This report from the Improvement Service provides an overview of the current practice of place-based approaches in Scotland across 27 local authority areas and also details the general literature on place-based approaches. The document includes a practical tool to enable partnerships to shape their thinking and approach before undertaking a new, or re-developing an existing place-based approach.
Link Up, a programme of work from Inspiring Scotland, increases opportunities for people in communities to come together, get to know different people, participate and help each other.
Link Up focuses on people as contributors. Evaluation and economic analysis found Link Up creates new social networks, improves health and wellbeing of local people and gives them the confidence, motivation and skills to effect positive change.
The focus of the work is “on core knowledge, skills, behaviours and approaches which support the development of collaborative leadership. Participants will experience tangible benefits of working collaboratively and will have an explicit role to demonstrate and support the development of collaborative working in their own organisations“.
The work is underpinned by an action research approach, which is believed to provide a deeper way of understanding the complexities of the challenges facing public services, and supporting people to move forward.
The Easter Saturday event was a brilliant example of community assets in motion. The church hall filled with local people some organising cooking and organising and many having fun chatting to friends and relatives neighbours and new faces (like me). I was there in my role as Chairperson of North United Communities staffing the stall that IRISS had provided with the aim of capturing what people liked about their area and themselves.
Tellingly the biggest challenge for most folk was saying something good about themselves. For me the experience was fantastic so many great people finding time to spend together mothers and fathers helping their kids showing patience and providing encouragement. The best way to give you a sense of the day – apart from a picture of me wearing bunny ears (which I do every Easter) – is to let you read the words that were hung on the listening tree.
The day recharged my faith in the inherit goodness of people and reminded me how little people are asking for in their communities – security, warmth, food and hope for the future – they deserve all that and a lot more.
Detroit SOUP’s mission is to promote community-based development through crowdfunding, creativity, collaboration, democracy, trust and fun. With key partnerships and community leaders, the hope is to change the way people engage with the democratic process by establishing neighborhood relational hubs across the city. In their own words, “SOUP offers a space where people can connect. The rest is up to attendees, but wonderful things can happen when people come together, and SOUP stories are evidence of that”.
As part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project entitled ‘Representing Communities: Developing the creative power of people to improve health and well-being’ – Barry ‘ The Red Bench’ explores the notion of outdoor spaces and the lack of seating in urbun areas. Taking Barry for walks around Dennistoun encouraged the local community to take a break and seat from their busy day and aimed to present the amazing characters of Dennistoun in an uplifting way.
The imagine programme is a five-year project running from 2013 to 2017 which brings together a range of different research projects working together across universities and their, mostly local, communities.
Of interest are the findings of this first study suggest that successful community-university partnerships have a set of characteristics that include the following:
Partners accept that partnership working is an ongoing learning experience
Partners manage to reframe differences into an opportunity, rather than an obstacle
Partners make an effort to become aware of existing power dynamics and take practical steps to address these
Partners pay attention to the social aspect of the partnership
Partners play to each other’s strengths and acknowledge that equity and fairness in the partnership is compatible with different levels of involvement by different partners and, if applicable, varying levels of involvement over the course of partnership
Partners choose a level of formality appropriate to their mission.
The site gathers knowledge from a range of different projects to imagine how communities might be different. Visit the site here
A representative from Falkirk CVS, with his colleague from Community Learning and Development (Falkirk Council) attended the first and second Big Idea events to represent the area and pitch for Iriss’ involvement in the Falkirk area. Falkirk’s involvement was initially unique because they came with a ready-formed focus; they wanted Iriss’ support to develop community transport. Partners at the event agreed that community transport was an enduring challenge in Scotland, and a barrier for many people accessing support. In this way, it really served as a ‘hook’ for people, as they could relate to it and apply it to their local setting. This may have been one of the reasons that Falkirk was chosen by the group to be one of the potential sites for Iriss to work in.
In establishing a working group in the area, having the ‘hook’ of community transport had some clear benefits:
It brought people into discussions with a clear focus
It was easier to identify key partners and stakeholder based on their area of interest/expertise
However, the principles of The Big Idea (place-based working, bottom-up issues) directed that the project began with an open exploration of a geographical area to understand what the people living in that place want and need. This meant that some work had to be done to move away from the ‘hook’ of community transport, so that it didn’t act as a ‘box’. The concern about community transport acting as a ‘box’ was that it predetermined what the community wanted and needed, which would make engagement more consultative rather than open. There was the perception from those gathered that much of the work to understand community issues had already taken place, with many citing recent consultation exercises which evidenced transport being a key concern.
Beginning work in Falkirk was in many ways about supporting our lead in the area and the working group to broader their view of what ‘community transport’ really meant, and to challenge their assumptions behind it and to understand if the real issue is community transport, or something else entirely. This work attempts to support the partners to get to the root of the issue. So how do we do move a group from a ‘box’ to a more open space?
We question how we know what we know – how do we know that community transport is the key concern for this community? How have we engaged with people from communities to ask? What stakeholders were involved in this engagement?
We explore the ‘why’ behind community transport – where do people want to go? How do people live their lives?
We moved back to place-based approach and identified a geographical area, which helped re-shape the focus of the group to a single location, and understand the experience of living there.
While this process helped to move us back to the principles of The Big Idea it is important to note that by moving away from this box (and its hook), some things became more challenging as:
Some original group members weren’t sure about their ongoing involvement (In part because they had to justify their time)
It may feel like we are entering more uncharted water, which is a more uncomfortable space for some.
This is an ongoing process and is in many ways a process of learning about un-learning traditional approaches to community engagement. Shifting from the ‘box’ of pre-determined projects was something that Iriss had to grapple with internally as well, and may represent a broader shift across social services in Scotland.
A personal view from Geoff Mulgan on what collaboration and collective impact are, what has been learned and how practice can improve. It provides an overview of some of the potentials and pitfalls of collaboration and outlines a few routes forward. Read the report here