Chaired by Sankofa Small
Minutes by Bel Calaguas
16.34 start, 18.05 end
Sankofa Small (SS) – Chair
Bel Calaguas (BC) – Minute taker
Aileen Hamdan (AH)
Eileen Monero/Jason Monero (EM/JM)
Louise Holloway (LH)
Margret Barker (MB)
Flavia Columba (FC)
Wendy Small (WS)
Marilyn Moseley (MM)
Catherine Furlong (CF)
(Lenka Jackivova – sent in suggestions to Aileen by email)
- Minutes – Matters arising
- Minutes of last meeting are not yet available. It will be sent out as info and will be dealt with at next meeting. (Action point for AH)
2. Business Matters
2.1 BC On Business Plan – Proposal to constitute a working group led by Louise H to develop a plan for reaching out to secondary schools, 6th form colleges in Waltham Forest and universities in/out of the borough to teach tai chi and qi gong to young people. The discussion would be around what the Terms of Reference and objectives of the working group would be, what product we would like them to produce and by when.
The focus is on Goal 2 of the Business Plan, which was approved in March 2023. The Working Group would map out what DL need to do and how we will work towards and make progress on Goal 2. The Board and volunteer students can then work together on implementing the plan. Goal 2 is to “Engage young people to be lifelong practitioners of Tai Chi/Qigong and support youth mental wellbeing.” The target for the next 5 years is to have schools programmes in 2 Sixth Form Colleges, 3-4 secondary schools in the borough, and tertiary (university/higher learning). The working group would be like a sub-committee of the Board working on this one task, to some agreed deadline.
LH: From my professional experience in QMUL, there is an acknowledgement young people have a serious need for active engagement with self-care. They need to build their resilience, build up their understanding of what negatively affects them and how to care for themselves. Tai Chi and Qigong could be useful in this effort at enabling better self-care and improving wellbeing for students. Apart from QMUL, I have other connections, eg with UEL in Stratford. (And there is the University of Portsmouth that is opening classes in the borough.) There won’t be a shortage of students. It’s more about how to engage them.
Some of our senior and new students would have some professional experiences of schools, and would know how to access 6th form colleges (eg, Anne Faal’s name was mentioned) and secondary schools (Pat Cutler’s name was mentioned) and what steps to take.
CF: dealing with under-18s, there is the whole DBS issue we need to take on board.
Action point: LH to draft message and call for volunteers for the working group. All DL communication channels will be used to promote this: WhatsApp groups, email and in classes. Board and teachers to encourage people who are interested to get in touch with LH. LH will set a first meeting for the Working Group. The intention is for the WG to meet at least twice to agree their ToRs, draft the plan and send it for discussion at the next quarterly Board meeting (in January 2024), where the draft plan could receive more inputs.
3.1 BC For information: The Board will be reviewing the organisation’s constitution and will report back to the students to share its discussions and proposals on ways forward. We are looking to expand the membership of the Board in 2024 and may need to update Dao Lu’s constitution as part of this process.
This is currently under discussions at the monthly board meetings. Recommendations or anything that require decisions will be discussed either at a special meeting or regular quarterly board meeting (eg, in January 2024).
3.2 AH For information: The board upskilling annual programme with Enfield Enterprise.
Board members come from different professional backgrounds. We are currently going through a programme of upskilling with Enfield Enterprise, which services community and voluntary groups in Waltham Forest and 2 other boroughs. Part of the upskilling includes digital marketing skills, financial planning and other topics. The sessions are delivered by experts that develop a bespoke plan to help us. We also have a suite of information that we still must engage with for online learning. The programme is for a year. We would like any of our students who may be interested to take advantage of the materials and expert advice (eg, Karolina was mentioned as interested in the digital marketing modules). We can share access to password-protected materials, for example.
Action point: AH will send out information to students, including topics in the upskilling sessions. All Board members are expected to promote and suggest students who may want to take advantage of the programme. AH will speak directly to individuals who are interested.
4.1 SS For Information: South Chingford Methodist Church, Repair & Refresh Pilot Qigong and Tai Chi Project (10-week course). Running costs: venue hire – £20/hour (paid from a donation to Dao Lu for 45-52 weeks of classes); Instructor cost – £27.50/hr. In addition, class set-up cost includes marketing (website, flyers).
The class has started, Thursdays, 6-7pm at South Chingford Methodist Church. Currently, Sankofa is teaching Qigong. To date, 9 people have registered but not all attend at same time. Promotion included listing in latest U3A newsletter, leafletting in the area, flyers in the local library, church and via the health and wellbeing session at the Chingford Medical Centre and posting on Nextdoor online group. Of 9 registered, 2 are DL members (from Tuesday Yang class), a few have attended both the Memorial Park Qigong sessions (L&Q funded) and the Leyton Tai Chi for Life project. Some attendees pay concession rate.
