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Innovation Explored: Creating the conditions for a radically different relationship with your communities

April 4, 2024  
In partnership with

New Local partnered with Bridges Outcomes Partnerships for an Innovation Exchange on creating the conditions for a radically different relationship with your communities – centred around councils developing their focus on wellbeing of people and communities. In this Innovation Explored we reflect on the key learning and insights shared by participants in the session. 

The session focused on the opportunities, challenges and practicalities around developing a stronger focus on wellbeing as a lens through which to work with and support communities. Participants reflected on the approaches and ways of working needed to understand the wellbeing priorities of different communities. As well as the tensions that can emerge between the practicalities of processes like funding and reporting mechanisms and the time needed to genuinely work with communities to understand and identify ways to improve wellbeing. The session also explored how to develop wellbeing as a focus across the council through processes like embedding wellbeing measures.  

Here are six practical insights from the session: 

  1. Recognise the diversity of priorities across your communities – find opportunities to understand the nuances of wellbeing priorities across your local area. These may look different from one place to another and between different groups of people – for example wellbeing challenges for young people in an area may be very different from the challenges felt by older people.  
  1. Identify where the opportunities are to have conversations with communities about wellbeing – a range of teams across the council may be well placed to have conversations with people and communities that can all help to inform how the council understands and approaches community wellbeing. Identify the services and places (such as libraries or community hubs) where these conversations could be happening. Also think beyond council staff to VCSE partners and others who may have the trust, relationships and networks to have these conversations. It is also important to consider how these insights are shared in order to inform work across the council.  
  1. Support communities to be able to talk about wellbeing – people may be feeling overwhelmed by a whole set of immediate concerns. A clear tangible question or aspiration, thoughtful facilitation and creative tools and workshop design can all help support community members with a reflective space to think about and discuss their wellbeing priorities.  
  1. Recognise the time required to have genuine conversations with communities about wellbeing – good community engagement takes time and requires trust. It’s important to try and establish buy-in for this kind of approach from senior leaders. One practical way to do this could be to invite senior leaders to participate in community workshops so they understand more about the process and the power and potential of it.  
  1. Take a hyperlocal approach to understanding wellbeing – working in a hyperlocal area can create the opportunity to bring together empirical data on that area alongside conversations with communities in order to build a much richer picture of wellbeing priorities in that place.  
  1. Make use of evidence and approaches that already exist both inside and outside the council – as you look to develop and embed ways to understand and measure wellbeing in communities, ensure you build on the resources you already have internally – such as existing measures and dashboards. There are also lots of external tools and resources available that can support you to develop your approach to measuring wellbeing.  

The Innovation Series

Innovation Exchanges give participants from our member councils a space to step away from day-to-day activities and engage with peers from across the country. Each session addresses a big challenge or opportunity facing councils and their communities. Sessions are peer-led and practically-focused, so participants come away insights, ideas and learning to share with their teams.

Innovation Explored series feature a write-up of the core points from the Innovation Exchange, alongside practical learning from councils and other experts pioneering new approaches to tackling today’s biggest challenges. Each Innovation Explored also shares a roundup of relevant resources from the sector and beyond.

April 4, 2024
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