What has been interesting about the whole roadshow process is divining the differences and similarities inherent amongst communities teams across the UK. Sometimes there have been stark, highly localised differences, particularly around the political climate in each country; devolution being a critical issue around how organisations engage with and support their residents.
It was a small-ish group, maybe twelve people, but those that attended obviously had an interest in making community investment a higher priority on organisation agendas. My background however, isn't strictly in community investment and so I sat like a fly on the wall to start with while I thought about what it meant from my perspective.
A small but perfectly formed group joined us at the office of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations on 2 November - a big thank you to Lorna and everyone involved for hosting us.
The turnout was a reminder that, especially when setting up a new organisation, we mustn’t assume that people will come to us. We must get out there and seek the viewpoints and best practice of people doing this work, with passion and expertise, across the UK.
The first was around the importance of local priorities, and how different regional and national considerations can have a marked effect on the work we do as community investment professionals. In Belfast this can be stark with the conflict still resonating strongly in different areas of the city, and sectarianism continuing to play a major part in daily life for people.
The Leeds event was a chance for community investment colleagues to come together to learn from each other, inspire each other, and think about how the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment can foster collaboration and promote the good work that our sector does going forward. After each roadshow, we’ll publish a blog with our initial reactions and impressions. By the end of the seven roadshows, we hope to have a good idea of what community investment colleagues around the UK want from the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment in the future.
In this blog, I’m focusing on the fourth pillar of the Centre: inspire.
We want the Centre to develop programmes for delivering collaboration and inspiration for people who are delivering community investment. We envisage the Centre supporting people to network nationally and locally, across different areas of interest, in order to create supportive peer relationships across UK housing.
In today’s blog, I’m focusing on the third pillar: insight.
Building evidence that drives insight and demonstrates the impact of community investment, is the third pillar of the Centre. By focusing on evidence and research, we believe we can support community investment to be perceived as a robust area of business, rather than a nice add-on.
We have already worked alongside the sector as it starts to develop its evidence in this space. The Centre will enable this work to be accelerated, as we develop a range of tools to enhance the work of community investment programmes.
With three days to go until the first of our seven roadshows with community investment professionals across the UK, we wanted to explain our thinking behind the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment. We envisage the Centre having four key pillars: influence, innovate, insight and inspire.
In today’s blog, I’m focusing on the second pillar: innovate.
To encourage and promote innovation, we will curate a programme of thought leadership for the Centre, as well as developing ways of identifying and promoting best practice across the community investment sector.
On 17 October, we will be holding the first of seven roadshows with community investment professionals across the UK. We’ll be sharing our ideas for the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment and asking them how the Centre can meet their needs, expectations and help deliver their day-to-day working in communities.
Before the first roadshow, though, we wanted to share some of our thinking. We’ve got three aims for the Centre:
“It’s fantastic that Sovereign are investing in the development of the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment,” said Andrew van Doorn, Chief Executive of HACT. “As one of the largest housing associations in the south and south west, their commitment to investing in their communities and involvement in the Centre’s future development, will ensure its success.”