Nov 6, 2020

3 min read

From insight to advocacy

Building on my previous post, where I self assessed our work to NESTA and Collaborate’s checklist for enablers to move from the margins to the mainstream, here’s the second half of those.

6: Advocacy and influence beyond the local system

We developed Camden 2025 to get a collective representation of insights and views of different people, with thousands of people getting involved in conversations about what Camden should be like in 2025. People shared their ideas online, through a newly-formed citizens’ assembly, at public events, in libraries and through resident surveys. A central theme was how residents, community organisations and other partners can work together in new ways to tackle challenges we face in Camden.

As I mentioned in my previous post partners across the borough work together to construct recommendations and asks at a regional and national level, and the most recent example of that is our work to tackle disproportionality that our Black, Asian, and ethnic minority communities face, where we have set out actions we will take as well as others we will influence at a regional and national level. Likewise our citizens assembly on the climate crisis developed proposals that we are implementing as a council, and that we influence government on, but also that neighbourhoods and individuals can put into practice themselves.

We’ve recently developed a strategic partnership with UCL which includes developing our influence at a pan London level and we influence through London Councils and the Recovery Board, but we could be working with our anchor institutions more strategically to prioritise what we lobby on at a London level, a sectoral level and a national level.

We capture learning and stories of our residents before and during the pandemic as well as work we’re doing with partners. My blog is also an effort to work out in the open, but we could be more systematic in sharing the learning in real time of the work we’re doing with communities and partners.

7. A compelling case for change and ambitious vision for place

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 of 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. We have invested in a £7m advice partnership to help us understand the root causes of the need, moving beyond the needs people are presenting with as well as designing a network of advice provision that can flex to changing types & levels of demand? Finally, we need to get a clearer articulation of what the process of change and vision will mean for staff, partners and communities, and understand what we can expect of one another, learning from examples like Wigan’s “The Deal” or Staffordshire’s “Do Your Bit” campaigns.