Empowering Our Communities: a firm step forward on a rocky road
More than one hundred and fifty people from across Scotland attended an ‘Empowering Our Communities’ event organised by the Scottish Government’s Ingage team in Edinburgh yesterday.
The relationship between service providers and citizens is changing, and with resources scarcer and fresh thinking required the Ingage team was formed to encourage a ‘collaborative, participative and co-productive approach’ to reforming public services and the way the statutory sector works with the communities they serve.
Billed as ‘a pop-up day of advice, inspiration and connections’, delegates representing both the statutory and voluntary sectors from all over the country – from Orkney and the Western Isles down to the Scottish Borders, from the smallest community group to major national organisations – came together to discuss and debate all that’s new (and yes, some challenges as old as the hills!) in community engagement.
There were ‘Learn & Share’ workshop sessions on Participatory Budgeting, Co-Production, National Standards for Community Engagement, Green Spaces, Community Ownership of Assets, Community-led Support, Community Learning & Exchange and Getting Everyone’s Voices Heard, covering the whole spectrum of topical subjects, each offering an opportunity to learn from the experience of others.
Co-production, where local people work alongside statutory sector partners to solve problems, was a topic that featured prominently over the course of the day and one of the event highlights was the premiere of ‘Rocky Road’, a short film on that very subject, produced by The Media Co-op. The film kicked off the afternoon session on a distinctly upbeat note.
East Ayrshire Council has an enlightened attitude to community planning – it’s Vibrant Communities team has been working alongside communities on local plans for four years. The film highlights a successful example of co-production working in which council officers worked closely alongside local people to save their community centre.
It shows just what can be achieved through trust and genuine partnership working – you can see the film at:
More workshops followed a ‘fishbowl session’ to end what proved to be an informative and thought-provoking day.
It’s clear that the status quo is no longer an option in the way services are delivered. The public sector must learn to do things differently – do things with communities, not to them. And,as equal partners, communities must face up to new responsibilities and new realities too.
The road ahead may indeed be rocky and there will be many challenges to overcome, but events like this one break down barriers and try to find solutions to make the road ahead just a little smoother.
For further information visit www.workforcescotland.com or email Ingage@gov.scot