I want to clarify some points in my previous blog post which have led to misunderstandings about some aspects of the Community Organisers programme.
1. I didn’t mean it to sound as if Government dictated Regenerate’s involvement – they didn’t. We had written Re:generate in from the start as lead training partner because of our experience of and admiration for their work, and their ‘Root Solutions Listening Matters’ is the core of our approach to what Community Organisers will do. I simply wanted to make clear that they were the only partner for whom specific confirmation was sought (which is entirely reasonable since they were the proposed lead training partner). Whenever I say ‘the Locality approach’ I mean the approach to hosting, training, networking and sustainability that we put forward in the bid and are continuing to develop in partnership.
2. The criticism of the Majorians and Minorians exercise was, as far as I know, a single anonymous conversation reported by Tessy Britton. We had excellent feedback about the exercise from most participants at the training itself and afterwards, and no-one has raised the issue directly with any member of the programme team.
3. While there is scope for bona fide proposals to develop ‘Go Deeper’ training options, not all options will be appropriate to ensure a coherent core programme for the organisers and we will be under no obligation to accept any specific proposals.
4. The Programme Board for the CO programme is led by Barbara Harbinson from the Locality board, with representation from OCS as the ‘senior customer’ and Re:generate as the ‘senior supplier’. The board will shortly be joined by two representatives of the Kickstarters and, in time, by two representatives of the COs themselves.
5. I mentioned that we will shortly be inviting proposals for the formative evaluation/programme advisory role. In the bid this was mooted as one of the various roles to be played by MMU. However, given the fact that Government is unlikely to commission an independent summative evaluation, this work becomes even more important and we have decided that it is essential to put it out to tender in order to test the market, encourage creative and appropriate proposals and undertake the ‘rigorous selection process’ that was not possible at bidding stage.
We all have different attitudes to social media. I am generally in favour, especially as it allows me to communicate late at night, without travelling, directly to the interested. However, given the potential breadth and unknown agendas of the audience, there are immense challenges. Since I value the contributions and constructive criticism of people ‘out there’, I will carry on taking the risk of being misconstrued and hope that readers make allowances for the complexity of this exciting and experimental programme. Just to remind you of some of the basics…
We aim to nurture a community organising movement in England that is grown directly from the strengths, concerns and hopes of communities across the country. Organisers will be local people, recruited and hosted by local community organisations. They will build trust, respect and networks within self-defining local areas through dialogue and a systematic, broad-based local listening process. This process (Re:generate’s ‘Root Solution Listening Matters’) ‘ignites the impulse to act’ by focusing on what people care about – what they love, what makes them sad/angry/frustrated – and the dreams they have of a better life, taken forward through specific, achievable collective actions. Organisers will listen to residents in their homes, on the street and where they gather, and they will also listen to public service and third sector workers, small businesses and local institutions to help develop collective power to act together effectively for the common good as identified locally.