Connected Communities: Approaches for Networked Neighbourhoods

January 18, 2013

On the 9th January Steve Broome, Directer of Research Actions and Research Centre, RSA gave a seminar on Connected Communities in Lambeth, slides form the event can be found below.

Connected Communities for Lambeth Council 9 January 2013

Real ‘action learning’ on coproduction – now monthly

November 9, 2012

The Coproduction Action Learning Set is now the meeting place of coproduction practitioners in the Council. It takes place once a month and provides a space where officers and colleagues from outside the council can get together to share ideas and brainstorm/barrier-bust projects.

Coproduction is still new in Lambeth. Many of us have coproduced projects, with varying degrees of success. It is only by sharing what has and what has not worked that we will improve our practice, and extend it all to all areas of the borough.

At the October Coproduction Action Learning Set we broke into five groups to deal with specific projects where we could collectively come up with a coproduction approach.

The five projects we dealt with were:

  • Adult social care day centres
  • Using e-learning to develop coproduction skills
  • Office Accommodation Strategy
  • Start your own food business workshops in West Norwood
  • Neighbourhood Enhancement Programme

Most of the projects stuck to a recommended format:

  • Brainstorm WHO is affected by the project
  • Brainstorm available RESOURCES
  • Start to put together an ACTION PLAN – using PEOPLE and RESOURCES indentified
  • Identify BARRIERS

The Actions we came up with were:

  • Start communicating – use corporate comms. but also informal comms. and networks – lots of discussion about starting a conversation and sharing ideas/articles and knowledge by whatever means possible eg from social networking and on-line interactive tools to just talking over a cup of tea, or when bump into someone in the kitchen. The latter are likely to encourage ‘honest’ conversation.
  •  Use Go-to people – there are people who have networks, contact and can make things happen. Identify them and work with them.
  • Use networks intelligently. Lots of discussion about creating a network of street champions so that everyone in the borough is ‘connected’ and easily contactable
  • Idea of ‘buckets of info’. So that people are not bombarded with information, have the information available in certain places so that they can go out and get what they need whenever they need it, and can subscribe to the things they are interested.
  • Hold events but make sure the environment is welcoming so that it encourages conversation – eg use community café style, make tea, share thoughts/ideas (don’t just give information).
  • Talk about coproduction
  • Reframe existing guidance and advice. Often information is available eg business advice on website, but it needs to be combined with other more specific advice eg food safety and then it would be more rounded and complete. It would also require less council resources ultimately. We could also train more staff and contractors to give advice and mentor individuals. E.g. in the case of business advice this might help staff to become more entrepreneurial, which is in the spirit of the coop council anyway.
  • Market analysis – understand where the gaps are and what is available already.
  • Encourage time banking
  • Encourage buddying (already used by social services but could be extended significantly)
  • Maximise use of council buildings. Schools etc. are only used for certain hours of the day.
  • Share information

The Barriers we came up with were:

  • People are fearful of change, particularly families/carers etc. who are dependent on social care services
  • We may need to have safety nets in place – for example if we reduce the number of buildings we might become over-dependent on expensive-to-hire space, or lose access to good quality space.
  • There is already generally a lack of affordable space eg for start-up businesses and community groups
  • It can be hard to reach agreement/consensus – especially for big change.
  • Politics – we spoke last time about a tendency to strive for the mediocre so as not to upset too many people
  • Lack of internal resources – staff are often overstretched
  • Go-to people are often overstretched and hold on to knowledge
  • We need more support for capacity building of community groups – we know that street champions/neighbourhood groups offer a huge opportunity for cooperative working but there is some confusion and overlap.
  • Need to make sure we don’t exclude people by depending too much on existing networks and not ensuring that everyone is networked.

We asked project owners to report back in the future about whether they have been able to action any of the actions or bust any of the barriers, as a result of the workshop.


