One of Rebecca Wixey’s first tasks as new Freedom to Speak Up Guardian at Bradford District Care Trust was to work on a new Freedom to Speak Up Strategy for the organisation. In discussion with internal stakeholders, she was put in touch with the business & service development team who had used crowd sourcing methodology for other strategies within the organisation.  

In February 2022 BDCFT commissioned Clever Together to run an on-line conversation to validate the actions identified in the Trust’s new draft Freedom to Speak Up Strategy. They wanted to know what was strong, wrong or missing from the document.  

The project team met on a weekly basis and developed the online platform, including designing a demographic questionnaire that included 8 questions to assess the level of psychological safety felt by participants. The results of this ‘temperature check’ can also be used as a benchmark for future surveys.  

The conversation was open to contributions from all workers, including volunteers and bank colleagues, for 2 weeks.  

The draft strategy was shared on the platform and BDCFT workers were invited to contribute their thoughts on the nine actions identified in order to implement the strategy.  These  included raising awareness; developing a Freedom to Speak Up ambassador network; Speak Up, Listen Up, Follow Up training; integrating Freedom to Speak Up with existing equality and inclusion work; sharing data, learning and developing action plans across the organisation; and using Freedom to Speak Up to support other culture work programmes. 

Participants were also given the opportunity to add anything else they felt was not covered or other ideas.  

There was participation from nearly every staff group, with all age groups and pay bands represented. Fourteen different ethnic groups participated and 13% were colleagues with a disability. There were 886 contributions , 751 votes cast, 106 comments made and 29 ideas generated. 

Some examples of voices from the crowd included: 

“I think Freedom to Speak Up is an issue for all staff, there is a stigma around being perceived as  a ‘snitch’ which affects all staff which needs to be overcome. Working alongside networks is a great idea, but I think that everyone in the Trust has a worry about speaking up so it’s more about integrating Freedom to Speak Up into everyday practice for everyone at every staff level.” 


“Increase diversity of Freedom to Speak Up champions to support speaking up in the organisation … Embed process for monitoring and investigating detriment, where staff who have spoken up feel they have been disadvantaged as a result [of speaking up].” 

Following the closure of the conversation, all 886 contributions were downloaded and then coded into their main themes which identified 20 codes. These were then ‘laddered up’ by  studying the codes and finding commonalities between them to create three high level themes . The three high level themes identified were Culture, Communication and Freedom to Speak Up approach.  

A second round of coding was then conducted to identify contributions supporting different actions, suggesting ideas or challenging the action. The 3 categories of Support, Ideas and Challenges were used to demonstrate what was strong (support), wrong (challenge) or missing (ideas) from the strategy. The team then scrutinised the support, ideas, challenges and recommendations based on the voice of the crowd, to identify any changes that needed making to the strategy.  

This crowdsourcing activity was used by the team to simplify and clarify some of the Freedom to Speak Up Strategy’s objectives and ensure that the actions that underpin them have strong support from colleagues.  

The finalised document was presented to Board for approval. A copy of the approved strategy was then shared with all who contributed, with thanks for their participation and engagement.    

The end result is a Freedom to Speak Up Strategy which has been co-produced by workers, ensuring their voices have been heard in setting the strategic direction for Freedom to Speak Up  at the Trust.