Tag Archives: power

Inspiring Democracy Project

Dudley is one of seven areas selected to be involved in research as part of national project funded by the government called Inspiring Democracy.

The project focuses on building relationships between citizens, community based organisations and elected members working together to influence local political agendas. In each of the seven areas across England a different look will be taken at aspects of councillor and community organisation/s relationships and objectives.

Sue Gorbing

A focus group for interested members of community groups and organisations in Dudley Borough will be held on the evening of 7 March 2012, venue tba. The focus group will be run by Sue Gorbing from community development specialists changes who have been contracted to deliver this project. Invitations to the focus group will be circulated to community groups over the coming days.

The Inspiring Democracy project will lead to a resource being produced to enable Elected Members and community organisations to think about and enact their roles in a more constructive way. Everyone taking part in the research will be invited to an event on 25 April (likely to be in Birmingham) and have an opportunity to feed back on the draft guidance and input to the final write-up.

The other research areas are: Wolverhampton, Solihull, Shropshire, Preston, Keighley (Bradford) and Wiltshire.

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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.

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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