I’ve been working with Donna Roberts from Dudley MBC and Keeley Wright, a volunteer with Dudley CVS to review lots of different reports and notes from local activities to draw out ideas about how we could improve the ways that people and communities can have influence in response to changes in the public sector (such as the NHS and the council).
We would like to bring this together into a practical guide for colleagues, and have invited members of the online Our Society network to help us to do this. It’s free and simple to join the Our Society network, so if you’d like to get involved, here is the group for the development of the Guide (you will need to join the network and then the group in order to add comments).
Our Society: A Guide for Dudley is likely to include the following chapters:
- Introduction – policy context and drivers, local activity etc. and articulation of a vision and an approach
- Changing roles – describing new and emerging roles, skills required to undertake them, support which might be needed and practical steps to move forward
- Rethinking structures as networks and systems – evidence of this shift, local examples, online examples … and practical steps to shifting thinking
- Identifying existing and new social assets – approaches to recognising and mapping assets (by which we mean people and skills as well as bricks and mortar), examples, practical support and advice
- Methods – toolkits, frameworks, knowledge hub, and more
- Practical steps which Dudley can take towards an empowering response to public service reform, localism, ‘big society’ etc.
Please feel free to post comments and ideas here as well as to the Our Society network.
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.