Tailor Made: How do community groups improve society?

 

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Supporting community, supporting society…

Research from the Community Development Foundation shows that vital contributions from small community groups are making huge benefits nationally to society.

Today sees the launch of a research project ‘Tailor Made: how community groups improve people’s lives’; from The Community Development Foundation.

The CDF have developed a specific micro-site, where the range of research into community group impact can be found. See more detail here.

‘Nearly all of the groups identified as being under the radar, are providing tailored services to their community with an income of less than £2,000 a year. With increasing pressure on public funding, we are using this research that demonstrates the important contribution that community groups make to society as a call to action to secure their future.

The research found that community groups are able to develop ‘tailor-made’ support for people in their communities. They complement statutory services because they have the flexibility to meet specific needs with groups of people or whole communities – providing bespoke support.

The types of outcomes of the work being carried out by these groups include:

  • building safer communities: They prevent crime, support victims of crime and support ex-offenders in rebuilding their lives
  • improving the physical environment: They maintain and improve the physical environment including parks, allotments and buildings
  • improving health and well-being: They tackle the wider causes of poor health and wellbeing such as poverty, housing, employment, crime, pollution and isolation
  • improving local economies:They provide training and support to help people into work. They also contribute to economic growth by supporting people to start small businesses and helping people to manage their money better so there is more to spend locally.’
Posted on cdf blog 29.10.2014

The community groups provide ‘lived experience’ of the issues they are working with which provides a unique insight to support other forms of knowledge. The trust gained by these groups makes people in communities more likely to come forward for help and support.

The research project can be viewed on Community Development Foundation website, as a downloadable document or as a series of chapters on the Tailor-Made research page.

It was jointly funded by The Community Development Foundation, Asda Foundation and Trust for London.

Sue Martin – SmithMartin Partnership LLP, Cambridge- building better communities

DolphinBookBox returns

DolphinBookBox - services from SmithMartin image
All our services in one place…

We have recently re-energised our oldest brand, DolphinBookBox. Some 10 years or so ago this was the delivery mechanism on-line for our community library and book delivery service.

What we have found recently is that, after over a decade of development, our Partnership ‘elevator pitch’ – what is it you do? – was getting longer and longer.

To stop our meeting attendees glazing over, as if they would, we have recompiled the BookBox web site and converted it into a feature suite for our miscellany of Partnership projects and services.

There is a logic to our Partnership offering, with inter-connected themes for all our work.

Our print and design service keys into our community web service, our project management efforts around community buildings key into our skills in governance and policy advice.

Our children’s book business delivery synergises with our international on-line contact project Books go Walkabout, which itself feeds projects into our publishing house activities for new eBooks and recharged back catalogue creation….and so on.

You can see the connections all on one website here, at DolphinBookBox.co.uk

SmithMartin LLP – diverse connnectivity and services for your project.

Making connections in the Storyverse

We think that our projects are about making connections. Connecting children with books, connecting people with communities, making information freely available on-line for those communities of interest…revealing new things in new ways.

We do use technology, we love the web for its endless potential to reveal and strive to make access to that information and the connections as simple, yet as meaningful as possible.

We recently came across the Small Demons web site. This makes connections from within books, to all the elements of a story that you might think are important.

Small Demons sets out to index the content of books, but to also allow you to cross reference that content with other books, allowing you to build your own Storyboard. This short film gives you a flavour of the intellectual possibilities for your Storyboard…

 

 

As you would expect, the site is fully integrated with all the social media connections you will need to share your Storyboard. (If you have added a book, the site offers viewers the opportunity to buy it too, of course).

You can see a quickly created example of a Storyboard, using some of our interests with the keyword ‘community’ here.

Small Demons is a new way to explore texts, but it definitely captured our imagination.

You can see our books and making connections projects here…

Books go Walkabout        City Stories           Thirdsectorweb

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Emotional creativity – imaginative landscapes…

shekhurkapurPic

 

Shekhar Kapur and A R Rahman have created a new Bangalore based social network for creative expression – QYUKI.

Using the internet and a web connection to set your mind and your imagination free.

 

 

The aims of QYUKI are that…

…the platform aims to discover the vast untapped talent of India and the Indian diaspora; mentor and transform them into brands of the future
Qyuki’s dynamic young team lives off one common dream – to empower people’s self-expression and help build their creative identity.

As a tool for social connectivity we liked the system of casting ’emo votes’ for submission to the network. Casting a vote on an emotional basis for what you have just read or seen.

Shekhar Kapur was a chartered accountant in an oil company, before changing his life to become an Oscar nominated actor, director and producer of films.

A visit to the home page of QYUKI offers the viewer a short presentation by Kapur and co-founder A R Rahman – the talk by Shekhar Kapur we found particularly inspiring. He talks about the stifling of creativity and the potential to realise ambitions for young people and how letting go with that imagination and engaging across the world with others for creativity is a great way to change your expectations and those of others. His own life course illustrated.

A philosophy that chimes with our partnership approach to international and UK projects and how to use the internet for community gain and individual expression within a framework of ethical action.

We are currently supporting Marham Voices, a Heritage Lottery funded community project which aims to deliver a oral history and heritage publication for a rural community.

Part of the process is to create an oral archive and free publication for the community and we have built an Open Source and free software ‘tool-kit’ which will enable volunteers to create digital and print outputs for the project – at no cost for users or the project. (The hardware and physical technology generously supported by The Heritage Lottery Fund).

In our own small way we hope that by deploying our technology as a community resource we can help to create an emotionally coherent and better understood landscape for a small corner of the UK…with a lot of fun doing it along the way!

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Authorities – give away your space?
Become an ideas enterprise…

ideasPic55We were reading an interesting web article about the internet giant AOL and how they had made available, at no charge, the 225,00 square feet of office space they own in Palo Alto – aimed at cultivating entrepreneurs, business start ups and technical ideas.

It started us thinking as to why the model is not more prevalent in the UK.

We hear much about the surge in social enterprise and the third sector taking up contracts to deliver innovative new services. The author of this article has recently been working with a company in the North of England to generate a new business, the aim of which is to train and employ as many young people as possible as the business rolls out.

The experience with the local authority in driving forward the enterprise has not been free wheeling or innovative, to say the least.

After people, the cost of premises and space to think, deliver and store everything from servers to the coffee machine occupies a huge part of the budgetary planning.

Getting the premises, and securing access and delivery in them would have no doubt crippled the nascent business had the young people involved been ‘going it alone’.

Our solution was to find an innovative proprosal, driven by our ethical business model, but supplied by the private sector too. (An idea with currency, but not necessarily the right one?)

We would argue for enterprise start ups the cost of premises from local authority landlords should bear no cost.

Why? How can this be sustainable? Well, encouraging ideas and energy into a community, as in the AOL model, serves to reinvigorate a local economy. It provides cash flow to local, already established businesses.

For the local authority it could see an enabling of redundant public assets, which could be empty at present, to encourage the economic base dramatically – making living, energetic buildings and spaces out of often moribund brick edifices.

In my home town there are a number of empty civic buildings which shadow their access roads, offering echoing corridors, but which do not directly invest in the next generation of rate payers, tax contributors and future employers.

Come on elected members, break out of cost restraint mindsets, ease up a little on portfolio risk in the estates department – and truly create an innovation led, enterprise driven local economic framework.

Don’t be an owner of capital, be the owner of an ideas development factory. The young people in your area would love you for it.

You can see the original article by Douglas MacMillan on the Bloomberg Business website here.

Article: Tim Smith – Partner at SmithMartin LLP