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1: Keep your eyes open: the world is full of free or cheap resources.  The trick is to have in your mind what you are currently wanting to improve, and checking regularly whether what you are seeing, hearing, looking at or working with will help you.  For those who know our training, having a course on tackling difficult behaviours led us to see the simple toy ‘donkey on a plinth’ as a marvellous metaphor for the points we were trying to get across.

As an example of this approach, I regularly run this activity.  We usually have cabaret style seating on our courses, and often tea, coffee and water is provided throughout the day.  Some time into the session I ask all participants to draw a perfect circle.  Most attempt to do this freehand.  Some, however, look around them, and see saucers, or paper cups….and use these resources to trace a ‘perfect’ circle…

2: Ask shops for donations: if you don’t ask, you don’t get.  I regularly explain my role, and ask shops if, in return for a positive mention, they will provide me with some prizes to give out.  The last time I did this was with the stationery supplier, Staples, and their manager gave me two carrier bags to fill…..

3: Intercept friends and relations’ clear outs: most of us have ‘clear outs’, where we throw stuff away or give it to charity shops.  Ask everyone to alert you before they throw anything away.  You can be more specific – for example, games, toys, CDs, books…..

4: Make them: I know this sounds very ‘blue peter’ ish, but these days it’s quite easy to make resources.  I’ve created a few games simply by guillotining card into playing card size, and putting typed labels on them.  Spend a day in the shopping centre, or a craft shop, and see if you are inspired….

5: Swap: how about putting a page on your intranet – or even use this site – where you are willing to swap a resource (eg a training or activity you have devised) in return for one from someone else?.  A colleague, Kate Benson, and I have written a group training manual containing 96 activities.  Most of those we devised ourselves, and some we gathered from other friends and colleagues.  There is a lot of material out there – you just need to set up some kind of exchange.  How about one of you, reading this, setting up a wiki or blog that will be a central location for such swaps….?

6: Download: the internet is a vast Aladdin’s cave of resources.  Almost anything you want, that’s 2-D, is freely available.  It is very easy to make picture quizzes, for example, on any topic.  I recently ran a residential for Bolton teenagers, and as an icebreaker, ran a quiz based on photos from in and around their town centre.  Once upon a time I would have physically had to go to the town and take the pictures.  This time it was 20 minutes on the internet…

7: Resources Fair: how about organising a ‘resources fair’, where people are invited, at a particular time, to bring in resources, to either swap, give away or demonstrate?  I can imagine this working for schools or colleges, or large companies….a sort of car boot sale, without any selling….

8: Resources Team Day: another idea for schools and colleges.  On staff development days, instead of having a training session or guest speaker, have a half-day where the team discusses, shares and creates new resources….

9: Champion ‘Scrounger’: have you seen the film ‘The Great Escape’?  The James Garner character was ‘the Scrounger’ – good at getting the resources needed by the escape team.  Give someone the job of being ‘chief scrounger’ for your team – perhaps on a rotational basis.

10: Trade: Here’s an example of how this works.  I once attended an end-of-year show for an Arts and Design degree.  The objects were fabulous, and for sale, but were only on view in a regularly used classroom, for a week.  I mentioned to the organiser that these should be on longer display, and he said that gallery space was too expensive to hire. Later that week I was working at a local hospital.  The waiting area was very dowdy, with lots of empty wall space….and that made me think.  I brought the manager of the waiting area and the head of the degree show together, and within a week the waiting space was full of wonderful artwork, some of which later was bought by the passing public.  The trade worked because no money changed hands, and both managers were delighted with what they gave and got back in return.  The trick of this suggestion is to see, and value, something that you have that others might want, and trade it in return for something that others have, and value, that you might want.

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We know it’s a faff
And a bit of a pain;
But it really helps us
Stay on top of our game…

We know it’s a faff
And a bit of a pain;
But it really helps us
Stay on top of our game…

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