The first of three national seminars took off today in Leeds. Hosted by Groundwork, Sanctuary and FPM, it drew together a range of national and local housing providers.
We heard from Jackie Perry sharing Plus Dane’s vision and strategic leadership for developing long term community based solutions, based on an 8 year partnership in Bromley Farm in Congleton: www.neighbourhoodinvestor.com/Cheshire
The group looked at form and function based on 4 models of ownership and accountability for community based youth provision, as in the photographs.
· Local authority commissioned services
· Voluntary sector led and run
· Housing provider led with hub and spokes model for delivery
· Community organisation or Youth Mutual, supported by partner organisations.
Some key challenges were raised and explored, including these top 6:
1: Strategic leadership and operational management
A national housing provider has 1 manager focusing on young people. What are the challenges in offering strategic leadership and local operational management direction, ensuring local offices have the mandate and guidance to develop partnership working, identifying and responding to local community need?
2: Vision and mission
Housing providers provide housing, not social care. Is taking a key role in sustainable youth provision dreadful and dangerous mission drift or core to the purpose of the sector being about people and place not just bricks and mortar? What’s in the change in a name from registered social landlord to registered provider? How does the sector offer leadership across Local Strategic Partnerships and Children’s Trust arrangements without picking up the tab for all the provision?
3: Making money work to community ends
Money with strings attached can cause more harm than good, leading people to go after the funding which imposes requirements and outputs that may not tie into local identified need. Jackie Perry from Plus Dane said that on Bromley Farm, “Our strategic decision was to avoid seeking money not answering what people wanted.”
4: Honourable long term local partners
Partnerships with schools can be problematic and yet they should be key long term strategic partners with a shared ambition for improving the opportunities, aspirations and outcomes of children and young people in the area. Experience suggests though that schools are at best committed to full life of children and young people in the community and at worst insular, cut off and irrelevant. How can housing best link with local schools and encourage a shared agenda for long term commitment to people and place?
5: Housing providers in partnership
One estate may have a range of housing providers, with no obvious lead. Local authorities rarely offer or encourage a coordinated response. So, how might small scale housing providers work together with the local community and professional partners for a shared community plan, including sustainable youth provision?
6: What’s changed
Measuring the impact – no stats without stories and no stories without stats; it’s not measurement that’s important but what you measure. But how do you meet the challenge of bringing together stats about reduced arrears, evictions and letting times with stories of listening, action and change valued and owned by the community?
We move on to London for the next instalment!