The Heves County Parents’ Association of People with Multiple Disabilities has recently started to set up a mentoring network whose aim would be to provide companionship and help to parents who raise people with multiple disabilities. The Association commissioned the School of Public Life to organize trainings to help foster this preparatory process. With lectures and the help of interactive games on 11 October 2014 we offered the first training on mentoring to appr. 20 members of the organization and on 11 December 2014 another one about how to moderate talks and meetings, again, together with Bernadett Sebály, community organizer from Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (Hungarian abbr. TASZ) who had long been supporting the activities of the Parents’ Association.
As of January 2015 the group would organize without external help so it was essential its members prepared to moderate the group’s meetings and discussions in a really effective way, that is, ensuring all participants’ real chances to express their opinions plus supporting collective decision-makings. First through case-studies we gained experiences on what could precisely happen if a conversation, whose 10 to 15 participants would in the end have to come to a collective decision, had not been moderated. On the basis of what we had previously experienced in these exercises we then listed the different roles of the moderator, what her/his duties are, what s/he has to pay specific attention to during the meetings.
Then, we listed the specific skills a good moderator has to have or specifically to have trained in order to lead a talk well; nobody is born a good moderator that is, these skills need a lot of training and attention.
Finally the members of the association tried different types of moderation techniques in a new set of situation exercises and we discussed what hardships the moderator faces and that how s/he can tackle these situations.
It was a great pleasure for us to be a part of the formation of the mentoring network since we here at the School of Public Life all believe that the strengthening of similar grassroot communities and civil initiatives is going to be the key to Hungary’s social transformation. If our trainings were to be a however small part of this transformation, it was already worth offering them. (And we, too, had a great time.)
Good luck to all the parents involved in this project!