Made in Lambeth II

October 18, 2012

#madeinlambeth

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 npierce@lambeth.gov.uk

 

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

http://www.flickr.com/photos/goodfornothingflickrs/sets/72157631776623535/

http://storify.com/g00dfornothing/made-in-lambeth-12-14th-october-2012

 

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

Nathan


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


Communication

January 4, 2012

Part of cooperation must surely be telling voters about what’s happening in a way which addresses their needs and concerns. For coop or big society (bigsoc) to seem more than a cynical ploy to get us to sweep our own streets and run our own libraries, government must tell it like it is and in a way we can relate to.

My qualification for writing this is my being a council-tax payer and voter here in Oval-ward, and I hope I can help cooperative projects by suggesting ways in which they can inform the public about what they are doing. I suggest that this should be done in a way which accords with present trends and concerns in the areas of public spending, local government, the third sector, volunteering and localism.

Politicians may want to keep stretches of clear water between their parties’ ideas and others’, but Labour’s coop council and the government’s big society are both responses to the same situation and involve similar concepts.

The context for both coop and bigsoc is that of economic uncertainty, public spending constraints, protest (like the occupy-movement) and disorder (like the summer’s riots). Both coop and bigsoc movements also talk in terms of greater public involvement in:

  • decision-making about
  • delivery of

public services. I therefore suggest that coop/bigsoc projects talk to the public by referring to that context and to those concepts.

Promoters of projects understandably want to highlight those undertakings’ benefits and to namecheck the projects’ sponsors. The trouble with doing only  that is that a scheme can sound like just another government/quango plan with a snazzy (if incomprehensible) title. What it implies is: “here are some more government-funded agencies spending more of your money on something which may or may not benefit you”. It doesn’t really sound that cooperative, does it?

Coop/bigsoc projects can be better described in terms of:

  • how voters have been involved in deciding to do this thing
  • what practical contribution is being made by voters
  • what proportion of funding is from taxation and what proportion comes from individuals and business
  • how the project will deliver practical benefits and help with social cohesion
  • what the reader can do to get involved in this and/or similar projects.

For a project to be truly cooperative, involvement in decision-making can’t be restricted to voting for the council once every four years. However democratic things may be, Labour governs Lambeth with the votes of less than a quarter of the electorate. I suggest regular ward-based meetings, convened by councillors and reinforced through social media.

While funding may appear to come from independent organisations, communication needs to be transparent in terms of saying how much of the money actually comes from national government grants, council-tax and other sources which are really us taxpayers. I expect a lot of voters would be surprised to know how many charities rely significantly on state-funding.


Thinking about communications and marketing?

August 30, 2011

If you’re thinking about setting up a mutual or cooperative organisation, you will need to think about your communications and marketing. You’re likely to need to attract business (either customers or contracts), plus you’ll want the local community to be aware of you are and what you do.

Here are some places you might be able to get help and advice about communications and marketing:

Finally, a tip from someone in the know – social enterprises with a good website, logo etc. get by though finding a good tech savvy volunteer.