Since the class is at the same time as 2 other DL classes, no DL volunteers are available to help. To date, this is manageable for SS.
4.2 SS For Information: Leyton Sports Ground, Health is Wealth Pilot Tai Chi & Qigong Project (10-week course), Friday, 1.00 – 2.00pm. Running costs: venue hire £37.50/hr, Instructor £27.50 = £65.00 total cost to DL to run the class. In addition, class set-up cost includes marketing (website, flyers).
Itricia Byers is teaching introduction to Tai Chi. To date, 13 people are registered. Of this number, 3 people have come from TC for Life, 3 attend Repair & Refresh in South Chingford, 3 have attended Memorial Park Saturday sessions. Promoted through health and wellbeing events in Walthamstow, Chingford and in Leyton, and via Nextdoor online group. Volunteers: Eileen, Jason, Lenka, Hemma, Jasmine, Jacey.
Leyton is a low-income neighbourhood. More people pay the £3.50 concession rate than the full rate (£7/hour). Some have paid for the full course (10 weeks).
AH: At present, concern over whether the class is breaking even/covering its own costs. There is a need to push up the numbers of attendees who pay. 2 suggestions: go back to SS’s connections/relationships with care home managers and social prescribers to get referrals to the class. Second suggestion is to work with Leyton-based DL students to look for a different, cheaper venue, eg, ask Hemma, et al for recommendations. An additional point, marketing costs are always absorbed into Dao Lu’s big “pool” budget at the outset. For future new class set-up, we need to include marketing costs to the budget, and include these costs in the review stage.
Action point: SS to look into the 2 suggestions from AH and implement. The class is under review. If at half-way point the class is still not breaking even, DL Board may decide to stop the class.
5.1 AH New income model – donations (for South Chingford class and for IT development).
This is a new income model for DL – getting donations from individuals (to date, £1000 for the South Chingford Methodist Church Hall hire, credit to BC and £400 donation from Adrienne for IT/Comms development). In Camden, a Tai Chi group received over £1000 donations from individuals to provide a bursary/subsidy for students who could not pay regular fees). We need to explore further how we can raise more funds through the individual donation model.
Action point: Call for volunteers from DL with experience/expertise on individual fundraising or crowdfunding or soliciting big one-off donations – to help us think through how we develop this fundraising model. Board will explore further with digital marketing expert during session in November. Board also needs to review ideas initially presented by Adrienne earlier in the year.
Action: Board will decide in the session with digital expert what to do in 2024 and who will lead on this stream.
5.2 EM For Information: Finance report and report on new members signed up in the last 6 months.
Eileen (EM) presented the finance report. Key highlights: Compared to last year, class fee income increased from +/-£34,000 (2022) to +/-£36,400 (2023) due to more new students and new classes thanks to Bel, Sankofa, Aileen. Although we lost Triangle House, Leytonstone students have moved on to the Fitness Hub. Income also increased from ASF payments due to follow-ups and more attention given to this. Grant income is down to £3,000 compared to £9,700 last year. Service contracts income is up to +/-£14,300 from =/-£12.700 last year.
Increased rental and teaching due to increased classes. But overall, our finances show a surplus.
New students: 2 new classes started by BC. From Wednesday, Addison Rd, 10 new regular students, 2 of whom pay drop-in; Trinity URC – 15 new regulars, 4 of whom pay drop-in. (In both classes, not all students have registered yet as DL students.) In other classes, we have also increased numbers by 9 new regular students.
To date, 60 students pay monthly and 11 students pay drop-in, excluding Joe’s classes. This is very good news, given last year, we were down to 28 students paying monthly. Net income for the year is now around £5,400.
AH & SS: On behalf of the Board, big THANK YOU to EM for taking over from Ewa. Eileen has embraced the role of treasurer – so efficient and consistent. Really brilliant job. Big thank you also to Ewa N for all the work and handover training to Eileen, and handover of the paperwork.
6. Media – Communication
6.1 BC – Feedback from students regarding use of Student Resources webpages and what else we could do to improve content on that site to encourage students to practice on their own.
FC – I use the Chen 18, the broadsword. I was looking at the 2nd form. I use it after the class to reinforce what I learn in the class.
EM – We use it for fan and Chen 18. Roy asking for tutorial video on stick form.
SS – There’s a demand for the Daoyin 12, I will provide the videos for this. Suggestion: Move to good quality tutorial videos of our own instructors teaching the forms – something for the future. This would be more relatable to see your own teachers in the video.
