The Civic Crowd

April 17, 2012

Just a quick post about a fantastic new website launched in the last week the Civic Crowd Map.

According to the site (see here- about us):

“The Civic Crowd aims to map amazing initiatives and ideas for citizen-powered change, providing an open public domain resource where people can:

  • SHARE the Projects they are working on and get feedback and Support from the community.
  • DISCUSS Ideas for improvements to their area and help realise them through local collaboration.
  • OFFER their skills and Support for the benefit of the community.
  • APPRECIATE great Projects or Ideas to express their gratitude and backing.
  • PROPOSE Actions they are willing to take to help others realise their Projects.
  • VOLUNTEER to Support each other to turn Proposals into reality.

The Civic Crowd is inspired by the Compendium for the Civic Economy, Hand Made, the Community Lover’s Guide to the Universe series, and the Britain’s 50 Top New Radicals project by The Observer and NESTA; but the map belongs to everyone…

This infrastructure was designed by 00:/Social Spaces, and Cassie Robinson. Special thanks to NESTA and the Hub Islington. The Civic Crowd is sponsored by Design Council.”

What a fantastic idea- it would be really great to see the excellent projects that are going on all over Lambeth on this map.

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January round-up

January 27, 2012

As the first month in 2012 draws to a close, there are a few things from the last month that might be of interest.

Firstly David Cameron made a speech on 19 January announcing that the Government will introduce a Cooperatives Bill to Parliament before the next election. Currently more than a dozen statutes govern cooperatives and mutuals, with many being outdated. The Government’s plan is to consolidate these into one statute to make it easier for people to set up and run a cooperative. Currently there are no further details on the content of the new Bill, other than the press release from 10 Downing Street, but as soon as there are they will be published on the toolkit.

The London Community Foundation (formerly Capital Community Foundation) have updated the list of grants they administer that are available to organisations in Lambeth. These include:

  • Lambeth Festivals and Outdoor Events Fund;
  • Lambeth Community Fund; and
  • Santander Social Enterprise Development Awards.

For more information on these funds and others, visit London Community Foundation’s website – you might want to consider signing up to the e-bulletin to receive news about the latest funding opportunities.

Moves continue at a national and European level to ensure public procurement rules can support local jobs and businesses. Chris White MP’s Private Member’s Bill has gone through its third reading in the House of Commons will receive its second reading in the House of Lords before the end of the month. The Public Services (Social Value) Bill aims to strengthen the social enterprise business sector and make the concept of ‘social value’ more relevant and important in the placement and provision of public services. If passed it will require local authorities, when entering into public procurement contracts, to give greater consideration to economic, social or environmental wellbeing during the pre-procurement stage.  More information can be found in an interview he gave to Third Sector News.

Just before the end of December, the European Commission published revised public procurement directives, following a consultation through 2011. The proposed changes include:

  • Greater flexibility to negotiate
  • Simpler rules on dynamic purchasing systems
  • The ability for procurers to evaluate suppliers’ past performance
  • Enablement of electronic marketplaces
  • More flexible and less burdensome rules on supplier selection
  • Faster procurement through shortened time limits

Further information on these proposed changes can be found on the Cabinet Office website.

The council has continued to look at procurement processes and a recent seminar for council officers explained how to include community benefits in new contracts and tender processes. The slides from the seminar are available here, and will be useful to both commissioners within the council and people from organisations interested in bidding for work with the council.

In December the Public Administration Committee of the House of Commons published a report into the Government’s Big Society initiative. The Committee’s findings included a warning that the Government’s plans lack clarity and need an implementation plan, and that the Government should consider creating a ‘Big Society Minister’. The report also calls for greater clarity on the roles of charitable, private and public providers of public services and urges ministers to outline how issues of accountability in terms of quality and regulatory powers will be managed in the Big Society project, and in particular accountability for public expenditure.  The full report is available on the House of Commons website. Of particular interest to the cooperative agenda are the sections on Social Impact Bonds and Public Service Mutuals.


Guide to measuring social impact

December 6, 2011

The SIM Handbook: West Sussex County Council’s guide to social impact measurement.

Organisations interested in social value, like social enterprises, often need to show they are making an impact with what they do. West Sussex County Council have produced a handbook on measuring the social impact of these kinds of organisations. It suggests creating a Storyboard from eight relevant questions (below) to formally plan and measure an organisation’s impact. This better understanding is useful for when they need to improve or communicate that impact. It is suitable for complete beginners as well as those who are regularly thinking about the impact they make.

It has a lot of information in 40 pages, including some sensible advice – such as “Often social impact measurement will seek to ‘measure everything and tell absolutely everyone about it’. This will drain your resources as an organization as well as yourself personally and will be quite ineffective!” – and some useful tips. It is low on jargon, but it does help if you are practiced in reading rather sprawling sentences – for example, “The Storyboard exercise provides an opportunity at the start of a project (and its evaluation) of bringing people together who stand to benefit (or who are already benefiting) from the work of an organisation, in order to plan the detailed actions and activities that need to be undertaken, identify where to look for evidence of impact, and generate interest and buy-in from potential partners. “  The sections on use of data, and commissioning and procurement are however rather basic – they may only be of use as introductions to these detailed subjects.

This accessible and thought-through approach to thinking about the impact of organisations could easily be used by Lambeth organisations intending to co-produce services.

Questions for the Storyboard method

1. What is the context in which your organisation operates, in terms of citizen’s needs?2. What are the main activities that are undertaken (or planned) as part of the organisation’s day-to-day running?

3. What initial results or changes have you seen (or would expect to see) as a result of these activities and actions?

4. What medium-term changes do you expect to see as a result of the work of the organisation?

5. What are the long term changes you create for:

  • Citizens. E.g. Independence, well-being?
  • What are the impacts on society or the economy more broadly?

6. How do the initial results (from Question 3 above) lead to the medium-term changes that you identified in response to Question 4?

7. How do the medium-term changes (from Question 4 above) lead to the longer-term changes that you identified in response to Question 5?

8. What challenges or barriers have you encountered (or foresee) in terms of: operational challenges; policy/ regulation barriers; other issues? 

West Sussex Social Impact Handbook