Time for a round up, as I haven’t managed to post here lately – which is all about to change as we launch in to lots of exciting activity. Here’s what the Our Society Planning Group have been working on:
Activity to test change and develop evidence
We’re keen to explore the real experiences of people involved in activity which relates to ideas in the government’s Localism Act. This includes groups which are moving towards taking over buildings, such as the Lye & Wollescote Cemetery Chapels project, and groups and people who are filling in gaps as public services are cut. An example would be Sarah Freeman, recognised at Dudley’s Volunteer Awards this year for providing a meals on wheels service in the area where she lives.
Working with senior decision-makers
The Dudley Community Partnership (DCP) Board meeting in September was cancelled, though we were able to run discussion sessions with members of the Heritage, Culture and Leisure Partnership that month. Feedback from this and the DCP Board meeting in November will be posted to this site soon.
Visit from Cabinet Office
Neil Smith from the Office for Civil Society attended one of Dudley’s Our Society Planning Group meetings and shared information on the government’s Community Organiser programme and the Communities First programme, both of which are running in Dudley Borough (more information here).
Voluntary Sector Network event
Dudley’s Voluntary Sector network hosted an event in July which we contributed to and learned from. People at the event considered the Localism Bill, Asset Transfer and Community Rights. There are videos, photos, blog posts, tweet archives, useful links, and even a graphic recording of the event all at www.vsnjuly2011.posterous.com.
Celebrating community activity
Our approach to Our Society in Dudley Borough seeks to celebrate independent community action, so look out for inspiring stories which Dudley CVS’s Melissa Guest will be posting here over the coming months. Many local volunteers were recognised at Dudley’s annual Volunteer Awards in October.
Developing Dudley Council’s approach
Dudley Council now have a cross-department Our Society group considering the issues facing them as a local authority and how to respond to them within an Our Society approach.
Barriers to our approach
We’re starting to keep a record of barriers that we come across which prevent ideas under the Our Society banner moving forward, or moving forward in a consistent way. These include an absence or depletion of skills which we think are needed, to inconsistent arrangements in relation to, for example, leasing community buildings.
Being open and transparent, and involving YOU!
We hope that the videos and feedback we’ve posted here to date help to share what is happening in our meetings and meetings of Dudley Community Partnership’s Board. We’ve also uploaded Our Society Steering Group papers and links to event feedback and videos. We’ll be posting more regularly now as momentum gains. Later this week we’ll be sharing progress updates on our Community Rights Made Real project with Urban Forum. We invite anyone who is interested to add comments and get discussions going on this site.
We’ve set up a twitter account: @oursocdudley and we plan to circulate regular e-newsletters to stakeholders and subscribers. We may also set up a Facebook page if there is interest. We are planning a large face-to-face event in the Spring which will bring together a lot of what we have been working on and open it all out for a wider discussion and agreement on what steps we should take next in Dudley.
Part of this will involve developing a guide for Our Society, and will be doing this over the coming months in a collaborative way, through the Our Society national online network. It’s free and easy to join, we would love people from Dudley to be involved in the writing process, so please join the site and we’ll update you when the group gets going. Please do leave a comment or get in touch if you’d like to know more or get stuck with any of our online networking places.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.