Facilitation training with Parents Centres New Zealand


30 volunteers from across the country joined together in Christchurch in October to participate in a weekend of training, the focus of which was 'volunteer magnetism' and 'communication'. 

Joan Hay, Manager, Capability and Development said, "It was a great weekend of sharing together, interacting with volunteers across 15 Centres and taking home some useful tips to put into practice." 

Feedback from the sessions was glowing, including:

“The weekend has been really informative and positive and inspired me again!  It’s really hit home the importance of having a plan and setting goals and focusing on the personal side of the committee and finding out where everyone is at and how they feel.”

“Exceptionally good weekend, very valuable both personally and in relation to me and my current role within my Centre.  The interactive sessions were superstar!  Interacting with the other Centres was invaluable and it was reassuring to know that we don’t need to re-create any wheels. Lots and lots of stuff I’m busting to discuss and implement – thank you!”

"I feel motivated again and I am going to go back to our Centre to get the motivation renewed!”


Facilitation Training - an overview

What do you do when,  in a parent education programme or perhaps a committee meeting, you are confronted with a difficult question, a difficult situation or even a difficult personality?  There’s so much to think about and so much that goes through your mind and yes, it can become a very challenging situation. What to do, what to say, how to manage this whole experience?

Facilitation training can provide an answer.  Facilitation training explores many of these types of situations and gives ideas and techniques to try and what techniques can be implemented as preventions and interventions.

Whether it’s a meeting, a parenting programme, large or small, someone has to shape and guide the process of how the group will work together.  A good facilitator will be able to guide people through the process and doesn’t have to have all the knowledge.   Many people think the facilitator is the person who is the ‘seat of wisdom’ and has all the answers.  No, not the case – the facilitator should have the skills to ensure that a group interacts effectively, has a clear purpose and outcome and works towards an agreed goal, all the time ensuring that the group interacts in a participatory and respectful way.   

It is important to understand that facilitation is not about being a counsellor, nor is it about being an educator or a trainer. There is a clear difference and once you have the skills to facilitate effectively, you can work with many different types of groups or situations.   Facilitation is more than a “group agreement”.

Why do volunteers need facilitation skills? If Centres want to effectively plan, have everyone involved  and create great leadership learning and opportunities, then facilitation is a strong and a right “fit” within Parents Centre.   Good facilitators can empower others and encourage people to be involved – this can be within a committee environment, a work environment or as a parent working with other parents.  Facilitation is a skill and an art.  Within Parents Centre we provide an opportunity for volunteers and members to come together through these workshops to try out skills, to learn new skills and to understand what the art of facilitation is all about!  Participants can learn techniques and can improve their own abilities through practice, practice and more practice.  Before the practicing starts it’s important to know the basics of good facilitation and that’s what Parents Centre offers.

We’ve run a number of facilitation training weekends across the organisation for volunteers, prison facilitators and those wishing to run the conscious parenting programmes.  We have further upcoming opportunities in 2015. If you’re interested please contact me at development@parentscentre.org.nz for more information.    

 If you want to know more about the art of facilitation and extend your learning and your experience and perhaps even to add something to your own CV, then contact me to find out more. You won’t be disappointed with the experience.    

Joan Hay, Manager Capability and Development