Monthly Archives: August, 2011

May 2011 Dudley’s decision-makers on Our Society

Crossposted from Our Society in Dudley Borough discussion, posted on 19 May 2011 to http://www.oursociety.org.uk/group/dudley/forum

Dudley Community Partnership Board met today and spent most of the meeting thinking about Our Society related matters. Sal Hampson from changes facilitated a discussion which bought partners together around the issues they face. Rather than writing an update from my perspective, I put my new social reporting skills in to action and interviewed Andy Gray, the new Chair of the partnership, and Dennis Hodson the Director.

In the clip below Andy explains what the board discussed today, that it has helped organisations to develop a shared understanding of what Our Society in Dudley could mean and what changes can take place in Dudley. Andy also shares what he feels his role as Chief Executive of Dudley CVS is in relation to this agenda, and also how he will ensure the Dudley Community Partnership continues to take things forward.

In this second clip Dennis Hodson explains how today’s meeting is a step on from the event on Big Society which the Dudley Community Partnership hosted in November 2010. It is about a changing relationship and engaging in different ways. Next steps are making it real and making it practical.

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April 2011 update

extract from Our Society in Dudley Borough discussion, posted on 18 April 2011 to http://www.oursociety.org.uk/group/dudley/forum

We are trying to strike a balance through Our Society activity between projects which can provide evidence and learning and test the changing relationship between communities and the public sector and work towards longer term culture change. A problem with projects is that they can be piecemeal and not lead to whole system changes, whereas a difficulty with seeking to address whole system change is around issues of power.

So to ensure something tangible in the short-term we are looking at concrete project-based activity, some of it already underway, some of it arising in response to the Localism agenda and changes in legislation. Activities we are interested in are the asset transfer of Lye and Wollescote Chapels, and interest expressed in taking on management of a local Youth Centre. We will develop activity around openness to community influence with colleagues in the Council’s Planning Policy Team, using the echo framework.

We are also looking at changing hearts and minds, steps in this process include discussions at the next Dudley Community Partnership Board meeting on 19 May, potentially work with elected members, and Community Rights Made Real.

And in order to highlight and celebrate the fantastic things which our communities already do, Dudley CVS is leading on the development of an online space for Our Society related discussion in Dudley and support to local groups to promote their achievements. Dudley CVS is also developing the social media skills of our local groups, clubs and societies through the launch of monthly social media surgeries. The first one was held on 14 April and was a resounding success. See the video below, my blog and a a post by Nick Booth on the Podnosh website.

March 2011 update

extract from Our Society in Dudley Borough discussion, posted on 13 March 2011 to http://www.oursociety.org.uk/group/dudley/forum

On 9 March Dudley’s Stronger Communities Steering Group met and discussed progress and plans in relation to Our Society. The following is my summary of the discussion.

Strategic buy in
Support for strategic approach to Our Society from Local Strategic Partnership Board: it was confirmed that there had been strong support from the Board and they were very pleased with the approach.

Existing work and tools

  • The Planning Policy Team would like to know more about Voice, which may help them especially in the light of anticipated changes in legislation.
  • Planning Policy, Urban Design and the Sustainability Team are interested in using echo, possibly together, and are keen to see if it can help to unblock opportunities in policy such as site development.
  • West Midlands Police are also interested in working with echo.
  • Dudley CVS confirmed that Building Blocks support can be provided to social enterprises.
  • It was confirmed that the Take Part learning programmes address issues around inclusion.

Assets
There was discussion around the different strands of work in relation to assets, and the need for a strategic approach. An asset mapping and rating activity being undertaken will help to reduce unnecessary public sector spend on assets, hopefully diverting spend to service delivery. This is different to asset transfer activity, which has a focus on empowerment. There is a also a need to look as the value of a range of buildings such as community centres, many are marginal, relocating public servants to them could help to keep them open and serving communities.

Dudley MBC response to Big Society
Dudley MBC is developing a framework for their wider Big Society strategy, to include a vision of what the council should be, a collective understanding of how Our Society compliments this, and a structured way for each core service to review services in relation to defined outcomes.

