Friday, 21 June 2024
UK Charity Week 2024 - Sponsored by Sinclair Method UK
Friday, 21 June 2024

New Report Shares Key Lessons from Communities Rethinking Local Services

PUBLISHED recently, ‘Learning from the First Three Years of Working with Communities‘ is a new report by Lloyds Bank Foundation’s learning partner, Brightpurpose, an evaluation and organisational development consultancy, highlighting crucial lessons on new ways of designing and resourcing local services. 

For nearly 40 years, Lloyds Bank Foundation for England and Wales has been supporting small and local charities that help people overcome complex issues like homelessness, addiction, and domestic abuse. After more than a decade of austerity and funding cuts, the availability of local services has declined. These are essential services like refuges, recovery support, shelters and more often provided by small and local charities and other community-led organisations that have seen their own funding decline. Yet in the past five years, in the wake of a global pandemic and cost of living crisis, more people than ever are turning to charities for help.

In 2019, The Foundation started working with six local communities to create sustained change to systems supporting people experiencing complex issues: Bolsover, Great Yarmouth, Halton, Merthyr Tydfil, Redcar & Cleveland, and Telford & Wrekin. Working with voluntary, public and private sector organisations, and academic institutions, as well as people who live locally, these communities are exploring new ways of strengthening small charities and designing and resourcing local services to better support people facing complex issues. After three years of continuous evaluation and identifying and applying the learning from this work, Lloyds Bank Foundation and Brightpurpose have summarised the key lessons so far in the hope it will inspire and encourage other communities working towards sustained change.

Key insights include:

  • Lasting change takes time: Relationships are essential to this work, and they need to be characterised by trust, candour, and the ability to disagree productively before the hard work can begin, behaviours which support that trust cannot be rushed.
  • The role of money: The absence of funding has not been a barrier to local engagement. Rather than funding this work directly, the Foundation has invested in the capacity for people to come together to make the change.
  • Positive change is difficult: All change has the potential to generate challenging feelings and behaviours. Even though local partners are committed to the positive vision for their chosen issue, the practicalities of truly changing the system mean changes and potential loss for individuals and organisations in the stakeholder network, especially those with power.
  • Sometimes it takes more than one try: As there’s no map to this work, there’s also no guarantee of success the first time. Failure is an integral part of innovation.
  • The Goldilocks factors – power, certainty, pace, and shape – must be balanced. Too much or too little of each has a negative impact, and it is essential to find the right balance.

Jill Baker, Director of Communities at Lloyds Bank Foundation, said:

“The People and Communities work shows the power of collaborative action between everyone working in a community – residents and those who make decisions about services and funding. By taking this experimental approach to explore how we can find long-term solutions to deep-rooted and structural local problems, we hope to empower communities and support them to come together to find innovative new approaches.”

Helen Highley, Director of Brightpurpose, who wrote the report and leads the evaluation, said:

“Rethinking services, resourcing and delivery models depends on fundamental changes in relationships and behaviours. That is never going to be straightforward. But with the key local partners in each community sharing a vision and appetite to create lasting change, we are capturing vital insight into how communities make this happen. We share insights as they emerge so that all the communities can benefit from applying the lessons in real-time. Today’s report shares those key insights with a wider audience, and we hope they help others who are also trying to change their corner of the world.”

To learn more about People and Communities and the Lloyds Bank Foundation, visit: www.lloydsbankfoundation.org.uk/communities/people-and-communities.

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