On levelling up

This blog is an initial response to the recent publication ‘Levelling up our communities: a new social covenant’ by Danny Kruger MP. Let me start by saying that, on the surface, anything that raises the debate around the importance of community is a good thing. On this measure, the recent report by Danny Kruger MP […]

On coalitions and partnerships

How do we identify and account for the value in bringing a range of diverse people, perspectives and organisations together, initiated by a challenge or local imperative for action and change? If there is a sense of collective value, what are the possibilities we can achieve by working together during and after any period of […]

On (dis)investing in prevention

The recent review into Sure Start children’s centres offers a window into a complex system: early years services. They were designed to bring a range of such service sunder one roof and improve access, often in the more disadvantages communities in the UK. Indeed, in my local government role I sat on a board for a […]

On moving fast and fixing things

Commissioning and innovation are two terms that belong together, yet all too often they remain separated, unless it is to describe the inability of the former to achieve the latter. In this piece I’ll explore why they are normally used as either/or terms and share some learning from places that are actively trying to put […]

On partnerships for transformation

At first glance, this might be seen as an odd time to be looking at innovation in public sector partnerships as councils and the wider sector has experienced almost a decade of significant, sustained funding cuts. Yet although necessity can be the mother of invention, it does not always follow that a necessity driven by […]

On why innovations don’t scale

One of the reasons that insights in public services don’t readily scale is that we face such radically different contexts in our communities. How can we afford to invest time and effort in practices that might help drive innovation within our organisations and partnerships when we are also custodians of public money? Line up your […]

On best practice engagement and participation

I thought it might be of value to share the key points arising from a recent literature review into what makes effective citizen participation, engagement and co-production. In this short piece I summarise core principles behind good engagement; the barriers to and enablers of good participation; as well as factors that make a difference to […]

On engagement methods

There is no single new model of the community-institution relationship. Instead, there are a variety of forms of public engagement that can be used depending on the unique combination of context, challenges, issues and assets in question. This broad ‘family’ of service design, partnership and public engagement approaches, can be understood as a spectrum – […]

On embedding an engagement culture

A core challenge for any organisation seeking closer engagement with communities is how to move beyond short- to medium-term initiatives that are largely focused on existing needs in the area and into a deeper, more systemic approach to engagement. Based on learning and practice I’ve identified a number of factors that are worth considering in […]

On investing in communities

The role of community engagement and consultation on the part of public services and charities has a long and chequered past. Communities in receipt of area-based Government funding, designed to address the causes of deprivation and disadvantage, were required to be involved to varying degrees in the allocation of that funding. Local government has long […]