I am not sure how a community gets better at doing things for itself with lots of active people and groups who know each and know what each other are doing. The best communities have lots going on, places to meet, people know each other and support each other.
So what does that mean for the public sector? Well that is what they are asking themselves, and it is a real challenge.
We have a culture of spending all our time and energy talking about public services – but this is about starting a conversation, developing relationships, doing things together.
So part of the role of the public sector needs to move from ‘doing to’ to ‘doing with’, and this is more about bringing people together, having more open discussions and to some extent ‘letting go’.
People talk about empowerment, but this means giving power to people and communities. For this to happen, someone must want to give up some of their power – and for some people, that is uncomfortable, a bit scary and they are not sure how to do it. That is the problem, there is no script to follow, no clear plan and you cannot measure it.
So let me know if you want to see some of these discussion papers and reports, but maybe we are better off listening to someone describe what working in the community is all about – and for me that is not the service, the specification, the outputs, it is how welcome people feel when they someone with a smile on their face.
You can download a Carnegie report here, and watch the film here
If you want to read a cracking report on place based working, try this report from Locality