This month's newsletter is edited by La Toyah McAllister-Jones, our Programme Associate for Citizen Engagement.
Welcome to our May newsletter!
Last week, Collaborate launched a new report, Supporting Social Change: A New Funding Ecology in partnership with the Big Lottery Fund and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK Branch.
We argue that grantmakers should work better together for the greater good. As the role of the state evolves, so too must that of independent funders. Demand and need show little sign of fading, therefore it is vital that funders must move away from the old-fashioned ‘see a need, fund a service’ mind-set and adopt a more holistic understanding of the broader drivers of social change.
The report’s launch brought important members of the funding community together to debate these issues. The general consensus was if funders were to collaborate and indeed take a few risks, especially with long-term projects, then this would be an opportunity to make a lasting difference.
To find out more about this work, please contact Adelaide, our Partnerships and Project Manager.
What will the general election mean for citizens and services?
As polling day approaches, the parties are falling over themselves to speak to the electorate, to get their message across; to engage the citizen. How successful their efforts will be remains to be seen. It’s well documented that voter turnout has fallen significantly since the 1997 General Election, where turnout was 71.29%, to 2010, when barely over half the electorate (65.11%). This reflects an electorate that feels indifferent to politics and the change it can deliver in their everyday lives. If people feel that they cannot actually affect real change, then why participate?
Collaborate’s 2014 report, The Collaborative Citizen shone a provocative and challenging light on how the public feel about the services they receive. Collaborate surveyed 989 GB adults 15+ and found that 33% feel that the term ‘public service’ should mean ‘a service that is important to the whole community’ and 33% also felt it should be ‘available for everybody to use’.
Having spent many years working with complex and vulnerable people in the homelessness sector, I know how difficult this can be to achieve. The challenge is moving away from simply providing services to people to working with them instead.
As citizen engagement lead, I am keen to connect our work in this area with the ‘Unusual Suspects’ concept, which at its core, is about unlocking the potential for engaging with different people at different levels to gain fresh perspectives.
Lessons from Coventry
I have been spending time in Coventry developing a piece of applied research, funded by Lankelly Chase, exploring place-based collaboration, systems and the impact for people with complex needs. A key aspect of this work is how we understand the relationships between different parts of the system (around the needs of an individual). There is also a need to understand how people engage with that system, so as I meet with service users, I am curious to learn what ‘citizen engagement’ means for them and what opportunities there are for co-production.
And so, with this in mind, in my role as Collaborate’s lead for citizen engagement, I will be developing our approach to citizen engagement as an integral part of how we work as an organisation and with clients to ensures that the citizen remains at the heart of future services to the public.
What does ‘citizen engagement’ mean to you and your organisation? Send your thoughts to me @MsLaToyah using #EngageCitizen.
La Toyah and the Collaborate team
Collaborative. Positive. Iterative. Honest. Creative.