Category Archives: People

Community Impact Initiative C.I.C.

The Community Impact Initiative C.I.C. (The Cii) @TheCiiUK is a forward-thinking social enterprise based in South Wales that strives to develop and deliver innovative solutions to persistent problems and areas of need in our local communities that lead to a range of personal, social and economic benefits.

Established by Trystan Jones, The Cii is a not-for-profit organisation, where income generated is for the sole purpose of its activities, with profits re-invested to enhance and continue its community initiatives, allowing it to strive towards its vision and mission:

  • Vision: A future where our communities flourish and prosper.
  • Mission: To improve our communities through innovative solutions, providing opportunities for marginalised individuals to make a meaningful contribution to society.

The Community Legacy Project is a recent Big Lottery Wales and Screwfix Foundation funded project that supports unemployed, marginalised and disadvantaged individuals to develop construction and employability skills through the purchase, renovation and sale of properties that are empty or in disrepair across Wales. In a nutshell, properties are purchased by the Community Impact Initiative, generally through auction, renovated through the project activities and sold back into the housing market.

We employ a project team who support our participants to learn and develop construction skills whilst carrying out the renovation of the property. Through these activities, the participants develop a wide range of skills, improve their levels of confidence, achieve qualifications, experience voluntary work placements and move closer towards accessing employment. In turn, these properties that were once empty or in disrepair are brought back into the housing market, reducing the effects of anti-social behaviour, crime and vandalism, and the detrimental impact this can have on our communities.

Each property renovation is a unique partnership between the Community Impact Initiative and a support organisation local to the property, such as a charity, housing association, school, EOTAS provision, HMP or probation services. Following purchase, we engage with potential organisations to identify who would be interested working with us.

These support organisations refer individuals to the project who they feel would benefit from the support provided, ranging from those with an interest in construction, to those lacking in self-confidence.

Project examples could include:

  • Partnering with a local charity who support individuals that have an interest in accessing the construction industry, however have barriers to doing so, such as a lack of experience or not holding the relevant mandatory qualifications. In this case, the project will allow the participants to experience the construction industry in a supportive, empathetic environment, develop a range of skills across several trades, and achieve the CSCS card which is mandatory for site work. Therefore, in this case the project will provide the perfect stepping stone for a career in construction.
  • Partnering with a local domestic abuse support organisation who supports women lacking in confidence and self-esteem due to their backgrounds. In this instance, we support participants who do not necessarily have ambitions to access employment in the construction industry but want to develop skills that they can use in their own homes. The outcomes of this project are focused on improving levels of self-esteem, confidence and motivation rather than employment.
  • Partnering with a local school who want to provide their pupils with an insight into the construction industry and how school subjects and studies can relate to employment in this industry. In this case we’ll support pupils to experience the construction environment and get a taster of the various trades and skills prior to them having to decide on a future career path. Experiencing the work environment allows pupils to understand what qualifications are required during their statutory education journey, providing an insight that will support them in engaging with their studies.

As these examples illustrate, each property will be its own unique project within the Community Legacy Project sphere where the outcomes are tailored to the needs of the individuals being supported.

In August 2018 our first project property was bought in Merthyr Tydfil. During the purchase process we engaged with Merthyr Valley Homes, a housing association who support thousands of people in the local area.

In early September 2018 10 participants started the project. A mix of gender and ages, each came from a different background, with varying degrees of construction and employment experience. However, they all had a common goal of learning the skills and gaining the qualifications required to access employment in the construction industry. Through this particular renovation they will experience a range of construction areas including plastering, carpentry, painting & decorating, kitchen/bathroom fitting, tiling, flooring and gardening.

Following referral to the project each participant completed a Health & Safety induction and a training plan outlining their SMART targets. Our project staff monitor progress on a daily basis and carry out formals reviews fortnightly to ensure progress against targets.

At the time of writing all participants have engaged well with the project and have shown a fantastic ability to learn and improve upon the various trade skills being taught. Over the next few weeks we will be inviting local construction companies to open days for them to witness the participants demonstrating their skills with a view to them offering placements, apprenticeships and employment.

