as an elected member. With legislation and case law evolving, this interactive session will provide you with an opportunity to make sure you are getting the essentials right and ensure you are meeting your legal obligations as a Councillor.

Freedom of Information for Clerks & Officers

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers

This course looks at what requirements and obligations local councils have when it comes to Freedom of Information and related legislation including EIR. We look at what policies and procedures councils should have in place, how to ensure officers and councillors are aware of their obligations and what steps to take when you get an FOI request, and what exemptions may potentially apply and when.

 

Chairmanship, Interpersonal Skills and Diversity within your Council:

Managing difficult people and conversations

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers

Managing professional relationships effectively is important, and this is particularly true for Clerks and local council officers. Yet whether it’s with other officers or with councillors, sometimes difficult situations will present themselves, and it’s vital to have the skills to manage the challenges. This session for local council officers explores practical techniques and ideas to manage difficult relationships in a council environment.

Emotional resilience skills for council officers

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers

Why do some people handle whatever life throws at them, while others tend to struggle? The answer is resilience. Resilience is the ability to recover from the inevitable problems that life throws at us. This session will focus on increasing your resilience and managing it as part of your wellbeing. Looking at self-care and self-awareness, we will lead you in the first steps to improving your resilience and developing a resilience journal.

Equality and diversity within your council

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course suitable for Councillors

This session will explore protected characteristics, the difference between direct and indirect discrimination and the definitions of equality, diversity and inclusion – and how these relate to the internal and external work of parish and town councils, as well as raising awareness of issues around diversity and equality within the council.

Public Speaking Skills for Councillors

  • Course suitable for Councillors

Public speaking can be daunting, even for experienced Councillors. With the advent of virtual meetings, it’s more important that Councillors feel confident to effectively communicate with residents at public or virtual events. Our experts will guide you through techniques and strategies to help you speak in public with flair, confidence and authenticity.

Chairmanship Skills: How to Chair Virtual Meetings & Events

  • Course suitable for Councillors

Public speaking can be daunting, even for experienced Councillors. With the advent of virtual meetings, it’s more important that Councillors feel confident to effectively communicate with residents at public or virtual events. Our experts will guide you through techniques and strategies to help you speak in public with flair, confidence and authenticity.

Chairmanship Skills: How to Chair in-person Meetings and Events Effectively

  • Course suitable for Councillors

Whether you are an experienced Council or committee Chair, or whether you are new to the role, getting the most from Virtual Meetings can be a real challenge for us all. We walk you through strategies to get the most out of your meetings, get the most from your fellow Members and how to ensure that technology works for you, not against you.

 

Dealing with the Media

How to get started and build relationships with your local media

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course suitable for Councillors

Traditional media offers Parish and Town Councils a platform to engage and communicate with their residents, but engaging journalists can be daunting. We help you build the confidence needed to succeed, exploring how you can build effective two-way relationships with journalists.

Communicating through a crisis: how to manage a crisis from a comms perspective

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course suitable for Councillors

We never know when a crisis could strike. From local flooding to a council meeting going viral there are many ways in which local councils can find themselves in the eye of the media storm. This session takes participants through the detail of preparing for a crisis no matter what form it may take.

How to prepare for TV and radio interviews and how to get your message across

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course suitable for Councillors

This session is designed for officers and councillors who want to be better prepared for appearing on broadcast media – principally TV and radio. We share the secrets of preparing for interviews and techniques for dealing effectively with getting your message across. 

Writing effective press releases to get good local press coverage

  • Course suitable for Clerks & Officers
  • Course suitable for Councillors

In this session we will explore the skill of writing a press release that will both get your council the coverage you are looking for and also convey the messages you want to get across. Participants will go away with a much deeper understanding of how to construct your press releases and what is most effective in getting good coverage.


Spark Somerset Training Events:

Spark Somerset provide information, advice, training and support to the voluntary and community sector in South Somerset, Mendip and Sedgemoor. See their website for current training events: Spark Website


Parish Online Training:

A free, online user group has been created for users and potential users of the Parish Online software. Parish Online enables parishes to maintain their Asset Register, and add any number of new layers of data, to an interactive digital map of the local parish, and comes with built-in layers showing parish boundaries, areas subject to flooding, aerial survey photographs, and Grade II listed houses, to name just a few. Parish Online is used by more than 1,200 councils in the UK, to produce Neighbourhood Plans, help with Planning Applications, and any number of features of interest to the local community such as Registered Footpaths, Tree Preservation Orders, Road Works. A particularly useful feature is the ability to export any part of the map in web format, for easy addition to the parish website. A free, 90-day trial of the software is available from https://www.parish-online.co.uk/

The user group, known as PUGS (Parish Online User Group for Somerset), exists to help users with issues, to demonstrate what can be done - and how - and to provide feedback to the software publishers for improvements. PUGS Clinics are held at least monthly, and demonstrations of Parish Online are provided upon request - via Zoom. PUGS is run by Graham Stoddart-Stones, himself a Parish Councillor in Long Sutton. Please contact him at gcstones52@gmail.com for further information. PUGS - Website

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