On 9 March 2016 The Imagine Project held a policy seminar with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO), supported by the Economic and Social Research Council.
The event was very well attended, Imagine Project researchers and community partners were joined by representatives from the Cabinet Office, DCLG, NCVO, The Association for Research in the Voluntary and Community Sector (ARVAC) and London Voluntary Service Council (LVSC).
Commenting on the event, Kate Pahl – Principal Investigator of the Imagine Project and Professor of Literacies in Education at The University of Sheffield said, “Today has been an incredibly valuable opportunity for us to bring our community partners together with policymakers to help them to understand the difference our co-produced community research is making and enable conversations about what each of us can learn from this”.
The aim of the event was to share the emerging findings from the Imagine Project and to stimulate thinking, particularly around policy implications and impact. What important insights from particular places and communities could help shape policy approaches to community policy at a national and local level?
“Today’s workshop has stimulated some really helpful conversations back in the office and will also help us develop future conversations with people doing collaborative research with communities.” Robert Rutherfoord, DCLG.
A report from the event is now available to download (pdf).
Kate Pahl opened the event introducing the Imagine Project and its approach to co-production.
The Imagine Project researchers and community partners then gave rapid fire presentations on the findings of their research:
- Co-producing resilient communities in diverse settings: Insights from the Imagine–Social project – Josh Cameron (University of Brighton/BoingBoing); Sarah Henderson (Newport Mind, Wales); Louise Patmore (Sussex Recovery College); Suna Eryigit-Madzwamuse, Angie Hart, Anne Rathbone, (University of Brighton/BoingBoing).
- Imagining Benwell and N. Shields: from the national Community Development Projects (1970s) to ‘Our Place’ and beyond – Sarah Banks & Andrea Armstrong (Durham University); Anne Bonner (Riverside Community Health Project, Benwell, Newcastle); Luke Johnston (Phoenix Detached Youth Project, North Shields); Patrick Harman (Hayden Harman Foundation, North Carolina, USA).
- Identities, histories and cultures in contested communities: the value of arts, humanities and culture to community-led regeneration – Paul Ward (University of Huddersfield), Milton Brown (KLTV); Maggie Laidlaw (University of Edinburgh); Kate Pahl (University of Sheffield); Kim Streets (Museums Sheffield); Zanib Rasool MBE (Partnership and Development Manager for Rotherham United Community Sports Trust with expertise in community cohesion); Mariam Shah (Historian and Community Partner, Rotherham).
The presentations were followed by questions and discussion before breaking for lunch and networking.
In the afternoon a series of world cafe style round table discussions took place:
Communities in control or left in the lurch? Facilitator: Sarah Banks
- As central and local government reduce/withdraw funding for both individuals (welfare benefits) and groups (e.g. community centres, youth provision, libraries) what are people’s experiences at local level?
- What strategies are communities using to manage assets/liabilities and how are they working collaboratively to make this happen?
- What financial, technical and community development support is needed to enable local groups to take control and what is and should be the role of local and central government in this?
- What new forms of community governance and representation could be explored and implemented at a local level?
Beyond sink or swim: What are the challenges and potentials of co-production to build resilience from childhood to adulthood and to empower marginalised groups? Facilitators: Angie Hart and Suna Eryigit-Madzwamuse
- How can lived-experience, practitioner and academic knowledge be effectively combined to develop resilience building projects and empower communities?
- What are the challenges and successes involved in engaging different stakeholders (‘inside’ and ‘outside’ communities)?
- In the context of reduced funding for many statutory and voluntary services is resilience-building about leaving individuals and communities to ‘do it by themselves’?
- In what ways could co-productive approaches extend beyond specific projects to deepen democracy and enrich civic engagement of marginalised groups?
How can we use culture and history critically and creatively to inform future imaginings and development of communities? Facilitator: Paul Ward
- What ensuring and practical lessons can we learn from past attempts to develop communities and neighbourhoods?
- How can a process of reclaiming the past strengthen and empower ‘marginalised’ communities?
- How can government, local authorities and universities learn to listen?
- What value does the arts and culture have in informing communities that might be working on regeneration?
- How can the arts and culture support and sustain enthusiasm for change, particularly in contested communities?
The round table discussions were followed by an opportunity for participants to feedback and take part in a further group discussion reflecting on the day’s activities.
Photos from the day, courtesy of Steve Pool: