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Two Nicks and a Jill on ‘Keep it Local’ and ‘Local Area Coordination’

Nick Sinclair, Director of the Local Area Coordination Network chats to Nick Plumb, Policy Officer at Locality and Jill Greenfield, Director of Communities at Kirklees Council, about the Keep it Local Network and Local Area Coordination…

From Nick S – I was recently at one of the fabulous Better Way Zoom events where I heard Nick Plumb from Locality speaking about his work. We connected afterwards to chat further about their Keep it Local Network and the Local Area Coordination Network convened by Community Catalysts. Their Network had been on my horizon for a while, so I really welcomed the chat.

I shared with Nick P that Local Area Coordination was a council led initiative built on core principles and that it is all about:

  • Supporting people and families achieve their vision of a good life, use their gifts and make their contribution
  • Helping communities to be self-supporting and to flourish.
  • Transforming systems, building bridges and strengthening relationships between citizens, communities and services

Nick P shared a bit about what the Keep it Local Network was trying to do…

From Nick P – In recent years, we have seen a trend towards scale and standardisation in our public services. This trend has left local service provision the increasing preserve of a handful of big national providers, who can swoop in and win the mega contracts on offer. Local community organisations are left on the outside looking in, unable to provide the tailored support they have developed with local people and which they are often the best and most experienced organisations to provide.

It’s hard to see how this approach is in places’ long-term interests. Local people have no say in the service they receive and end up with poor quality, tick box provision that fails to resolve their problems. Demand continues to rise and money flows out of the local economy. The Keep it Local Network is for local authorities which want to move away from bureaucratic commissioning and big outsourcing contracts. Instead they are unlocking the power of community: building strong local partnerships, sharing power and maximising local strengths.

But we know changing direction is a difficult thing to do. So, we have convened the Keep it Local Network in partnership with Lloyds Bank Foundation to support places on this journey and help make change happen.

From Nick S – It turned out from our discussion that we shared a common friend, Kirklees Council, who are both subscribers to Keep it Local and growing Local Area Coordination too. I got in touch with Jill Greenfield, Director of Communities, who I’ve had the pleasure of working with quite a bit.  I asked Jill what she thought about the two approaches side by side…

From Jill – For some time now, Kirklees Council has been working hard to build on the strengths and gems that exist in our communities.  We have been building a new relationship between citizens, communities and the council which is built on trust, reciprocity and collaboration. By using the Keep it Local principles we have been able to get a good conversation going as to what this means in terms of commitment to change. By implementing Local Area Coordination we have started to see how this vision can be brought to life in a very practical, person centred and community orientated way.  To me it seems the two ways of thinking and working are hugely complimentary.

From Nick P – One of our six Keep it Local principles is “commit to your community and proactively support local organisations”. Another is “think about the whole system, not individual service silos”, and a third is “focus on early intervention now to save costs tomorrow”. As Jill highlights, Kirklees Council has been aiming to put these principles into action in recent years. One of the ways they are doing this it to support Local Area Coordination.

Nick S and the Local Area Coordination Network are working with the councils like Kirklees to help them to build on the assets in their community. Many Locality members – community organisations across the country, work with their local authority to do the same.

Our Keep it Local Network is building this movement of local authorities that work in this way. As we look to a coronavirus recovery, we will be working to make sure there are more places like Kirklees, which use the full range of tools at their disposal to unlock the power in their communities.

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