On the need for mainstream investment in our communities

Supporting our communities: time to move from false-competition to needs-based investment The winners of the new Community Renewal Fund, the precursor to the post-Brexit Shared Prosperity Fund, were recently announced. What does this tell us about the Government’s approach to investing in our communities and the desire for ‘levelling up’ across the UK, and what […]

On convening across systems

One of the stranger performance measures that local government used to have to report to Whitehall in the early 2000s was on rough sleeping. Periodically officers would be required to undertake a survey, literally walking or driving around and counting the numbers of people they found. To what end were we collecting and reporting this […]

On crises and change (a guide to the terrain)

In early 2021 I worked with a team at the RSA to listen to community stories of the impact of Covid-19. Our aim was to tease out some learning about the preparedness of people, communities, institutions and our wider systems to absorb the shocks precipitated by the global pandemic. Our thesis was not an original […]

On transitions and loss (part I)

Covid-19 is precipitating change the likes of which we haven’t seen for generations and the extent to which we can only currently guess. Out of necessity, and against the odds, we have seen communities, the wider public sector and civil society step up and work together to respond to local needs, largely in the absence […]

On fault-lines and foundations

In the first lockdown the RSA coined the phrase ‘building bridges to the future’ to describe how learning, adaptation and innovation during the crisis might shape and prefigure a better future. Over the last ten months we have tested these ideas with a wide range of partners turning categories and propositions into concrete examples and […]

On public services taking the long view

Slowly rising to obscure my view of Europe’s largest urban wetlands, the two blocks of flats opposite me have taken on an increasingly finished aspect recently. Balconies affixed, the cranes have been dismantled and, I assume, the tasks switch focus to the inside and the exterior landscaping. They are not in isolation. Multiple blocks of […]

On improving health outcomes

The RSA’s Inclusive Growth Commission, reporting in 2018, recognised the role that poor health can play in contributing to the key challenges of unequal economic growth and poor productivity. Data analysis and visual mapping conducted by the Commission highlighted the association between poor health, economic inactivity and exclusion from labour markets; illness amongst the working […]

On levelling up (part 2)

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 making sense of crisis

How do we make sense of how the crisis is changing the world as we are living through it? Lots of conversations are taking place around how we track, learn from and make sense of the crisis, our response to it, and how we build bridges to a post-pandemic future. Thinking through the measures that […]

On levelling up (part 1)

There is so much talk, pre- and post-local election, of Levelling Up. The idea that this is the solution to the challenges of those areas ‘left behind’ by the growth seen by London and the South East over the last few decades leaves me cold. This is less about areas ‘left behind’ than it is […]

On accelerating social innovation

In order to transform public services and improve population health outcomes, we need to accelerate the social innovation process in communities – co-creating solutions from the ‘bottom up’ to tackle complex societal challenges. There are wider economic and societal benefits to be realised from embracing the efforts of community organisers and social entrepreneurs. The challenge […]