Next workshop Thursday 29th November, 10-12.30am RSVP

As usual the workshop will not have an agenda. This time we will use a completely Open Space format. You take responsibility for getting out of the event, what you need to get out of it (more explanation of how this works at the beginning of the session).

We did agree there will be a barrier-busting session focusing on ‘access to affordable space’. Please let me know if you would like to tackle a particular ‘barrier’  or issue in the next session, or just come along with your idea.

I will look for several projects to put themselves forward for a ‘treatment’ by the group. I have already identified one project. Please let me know if you have a project, or just come along with your idea


We encourage people to BRING A FRIEND as a way of expanding the group and the sharing the knowledge.



Made in Lambeth II

October 18, 2012


As many of you will know, a second Made in Lambeth event took place last weekend here in Brixton at the Town Hall. I think I can safely say it was a real success! Firstly thank you ever so much to all of you who came along, braving London transport when so much of the tube was down. It was really appreciated and the impressive turn out at the weekend shows us how enthusiastic people are to make a real difference to where we live.

The making and creating on all three projects was substantial and we have some brilliant work to take forward together over the coming weeks and months. Some of the outputs was as follows:

  • Neighbourhood networks – This project started life as a concept called ‘Street Friends’ and soon turned into ‘Our Street’. The idea is to create networks of neighbors working together on their streets to improve the immediate area where they live. The idea grew out of the Community Freshview project, where feedback told us one of the most positive changes this project has is getting neighbors to talk to each other, often for the first time. This leads to increased interaction and positive change.  Communtiy Freshview is resource intensive however, and ‘Our Street’ is about providing even more people with the tools and support they need to get on with projects they want to do themselves, knowing they have the full backing of the council to do so. Some of the tools created over the weekend included a website design which includes content about what can be done legally and how to do it, notice boards to gather ideas on your street and a sticker to put in your window which says that ‘im a friendly neighbor  please ask me to help out.’
  • Connectors – The next project was around identifying the people in the community with skills and connections who we should target with opportunities to volunteer and to get them involved in community projects. This was a wide ranging brief that took in skills mapping, volunteering and inclusion. A number of strands came out of this. One group looked at promotional materials to illustrate that volunteering is something that is extremely positive in many ways and created the ‘Superstar Volunteer’ idea. This included a video that set out what people personally get out of being a volunteer. Another group worked on developing a website that aggregates volunteering opportunities in the borough. And another group developed the idea of ‘The Nest’, a space provided by the council in council buildings for entrepreneurs and social enterprises to work together and with the council, bringing in people with skills from the community.
  • YLC – The Young Lambeth Cooperative had an incredible time of it and from the off it was clear they would achieve what they set out to achieve  What was really powerful was the involvement of young people themselves who left the weekend having gained a lot of experience in working with professionals on a project that would have a tangible impact on their lives. The group managed to create a strong brand for the YLC, sticking with the name ‘Young Lambeth Coop’ but using the abbreviation YLC. They came up with a logo and font and tested this out with the young people who were present. They developed a communications plan based around social media and mediums that young people wanted to use, as well as creating a website. They also explored ideas around incentives, and what would encourage young people and their parents to get involved in the YLC.

So now that we have these projects up and running, alongside the three projects still going from the first event, we want to keep momentum going and plan for another two day Made in Lambeth event sometime in the near future. Firstly we will host a catch up event for you to all come along and continue to work on your projects and to discuss any ideas you might have. At the event last weekend we suggested the 24th for a catch up, but unfortunately that is no longer possible, so instead we would like to invite you to the Town Hall in Brixton on Tuesday 30th October between 6-9pm to meet up with your old team mates and possibly go for a drink afterwards! Let me know if you are able to come along at


Finally we have some pictures and the twitter feed from the event:


We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible on the 30th October!


Made in Lambeth catch up – 12th July

July 13, 2012

Yesterday afternoon the Made in Lambeth team had a great catch up at the Town Hall in Brixton. It was a chance to get an update on the three projects that were developed at the last event, as well as looking forward to the next event and what projects we could work on in October. Council staff were pleasantly surprised by the amount of people who showed up! It shows that people are keen to stay involved and to contribute to designing and creating local services. A brief round up of the main points follows.

