I have just finished reading an autobiography of Jane Jacobs, one of the most well-known writers about urban planning and a lifelong community activist. Her most famous book is the The Death and Life of Great American Cities. Coincidentally, at the end of last week, I received an invitation, along with everyone else in Manchester, to consult on the Northern Gateway, a massive proposed redevelopment of parts of North Manchester close to Manchester City Centre.
The second meeting of the Macc Policy Network was held yesterday and it was absolutely fascinating. The range of issues that participants spoke about demonstrates again (as if it that was actually required), the richness, diversity and passion in the VCSE sector.
"Community development work is a huge force for good that could, if done well, transform the lives of people ,,,,,, if done poorly community development work can cause serious damage to communities."
Following the first publication by The Manchester Community Development Work Practice Group, "The Rise of CDW in Manchester", this blog tells the story of my journey into community development work and some of its key insights.
I like stats and I like stories and I like it even better when the two are put together, because that’s where real richness is found.
I went to Young Manchester’s Welcome Event a couple of evenings ago held at HOME. It was a positive and celebratory event with performances by a number of young people including beat boxing, singing and dancing, as well as the usual heartfelt speeches, the best of which (sorry to other speakers) was one by Saeed Atcha, founder of the magazine Xplode (an invitee to the royal wedding!). He is definitely one to watch.
This blog is going to seem really ungrateful but I know for sure I am not alone in this view.
I am a bit fed up of seeing another fund that gives out tiny grants.
I’ve just had a look at the Balfour Beatty, Laing O’Rourke and Sir Robert McAlpine Construction Fund which is £20,000 in all, and is giving out “small” grants of £500 and “large” grants of £2,000. £2,000 is not a large grant, it’s a tiny grant!
Greater Manchester Mental Health Trust is doing the same thing, though the overall pot is much larger, they are giving out lots and lots of tiny grants.
Earlier today I read part of a new report by the King's Fund called ‘Re-imagining Community Services’. It analyses the progress made toward creating new models of community services and summarises some of the key principles that should guide the development. It’s illustrated by a number of case studies (some rather less convincing than others – Wigan as an exemplar of working with local assets – it doesn't even have an infrastructure provider since Wigan CVS collapsed a couple of years ago).
The collapse of Carillion is just the latest in a long line of failures by private companies to carry out public services in an effective and cost effective manner. Does anybody really believe, anymore, that privatising the railways or electricity or water, was a good idea?
Every year I do a humorous update on some of the policy issues and trends over the year. (2016, 2015). Given the general level of bleakness (read this if you feeling particularly strong) it seems only reasonable to try a lift the mood a fraction, whilst having a gentle dig at some of the frantic absurdity that surrounds us.
I wrote this essay for a competition (which I didn't win), run by the King's Fund, called "The NHS if’ that explored future scenarios for the NHS. I wanted to write something in a different style, with a bit more of a human feel than the example essays that they commissioned "policy" people to write. I wrote it about the area I live in and the GP surgery I go to and it has some people from Chorlton in it (suitably disguised). In the end, I thought the winning essays were pretty good.