Being Community Catalysts – our practical solutions to pressing challenges
A couple of weeks ago our Angela wrote a piece called Weaving a different picture – about a world, that looks and feels a little different after 6 months of lockdown, distance and uncertainty.
So now we reflect on what has happened, worry it might happen again, and plan what needs to happen next. We can see starkly the huge gaps and challenges created or revealed by the pandemic. We can also see the amazing strengths and opportunities created or revealed by the same pandemic and the fact that everyone – in every sector, on every Zoom, from high to low is saying ‘we must not lose what we gained’.
The key questions she posed were What the heck do we do with it all? How do we weave a totally new picture?
Here at Community Catalysts we have a fair few practical models and approaches – some established and tested, some newer and more innovative – but all designed to create sustainable systems able to nurture connected communities, where citizens care for each other and value the contribution of everyone. As everyone enters a post lockdown period of reflection, we wanted to share the details of a few of those models and approaches in a hope that we might get a chance to make a difference for even more people in even more places. So here goes:
Strengths based diagnostic – understand what you already have and how to develop it
At Community Catalysts we know that with the right help, connected communities, where citizens care for each other can and do emerge. We also know that helping public sector partners develop the right systems and culture helps these communities thrive. To get the ball rolling on this transformative work in any new area we have developed a suite of diagnostic tools. The overarching aims of the diagnostic analysis are to:
• Identify and engage key strategic decision makers and stakeholders vital to the success of any change programme
• Determine what is needed to develop sustainable systems able to nurture connected communities, where citizens care for each other and value the contribution of everyone
• Plan, and where possible co-produce, an approach to change that is tailored to local need and circumstances
New Social Leaders
Covid, lockdown and the discussions we have had with others made us realise the key role strong leaders play in social change. They also helped us see the real challenges that new and inexperienced leaders face. In response we set about coproducing a very new approach to leadership development over the last few months. The result, New Social Leaders, is a low cost, fresh new peer learning experience and growing community of like-minded people. New Social Leaders brings values driven social leaders together and takes a different approach to learning. It is delivered through 4 online workshops combined with personal study. We are looking for people to come forward.
Fulfilling days – real alternatives to day services
Covid-19 looks likely to be a long-term challenge with older and disabled people, used to accessing services and supports, stuck at home without these for many months. In the midst of the crisis Community Catalysts developed The Buzz – helping small local enterprises to develop accessible, inclusive and fun activity videos to for people to engage with at home. We can help Councils, CCGs, colleges or care providers to find, engage, commission and nurture organisations and groups in their area who are willing to produce on-line content and/or engage people virtually in activities or discussions.
Passionate people making a positive difference – creative ways to approach health and care
We have a long history of helping people across the country to use their talents to start and run small enterprises that support and care for people in their community. We also help larger community organisations, many connected to community centres, to diversify, extend and use opportunities in social care and health to make themselves more sustainable. Community enterprises and businesses invest in their place – creating good local jobs and keeping local money local. Through Covid we have developed both a virtual and fastrack offer – so we can help entrepreneurial people, including those facing job loss to start their own small business in the social care or health sectors. To take forward this work we are busy planning a big virtual event, run on two occasions at the end of September. Delegate places are free – so if you are interested in finding creative ways to approach health and care, that take full account of community strengths.
Tackling digital exclusion
We know that many people, especially those living in care homes or other congregate housing can face digital exclusion with little or no access to wifi, tablets or PCs or the support they need to get online and use the internet well. Community Catalysts can help people running care organisations and others to think through the issues of digital exclusion in their services or area and to develop an action plan to address these.
People sometimes need support to live their lives. Sadly, in the world of health and social care this often comes to define who they are with the help that they need overshadowing their skills and strengths. This waste of talent hurts the person, their community and society. At Community Catalysts we know how to help people who are labelled as older or disabled to dream, lead and make things happen. We also know how to help local organisations to create the conditions in which people can follow their dreams, creating their own solutions to the challenges they and their communities face.
Local Area Coordination
Community Catalysts hosts the Local Area Coordination Network which works across England and Wales to support and promote the highly successful and innovative Local Area Coordination model – one which:
• Builds connections, helps people to stay strong and share their gifts in the local community
• Nurtures inclusive, welcoming and self-supporting communities
• Supports system change and the transformation of public services
Local Area Coordinators from Councils who make up the Local Area Coordination Network have been capturing stories and learning from their communities during Covid and co-produced a report which explores how Local Area Coordination can support multilevel recovery, renewal and rebuilding efforts. The stories also formed the basis of a timeline of the Covid crisis which was set against the backdrop of key Government announcements throughout the period and can be used as a reflective tool.