The website project is going well, we are working out ways to build up the content in the new website using the work done on the open source website developed at Made in Lambeth. The Love Your Space project is being pushed forward by Public Realm services, who are keen to maintain this as a community led project which allows people to identify unloved spaces and then enable them to do something about them themselves. The design for coproducing Healthwatch will go to cabinet in September, and the plans for this are based on the output from the Good for Nothing event. If approved, they will want to revisit the Good for Nothing Healthwatch team to get involved in the coproduction process.

Following the updates there was some really strong and useful feedback on the first event which we can take forward to the next one. This includes:

  • The council needs to be clearer about letting go and transferring power. Being clear that it wants the public to lead on projects, giving permission to take a project and run with it.
  • Develop a project pack for each of the new projects selected that includes background information, data, contacts etc.
  • Identify networks outside of twitter/facebook in order to encourage people with skills to come along. Think about offline networks locally to attract a more diverse range of skilled people.
  • Think about some methods of incentivising people to come along – a crèche?
  • Ownership of projects continues to be important, need someone there who is clear they have the resource to take the work forward beyond the event. Also they could share this ownership with a service user / recipient?
  • The group didn’t feel that much more structure to the events was needed, but did feel that the goals of the event should be more strongly defined at the outset. Especially around doing not talking, voting with your feet and divide and conquer.
  • There was enthusiasm for having regular evening meet ups, but people wanted the format to be different and to learn from our own mantra – less talking more doing! A date for the next one is the 1st August and will take place later on in the evening so that Good for Nothingers can get there after work. Need to think about how we create a space for doing, and can use this space to select future projects.

Following this conversation we started to talk about projects for the next event. Some specific projects were discussed, and from this some clear themes started to emerge:

  • Asset mapping – this came up again and again. There is a need for communities to start to identify the skills in their borough and learn how to engage and enthuse with people who have the skills needed for particular projects. There is a need to learn how to recognise skills – for example someone may be great at project planning, but they wouldn’t necessarily call their skills ‘project planning’. A pool of resources needs to be created which could be utilised by a range of projects.
  • Adding value to existing networks –there is a diverse range of communities and different groups and networks in Lambeth, an excellent resource that would largely welcome being utilised. Yet bringing them together to work presents its own challenges, how can we do so in a way that adds value, not undermines organic structures. A problem which Made in Lambeth could happily tackle!
  • Incentivisation – Why should people get involved in the cooperative council, what’s in it for them? In order to engage people you need some form of reciprocity, Made in Lambeth could explore this and come up with ways of engaging the unengagable!

We can explore these themes in more detail at our next get together. As mentioned above the next meeting will be on the 1st august at 6pm, and we hope to create a more relaxed set up with no set agenda. If you want to come along do so between 6-8pm, with the aim of making things as much as possible. If you have any ideas for this, please let me know.

Another date for the diary is the 13/14 October 2012 – the second Made in Lambeth event.

See you then!

Nathan Pierce

Made in Lambeth – A good for Nothing event!

June 26, 2012




This post is an update on the Good for Nothing event that took place on Friday and Saturday (22/23 June) last week. It was a great success, and everyone who took part was really energised and some great work was done in a short amount of time. For more on the Good for Nothing format, take a look at their website here.

The event started on the evening of the 21st where the project briefs were introduced (take a look at them here) and we everyone got to meet each other for the first time. The group was really dynamic and diverse and included council officers, designers, developers and generally talented local people.

On the Friday the work began in earnest and each group began to explore their brief in more detail, and in some cases tear up the brief and start from a different point entirely! Work began on the doing aspect and plans were drawn up. On the Saturday the tempo of the music increased and everyone frantically worked to produce something tangible. The whole event finished with presentations of what had been created, and everyone was impressed with the outcome!

