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.
On September 18th 2012 Lambeth Council Launched its open data demonstrator tool in partnership with Boiler House Media, funded from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) at its ‘Digestibale Data’ event.
Further information on the tool can be found on the Boilerhouse Blog
A write-up of the event can be seen at The Daily Information.
The tool can can be accessed at www.lambeth-in-numbers.co.uk
This group of projects has been funded by the council where it has been required. The aim was to prototype different approaches and review whether each project had the potential to be sustained as a community led venture. For the council to financially sustain community led projects in the long term is neither appropriate or viable. Aside from the financial support, there has also been the time invested from volunteers who have brought with them their expertise and personal commitment. The support required from the council and other organisations for example High Trees Community Trust and Lambeth Living has ranged from a sympathetic ear to practical support. Some projects have required more support than others to explain processes, navigate communication channels and clear blockages. Where another organisation has been the lead such as High Trees Community Trust, they have taken on this responsibility. Further consideration is required to review the available mechanisms and resources to support community led projects at start up through to developing into a sustainable enterprise.
The principle objective of this series of projects was to learn about co-delivery of projects between council and community groups. As a result, there was no requirement for the project to demonstrate achievement of outcomes or to evidence sustainability in themselves.
To reduce bureaucratic burden, it was decided that project leads did not need to identify outputs and project deliverables at the outset, in favour of a more evolved organic approach to project delivery. The only requirement tied to the funding provided was that progress and learning was recorded on the coop toolkit blog. Unfortunately, few project leads have been able to identify their learning about working with the council on the blog.
There is evidence of activity and success from these projects. For example, Metropolitan Housing has agreed to fund youth activity at the St Martin’s community centre for a year, the poly tunnel has been sited on the Cherry Close on the Tulse Hill estate and is producing crop for local salad providers, and the BBQ bike has engaged approximately 120 people and identified a number of skills shortage which will inform the development of future projects to address these skills-gaps. However, it may prove difficult to evaluate the outcomes or social value gained from these projects given that the absence of any criteria against which these successes and achievements can be measured. This demonstrates that, while working with the community requires us to adapt our processes, this should not be to detriment of core values such as robustness, accountability and the need to evidence outcomes of projects.
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!
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 http://ilovelambeth.com. 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 http://live.lovelambeth.gotpantheon.com/site-page/loveyourspace.
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: http://live.lovelambeth.gotpantheon.com/site-page/loveyourspace. 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