We randomly selected fifty people from a representative pool of residents to join the Citizens’ Assembly to discuss and recommend ways the Council should help make Newham a better, happier and healthier place to live. The theme itself reflects the importance of parks and green space to residents, particularly following the challenges to mental and physical health since the start of the pandemic. This Citizens’ Assembly is examining how we can make the borough’s green spaces more attractive and enjoyable for people.

The first day focused on making sure everyone is familiar with the assembly topic ‘Greening the Borough’ and…

I’ve written about how we can use different types of data in the pandemic world we live in to tackle the virus, anticipate emerging trends and test ways to rebuild our economies and communities. Although we have a strong track record of genuinely trying to understand what matters to people and developing skills for citizen scientists to better help us understand the impacts of the pandemic or prosperity in an area going through significant regeneration, we need to be better at using thick and big data and thinking beyond needs to patterns to develop cases for why change is needed.

1. What do we want insight to help us achieve?

Reading Antonio Carluccio’s Italia made me think how virtually every French, Italian or Spanish cookbook breaks down its recipes by region, while you rarely see an English recipe book do the same.

You could argue that England is only now rediscovering its food and cooking. The BBC series “Back in Time for Dinner” takes us on a journey that shows the evolution of our eating habits from rations post-war through to processed and take away food.

We know that if we are to respond to the financial pressures and increasing demand on many of our services, we need to focus much more on improving the delivery of our services and pinpointing where we can reduce demand on them.

We’ve developed a programme brokering support from universities to carry out projects to:

Carry out research, pinpoint improvements from the insights and develop and test actionable solutions with staff and users

While we’ve worked on challenges that have carried out the above, we now want to focus service design on our most important priorities.

1. Service design moves quickly from understanding demand to designing & validating improvements

You may have heard about an organisation that has been at the forefront of tackling the myths around AIDS in South Africa. We met this organisation Treatment Action Campaign during our trip to the region.

I met Regis, a Zimbabwean who coordinates TAC’s campaigns. Treatment for Action Campaign started around 10 years to mark the 60th anniversary of the Declaration of Human Rights, but importantly to ensure dignity and human rights are respected, especially for HIV survivors. They use the Constitution to ensure those rights are respected.

They argue that the government isn’t doing enough to provide access to treatment…

As part of my creative writing in five minutes, this exercise is about deconstructing a character, in my case, that of Laia, who I’ve written about previously about her youth in the 70s through to the current day.

How do you balance getting the quick wins with getting to know the organisation when you start a new job? Getting under the skin of what makes leaders tick and keeps them up at night — help them solve these problems to show your leadership style through calls to action and find your allies and changemakers in the organisation to mobilise around those causes using their skills and networks.

At Kent, when I started, I found that from social care commissioners, youth offending workers and community tutors and one of the calls to was to tackle bullying amongst teenagers, which…

20 years ago, we all worried Y2K was going to ctrl+alt+delete the world when it’s been the 2BS — bubbles and bonuses — which crashed our economy. We’ve gone from the recession to Brexit and we’re finishing the decade with a crisis that’s left us with nothing.

From the war on terror to war on want?

We started the century with most of Europe uniting behind a single currency — the Euro — and divided on fighting the War on Terror. It ended with the continent fighting a political and economic crisis. …


Head of Strategy (Communities) @camdencouncil #localgov Director @euroalter Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese

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