Seven stories of localism – Workshop resources available

Seven Stories - Liz summing up
On 8 July, 64 people descended on Birmingham to hear and share stories of localism and co-production as the culmination of a month of activities exploring research into models of localism and co-production undertaken over the previous two years by researchers from the Universities of Manchester and Birmingham.

Read more about the day, the research that prompted it, resources shared and reflections captured here. Get a flavour of the stories shared from the visual minutes below.

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NANM network survey 2014: What did we learn?

Earlier this year we invited members of the NANM network – people who have come to NANM events, read the NANM newswire, follow @NM_Association on Twitter or just keep an eye on the NANM web site – to complete an online survey. The purpose of the survey was to find out more about who currently makes up the NANM network, after a period of some considerable change, and how you would like to engage with NANM and other network members. Promotion was relatively low key. A link from the NANM website, mention in the Newswire and a follow-up mailing, and promoted in a few Tweets.

This was the first NANM survey for over two years and as ever we are deeply grateful to all those who responded. The responses we did get were full and enthusiastic.

So what did we learn?       

  • NANM Newswire is the main way most people currently engage with NANM, although nearly half of respondents also mentioned NANM’s learning events
  • There is scope to develop the usefulness of the NANM web site, and Twitter emerges as the least engaging of NANM’s communication channels (amongst respondents and in terms of encouraging people to complete the survey)
  • People responding to the survey suggested that NANM should develop its offer in three areas:
    • Support for knowledge sharing: Providing access to information, developing case studies, making connections and offering advice
    • Opportunities for learning: Bringing people together to learn (recognising that there are currently severe constraints on funds for learning, including travel)
    • National profile: Using NANM’s national profile to support neighbourhood action.
  • Suggested topics around which to share learning ranged from understanding the causes of neighbourhood decline, through particular challenges people were facing (how to get employment support into estates, how neighbourhood planning can help local enterprise, how to get allotments going) to the best way to demonstrate the value of neighbourhood working and make the case for continued investment
  • A number of those responding to the survey offered to share their own projects and experience, by providing an article for the web site or speaking at events
  • Looking to the future slightly more people were positive about the future than were not, although about 30% said there were just too many variables.

You can read a more detailed summary of the survey findings in this short report. NANM Survey 2014 - What did we learn? (231)

We’d love to hear your responses. Do the findings ring true? Are you involved in projects that you think could help other network members (and would you be willing to write or talk about your experience)? Are there issues that weren’t picked up?

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Private renting: What’s the problem?

DSC_0022-SmallThis post was originally written to share some of the lessons learned during a study visit by residents of Big Local areas to Leigh West to explore local strategies to improve housing. We are publishing it here partly because we think it might be of wider interest, but also because it is quite long. A shorter version will be published on the Local Trust web site. The study visit was organised by NANM as part of our support for networking and learning between Big Local areas. You can find out more about Big Local by visiting the Local Trust web site.

On the 24 and 25 February 2014, 13 people from six Big Local areas travelled to Leigh West to take part in the Improving housing – Big Local study visit. It was a fascinating visit during which we were shown around the local area by residents of Leigh West Big Local (Leigh Neighbours), heard from Wigan Housing Solutions, a local social enterprise lettings agency working in the area, as well as from Lancashire Community Finance about their approach to low cost home improvement finance, and North Huyton Communities Future about how they are using national Empty Homes funding to renovate empty homes to rent to families in need. We were also taken through the process of developing a neighbourhood plan by Urban Vision, an architecture and built environment centre, and heard from an architect at the URBED cooperative about a couple of community-led housing projects in Liverpool. You can see slides from most of the presentations on the NANM SlideShare site, along with some photos and video on the Local Trust Flickr and YouTube channels.

But what was really noticeable was how all of the areas present identified problems in the private rented sector as a barrier to improving housing in their communities. It is this common experience that I want to focus on in this blog post.

Continue reading

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Take the NANM network quick survey 2013 -14!

It is now more than two years since we last carried out a survey of members of the NANM network, during which there has been a lot of change.

Through this survey we are keen to find out more about the current NANM network – people who come to NANM events, read the NANM newswire, follow @NM_Association on Twitter or just keep an eye on this web site. If any of these describe you we want to hear from you.

What we learn from responses will both help us to develop what we do as an association in the future and to better represent neighbourhood working to others. This is a short survey. It won’t take more than 10 minutes to complete. Deadline for responses is Thursday 30 January 2014.
Click here to take the survey

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Five models of localism: which are you?

What does effective representation and accountability look like ? Does it look the same at local authority, ward and neighbourhood level? Can academic theory and research help? If there are differences, do we have the language to discuss them?

The next NANM open space workshop, Five models of localism: which are you?, is on Wednesday, 4 December 2013, 10:30 to 15:30 (coffee from 10:00) at The University of Manchester, Sackville Street Campus (nr Manchester Piccadilly Station), Manchester. You can book on-line at Eventbrite.

In their recent paper Who is accountable in localism? Liz Richardson (University of Manchester) and Catherine Durose (University of Birmingham) identify five models of local accountability based on new research and a review of existing literature. They call their first model the ‘British Political Tradition’ in which power and influence is hierarchical and public agencies see citizen involvement happening mainly at local elections when the public’s role is either as voter, or candidate. Community participation efforts therefore focus only on encouraging more people to stand for election, or to turn out and vote.

At the other end of their scale they describe a model which constantly seeks the public’s involvement as decision makers and problem solvers. In this model, local public bodies see power as coming from many directions and their own role is one of mobiliser, enabler, and convenor.

It is self-evident most of those involved in neighbourhood working aspire to an enabling model. But how can we test the extent that practical experiences of communities match what we aspire to?

That is the question that we’ll explore during the workshop.

To start Liz Richardson will introduce us to the five models she and Catherine Durose have proposed, and explain how they are intended as a practical guide or diagnostic to enable others to test what models of local accountability exist in practice.

We will then convene open space discussions to enable participants to identify which model they think they are working in themselves. This will be a participative day and we hope everyone attending will contribute from their own first hand experiences.

You can find out more about the event and book your place on our page on Eventbrite.

We have funding to cover the costs of this event, which means we can make it free to attend. But we will gratefully accept contributions towards the cost of catering and logistics. Our suggested contribution is £10, which would also entitle you to become a member of the NANM for two years from the date of the event.

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