Cheetham Hill Resilience workshop
On Monday the first Cheetham Hill Resilience workshop took place, a big step in Urban Forum's joint project with the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES) to develop a new model of neighbourhood community resilience building.
In this second phase of the project, Urban Forum brought together a range of key people from the local voluntary and community, business and public sectors to develop a shared action plan, based on research into neighbourhood resilience in Cheetham Hill which CLES led in the first phase of the project. The group developed an ambitious but, by-and-large practical plan, showing what can be achieved in just one morning. The plan has a clear aim of increasing resilience through action that makes the most of the people, organisations, and strengths available in one neighbourhood in north Manchester.
We agreed various steps to support networking and information sharing across sectors, including a community fair - for jobs, volunteering, training, services, and community projects, with the potential to hold this at the local shopping centre.
We developed the beginnings of a proposal around co-production - a local pilot, potentially focussed on Cheetham Hill Park, to show how local people and groups can work productively with the local council, private sector and other local agencies. This initiative has the potential to show in a practical way what co-production can look like, and we talked about the importance in this of being resident led, accountable and with councillor involvement.
We also developed some actions around commissioning - both to build capacity of Cheetham Hill's not-for-profit sector and in increasing understanding among commissioners of how to support local groups to deliver local solutions. More generally we also talked about cross sector mentoring and skills sharing to develop entrepreneurial and income generating skills to delivery community projects.
People felt that solutions to a lack of shared community space - which came up as a particular issue - could be found through greater cross sector collaboration in using existing assets in order to develop community hubs, and to make use of work already done by the public sector in mapping local assets.
We also discussed ways to showcase philanthropy, looking at ways of strengthening messages for the business sector around the benefits to the local community and to business, and new ideas around how to use new local authority control of business rates to create incentives to encourage this.
Three things struck me as I travelled back from the meeting. First was the dynamic quality of discussion. There was a richness of ideas, which everyone helped to develop, bringing a range of experience, and an openness to try new things and get things done. Second, the energy created by working across sectors and silos. This was clear both in how people approached the discussion on taking forward the action plan, but also in lots of spin off discussions about potential collaborations, and new connections being made. And third was the equal nature of the discussion - demonstrating a real understanding by those there of what cross sector and partnership working needs to mean (and so often doesn't).
In the next weeks and months Urban Forum will be working with, and following the progress of local partners in putting this plan into action, recording what we learn as we go along. Watch this space...