Civic Futures

I’m really looking forward to having been selected to take part in the Civic Futures programme funded by the Mayor of London and facilitated by some great thought-provoking organisations.

Civic Futures is a growing Fellowship facilitated by Koreo, Dark Matter Labs and The Young Foundation, in partnership with the Greater London Authority. It will work with up to 30 people from across London’s civil society and local government to facilitate collective learning and discovery experience focused on peer connection, exploration and inquiry, systems thinking, and collaboration across London’s civil society.

If you want to find out about the pilot and how people took part in the pilot Civic Futures, check out this inspiring interview facilitated by Koreo.

I’m always committed to work in the open and so here is my application

1. Why does Civic Futures appeal to you, and what do you hope to gain from being part of this project?

The power of bringing people together from different backgrounds to challenge & support each other with that spirit of openness and curiosity attracts me to the programme. I want to develop strong personal relationships with people where we can support each other through difficult and uncertain times, challenge each other to be more radical and inclusive and energise each other to bring to life new ideas

As a binational and having lived in different countries, I’ve always felt “in-between” cultures. It’s helped me understand that when you’re in those “in-between” spaces, you need to become more curious and put yourself in other people’s shoes.

By getting under the skin of how people from different backgrounds are experiencing and tackling similar issues, you can build stronger relationships that help you work together. It helps you become more open about your challenges. It’s why in my spare time, I help design festivals to bring to life new ways of tackling inequalities and building community.

To help our communities navigate a very uncertain transition and find ways to tackle inequalities, we need different types of leadership that can empathise with people’s experiences, activate their imagination and challenge the status quo.

I believe that genuine change doesn’t happen in a big bang way. Instead, it spreads through stories of people’s lived experience that mobilises people from different backgrounds around a common cause. They then test out different ways of tackling the issues which show a visible impact on the ground, challenge power and build community. That’s why I was excited by the call for action by Civic Leaders and the process of enquiry, exploration & experimentation. It will help me in my everyday work — in particular improving how I help my organisation develop strategy, drive organisational change and support our partnerships.

2. Tell us about your current role and work

I’m head of strategy at Camden Council. At the heart of what we do is try and root the strategies of the organisation in the lived experience of our communities, working closely with services to amplify the impact of their work and put in building blocks to make the change stick.

We work with services to lead the development of strategies on issues from homelessness to the climate crisis, campaigns such as We Make Camden or platforms like the Renewal Commission.

We mobilise partners around common causes that we can tackle together — from developing a Loneliness Lab to ensure future regeneration designs out isolation to future parks accelerator to help improve health & wellbeing. We also work with partners to secure multi-million investment for organisations in the borough to deliver advice, employment support, physical activity and homelessness prevention.

We develop programmes that co-design with communities solutions to issues in their neighbourhoods — from empowering communities to run neighbourhood hubs to testing interventions to reinvent our high streets.

I’m also passionate about creating new infrastructure for communities, from developing ways for underrepresented groups to influence through Camden Women’s Forum, Neighbourhood Makers Group & Community Champions to developing a Public Collaboration Lab to enable universities to provide community organisations with design and entrepreneurship support

3. What do you hope to bring to the programme?

I’d love to bring my curiosity to learn from people from different backgrounds experiencing common challenges so we can work out how to tackle them together, try things out, make mistakes to learn and help each other to adjust and improve. It’s why in my spare time, I’ve been active in European Alternatives to help young people to develop & run their festivals in 10 cities and take them out of cities and getting young people to take caravans to film & bring to life how communities in unseen places are tackling issues. I would use my blog to share what I’m learning on the programme with a wider audience.

I’d love to bring my energy to mobilise people at different levels using creative methods to tackle issues — frontline staff to senior leaders from different organisations and communities, from my experience in local government and in cultural organisations so the Civic Leaders network can try out innovative ways to explore, experiment & storytelling.

I’d love to bring my networks to help connect people on the programme to other organisations and communities — to share what we’re learning, as well as help people on the programme tackle issues or access potential partners. I have strong connections in local government through facilitating the London Policy & Strategy Network, as well as with anchor institutions from different sectors through leading on strategic partnerships.

I’d love to bring my experience in helping turn exciting collaborations between partners and communities into social infrastructure that helps embed new ways of working. Like the Public Collaboration Lab, I developed with Central Saint Martins to use design to help residents redesign services or become everyday entrepreneurs or U Lab Lambeth, which brought frontline staff, policymakers, activists & entrepreneurs to help navigate the personal change they were going through as well as testing ways to tackle issues locally.

I’d love to bring my commitment to connecting issues that emerge through the Civic Leaders programmes with the lived experiences of communities I work with, and test ways to tackle those issues out with fellow Civic Leaders in our respective communities — like me supporting them in their local area or inviting them to provide peer challenge in mine.

I’d love to work with fellow civic leaders to explore how the programme can be a platform to better connect civil society and local government to tackle issues across London in a way that’s more equal, inclusive and relational.



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Head of Policy Design, Scrutiny & Partnerships @newhamlondon #localgov Co-founder of #systemschange & #servicedesign progs. inspired by @cescaalbanese