Timescales

  • Dosti/DudleyCVS to host an event for the voluntary, community and faith sector to discuss Our Society and ways that they would like to take it forward – anticipated date: early May
  • Dudley MBC to agree response to Big Society
  • Dudley Community Partnership Board to have a meeting focusing on Our Society in May
  • Task groups to take forward activity to be established in June.

A focus on tackling inequalities is to be explicit in plans.

Community Organisers
Locality are inviting expressions of interest for host organisations (see http://www.dta.org.uk/whatsnew/hottopics/communityorganisers) Dudley CVS will investigate this further and may submit an expression of interest

Jan 2011 Our Society: Big Society in action across Dudley Borough – it’s official!

crossposted from Our Society in Dudley Borough discussion, 28 January 2011 on http://www.oursociety.org.uk

Update from today’s Local Strategic Partnership meeting – the Board were pleased with the work we’ve been doing. Here are the presentation slides I used:

The Board signed up to the following in terms of a strategic approach to Big Society:

1. Our approach recognises that outcomes and activities sought in a Big Society already exist across our Borough, in our neighbourhoods, local businesses, public sector agencies, voluntary organisations, communities and faith groups. Together we will celebrate, but not take the credit for, independent community action. As a partnership we will seek actions that we can take to enable community action, developing next practice.

2. We will badge our work Our Society: Big Society in action across Dudley Borough. We are proud to be part of the Our Society online community, contributing to its development and linking online sharing with offline practice.

3. Existing commitments in our Community Strategy, Local Compact and Comprehensive Community Engagement Strategy will guide our approach, and in particular principles in our Community Strategy around (a) promoting equality and tackling inequality, (b) delivering in partnership and (c) involving people. In addition the commitment in our Community Strategy to be honest about the resources available is crucial.

There is an opportunity to adopt a whole area approach, based on a model developed through the Black Country Take Part Pathfinder. We’re working on how we define this approach, and will discuss it further. Dudley’s Community Engagement Working Group will be looking at the branding of our Comprehensive Community Engagement Strategy, as ‘in it together’ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it as it did in 2008 when we came up with it! The Leader of the Council is keen for us to review this.

LSP Board members made effort to compliment the thinking behind what we presented, and expressed that we are making great progress in our response to Big Society.

Jan 2011 Strategic responses to Big Society in Dudley

crossposted from Our Society in Dudley Borough discussion, 25 January 2011 on http://www.oursociety.org.uk/group/dudley/forum

The journey so far …

Dudley has a Local Strategic Partnership (LSP), called the Dudley Community Partnership (DCP). Within this ‘family of partnerships’ there is a multi-agency Stronger Communities Steering Group.

On 21 July 2010 the Stronger Communities Steering Group met and started to look at how Strategic Priorities from Dudley’s Community Strategy in the Strong Communities theme mapped to five policies announced in May 2010 in relation to the Big Society. At the same meeting the group also went on to identify existing activity around community engagement, volunteering, community cohesion and social enterprise development. We identified opportunities and threats in relation to what Big Society thinking was in relation to these.

The action agreed from this meeting and taken to the Dudley Communuity Partnership Board was for a sub-group to organise a Big Society event. This was undertaken and on the 18 November the Dudley Communuity Partnership hosted a Big Society event attended by 117 people: 59% public sector, 35% voluntary, community and faith sector and 5 private sector. See more here.

For me the themes emerging from the 18 discussion groups were:

  •     Power
  •     Inclusion
  •     A desire for more support and funding for grass roots community activity and volunteers
  •     A need to recognise community knowledge and skills, and resilience
  •     Service issues
  •     Community engagement
  •     Local enterprise development
  •     A demand/desire for culture change in local government

I proposed to the Stronger Communities Steering Group that Dudley’s approach to Big Society should:

  • address the above issues (raised at the event in November).
  • be guided by commitments and approaches in our Community Strategy, Local Compact and Comprehensive Community Engagement Strategy
  • be a partnership approach
  • be an empowering one – by which I mean working in ways which build confidence, are inclusive, foster organised and co-operative communities and which support community influence.
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