Lambeth Website – A new website was designed, coded and launched in the 48 hours. The basics for a Lambeth co-op website were created and the website can be seen here It was built using Open Public Drupal distribution (yes, I had no idea what that was either, but I’ve learnt a lot in those 48 hours!) and incorporates the work we have been doing around open data. This website will run alongside our current website while the content is migrated over. Try it out – search for school meals….

Lambeth Healthwatch – The slightly more tricky of the three briefs, this group worked on setting up Healthwatch, a local consumer group for users of health and social care services. After a slow first day trying to work out what Healthwatch actually is, they had an incredibly productive second day in which a process and service design for the consumer group was developed, a design for the webpage put together and prototyped, twitter groups set up and launched, profiling of Lambeth residents including visits to doctors surgeries and a process designed for coproducing a network of community connectors, drawing on existing networks.

Lambeth Parks – The final project group looked at Lambeth’s parks and how they can increase the use of our parks and open spaces. After visiting some parks on the first day, the group found that our larger parks are already well used by the community, so they focused instead on the smaller ‘unloved’ areas in and around estates. They put together a Love your Space campaign and encouraged people to identify ‘unloved spaces’ and start to develop ideas around how they can be bought back into use

The event as a whole was an experiment into a new way of the working for the council. The Good for Nothing methodology worked really well and everyone who took part got allot of out it, from a professional and social point of view. Cllr Jack Hopkins and Sophia Looney, Director of Policy, Equalities and Performance, have developed blogs regarding the weekend and they can be viewed here: And as you can see, they are definite converts to the process!

We will be continuing with the work developed over the weekend and will work to ensure that we keep the momentum on these projects. Looking forward, the next Good for Nothing event will take place on the 29/30 September. Put these dates in your diary if you want to come along, and more details will follow.

Nathan Pierce,  Lambeth council

Lambeth hosting next co-production practitioner forum

June 8, 2012

Lambeth is set to host the next London Co-production Practitioners Forum on the 19th June, 10am-12.30pm at the town hall (see booking details by clicking here).

The practitioners forum is run by the New Economics Foundation and brings together a range of individuals with expertise in doing genuine co-production to share knowledge and expertise. I attended the previous event hosted at Praxis in Bethnal Green, a  great organisation doing some really valuable work with migrants and refugees in the area. At the event we also heard about the  fantastic way that Look Ahead are mainstreaming co-production in their organisation.  It was really interesting to hear (from a service user) about the way service users are really involved in the operations and decision making process at Look Ahead. This ranged from interviewing new employees and  designing job advertisements to training staff members and developing pathways for service users to work in full time positions at the organisation.

We are really excited about hosting the next practitioners forum, the agenda is open for delegates to add items and we’ve added a couple about how Lambeth is embedding co-production across the organisation:

  • Helen Sharp commissioning manger for young peoples services will be talking about work that she is doing with nef on embedding coproduction throughout youth services using the Outcomes Based Commissioning framework
  • An interactive action-learning session on ‘The Challenges of Coproduction in the Public Sector’ . There will be facilitated discussion of interesting new coproduced projects and how they can be taken further.

It will be great to chat about the things we are up to with experts in co-production, there are plenty of organisations in Lambeth already doing co-production and we also hope to see lots of these local examples there too.

Here’s that registration link again, you can also talk to Sarah Lyall about the network via her email

South Bank Forum : What exactly is the ‘cooperative council’?

April 17, 2012

The leader of Lambeth Council, Steve Reed, will speaking about the co-op council in Waterloo on this coming thursday evening. Free refreshments.


Thursday 19 April 2012 7pm – 9pm

Coin Street neighbourhood centre, 108 Stamford Street, SE1 9NH


To find out Lambeth and Southwark crime fighting priorities


And new public toilets for the South Bank


What exactly is the ‘cooperative council’?



  • Free refreshments
  • Please note there will be no crèche service available for this meeting
  • We welcome your suggestions for future Forum topics – please get in touch on 020 7202 6900 or