AH – Leytonstone class in Fitness Hub, at the end of the past 2 classes, we post a video of the particular tai chi movement – of a person, on the spot. This video is recorded by one of the students (Lenka) who records 3 different angles of a particular move, the 3 clips are then posted to the Fitness Hub WhatsApp group. For one lesson AH couldn’t teach, we reposted the practice videos with a breakdown of the moves they were to practise. They practised on their own, following the video of the lesson itself, of the instructor showing the moves. We can explore doing tutorial videos in this DIY method more.
LH – AH are you planning to do this in the other classes, say the Friday class? If it’s successful, we can do this. You could be putting up an Instagram post every day, for all DL to put up a post.
AH – Most of the students and those doing the additional instructor training use the Chen 18 form tutorial video. Want to reinforce that the video is used to complement the in-person class. Doing our own tutorial video and posting on Instagram, for example will involve extra time and will attract a lot of public comments, which we may have to monitor. In the future, when we review our subscriptions, we may consider including this task as extra work for teachers.
Action point: Board and students gather more feedback over next 3 months and after the Leytonstone festival. At the next quarterly Board meeting, let’s discuss how we do more of this DIY method and how we implement this.
6.2 AH – Feedback on the refining/standardisation of Forms in the last 6 months, especially around consistency or lack of between teachers of the form. Is standardisation okay, is there light at the end of the long dark tunnel?
JM – It’s a great improvement, minor changes. It’s going well. (Thank you to EM for supporting Jason).
FC – I’ve had difficulty with the standardising of the form at the beginning. Now I could go with the flow, I’ve got a grip on it. It’s been hard, but the outcome is positive.
LH – It’s positive, but there are still notable differences in different classes. At some point we need to differentiate between style difference and inconsistency in teaching substance of the steps. There seems to be differences of emphasis. But it’s getting close. It’s helpful and watching the videos helps us to understand it better.
AH – Style is like fashion, we need to live with it. We accept the frustration of the students. I circulated TC principles. It’s really about how instructors express the principles in their teaching. We wanted to iron out the differences especially with the lead instructors (Aileen and Aaron), but due to illness, this did not happen.
BC – Propose that for our community classes, perhaps we are not working toward precision (unlike for an instructor class where accuracy is the aim). But for community classes, focus on teaching the Tai Chi basic principles consistently across the classes: a) weight distribution and shifting weight; b) using the waist and the relationship between waist, arms and legs; c) breathing, energy and mental focus/use of imagery.
Action point: AH will take these points to the Nov 4 instructor training.
7.1 Lenka feedback: Incorporate more high-energy warm-ups into classes to increase strength and flexibility. There should be more challenging stretches, similar to those introduced by Aileen. Incorporate also self-awareness practice, martial arts moves to improve reflexes, etc.
SS – Draw Lenka’s attention to Joe’s Zoom-based Dao Lu classes on Saturdays, which are high-energy exercises and to Sam Ma’s Sunday fitness classes at Hornsey Vale Community Centre. These classes (4 Sundays in November, 3.00 – 5.00pm) are based on martial arts strength and flexibility practices. Give Lenka contact for Sam Ma or Meiling Wun for details of payments.
Action point: AH will take this point to the Instructors’ L&D, including looking at self-defence (martial art) elements in the standard teaching of TC forms (eg, teaching the defence/offense martial arts applications of TC moves). We could also look at her feedback from perspective of introducing more Push Hands practice into our community classes.
7.2 AH – Deyin Institute China trip – Oct 2024. 8 people expressed interest, half not sure.
Action point – AH will organise an initial Q&A session on Zoom with students by mid-November. This Q&A session will include students who have done it before and can share their experiences.
Action point – AH informed Tary about DL student interest. We will support our people to enjoy their experience.
7.3 AH Proposal – Xmas celebration in December this year in lieu of CNY to mark the 10th birthday of Dao Lu in 2023, a very special year for Dao Lu, at Trade Hall, appoint lead person to organise.
CF – Trade Hall is all booked up. There are other venues to check out as soon as possible: St Mary’s Welcome Centre (likely to be free on 18 December evening), St Barnabas Foster Hall, Community Rm behind Le Delice, Walthamstow Cricket Club. Need for Board to determine date and time, whether food will be served and by whom, how many people are expected?
AH – Expect 30 – 50. Potluck.
Action point: CF will email AH and EM/JM on the points to consider and decide on before approaching venues. AH asked EM/JM to lead organising the Xmas party. AH will also ask Lenka to help organise if she’s available. Open to performances and demonstrations by members and guests of DL.
Meeting ends 18.05.