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 public services taking the long view

1st March was world Futures Day. Here I reflect on how, at its best, public services take a long-term perspective. 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 […]

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 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 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 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 […]

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 basic income as a means to an end

How can we change the welfare system to help people solve their individual challenges? We’ve been exploring how a basic income could change the way welfare works. We wanted to see how a basic income could be designed in way that helps create a community that supports people.  This needed us to hear people’s voices […]

On new power

“Adults keep saying we owe it to the young people to give them hope. But I don’t want your hope, I don’t want you to be hopeful. I want you to panic, I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. And then I want you to act, I want you to act as if you […]

On tipping points and paradigms

“Some people, some companies, some decision-makers in particular have known exactly what priceless values they have been sacrificing to continue making unimaginable amounts of money. And I think many of you here today belong to that group of people”.⁠1  Greta Thunburg Such were the words spoken before the World Economic Forum in January by a […]