The impact of the Community Legacy Project is far-reaching and not limited to the outcomes achieved by the participants. It is our intention that the project continues to grow and develop and deliver outcomes on a personal, community and economic level:

  • Personal – supporting individuals to develop a range of skills, achieve qualifications and support their progression into employment.
  • Community – These personal outcomes will support our local communities through increasing income due to increased employment rates, allowing these communities to flourish.
  • Economic – the economic impact is potentially far-reaching, in such ways as reducing anti-social behaviour, reducing pressure on specialist support organisations and developing a workforce that’s aligned to future property and construction developments.

A model that’s currently in its infancy, it is our intention that by utilising the Big Wales Lottery and Screwfix Foundation funding the model can become self-sustaining in the long-term.

We’re extremely proud to be delivering an innovative approach that is unlike any other in Wales and we look forward to supporting our communities to prosper through these activities.

 

 

Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog

cwmni bro

Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog is a pioneering development in Wales; a network of successful community enterprises which have come together to co-operate under the banner of one overarching community company.

The company operates in the communities of Blaenau Ffestiniog, Trawsfynydd and Penrhyndeudraeth and nearby villages, which between them have a population of about 8,000 people. Blaenau Ffestiniog was the second largest town in north Wales in 1900 with a population of about 13,000 people, but as the slate industry declined the population had more than halved by the year 2000. Blaenau Ffestiniog is now one of the economically poorest areas in the United Kingdom. Despite the de-industrialisation a cultural legacy survives, upon which an integrated and holistic model of community development is being pioneered by Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog.

There are more social enterprises per head of the population in Bro Ffestiniog than anywhere else in Wales. Thirteen of the area’s social enterprises have come together under the banner of Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog. The members are:

Antur Stiniog     www.anturstiniog.com

Barnardos    www.barnardos.org.uk/cabanbach.htm

Cyfeillion Croesor     www.orielcafficroesoratcnicht.co.uk

CellB/Gwallgofiaid    www.cellb.org

Cwmni Opra Cymru    www.opra.cymru

Deudraeth Cyf.    www.deudraethcyf.org.uk

GISDA    www.gisda.org

Seren    www.seren.org    Gwesty Seren www.gwestyseren.org

Pengwern Cymunedol www.ypengwern.co.uk

Trawsnewid

Y Dref Werdd www.drefwerdd.cymru

Ysgol y Moelwyn/Canolfan Hamdden sg@moelwyn.gwynedd.sch.uk

The diverse activities of these ventures include running two hotels, shops, restaurants, cafes, tourist information centre, leisure centre, arts and crafts workshop, mountain biking centre, retail, horticulture, energy production projects, developing allotments, educational and cultural activities, opera, environmental projects, energy saving promotion, reducing food waste, recycling, river cleaning, work with adults with supplementary needs, youth work including to do with homelessness and teaching environmental and media skills.

The company’s aims are to promote co-operation between the constituent social enterprises, nurture new social enterprises and work with small business enterprises which are anchored in the community. All of this is in order to promote the environmental, economic, social and cultural development of the area.

Between them, Cwmni Bro’s members employ some 150 people. A recent analysis of their economic impact showed that a high percentage of their income comes from trading. Further, this income largely stayed and circulated in the area. For every pound received as a grant or loan, a significant proportion, 98 pence, was spent locally, mainly on wages. Of the 1.5 million pounds spent on wages 53% is retained locally. Nearly half the expenditure on goods and services was local and thus circulated money in the area.

In August 2018, a new venture was launched, BROcast Ffestiniog, a community digital broadcasting service, aimed at facilitating communication between the social enterprises and the community and within the community (See BROcast Ffestiniog-YOUTube and facebook.com/BROcastFfestiniog ).

The integrated and holistic model of community development which Cwmni Bro is pioneering offers a pattern which other communities can emulate. Cwmni Bro resonds positively to invitations to visit other communities to explain what has been achieved in Bro Ffestiniog and to discuss the general potential of this model of community development.

The model presents a challenge to government in Wales; to develop policies and appropriate support in order to facilitate the adoption of this model of community development across Wales.

CONTACT

Cwmni Bro Ffestiniog, 49 Stryd Fawr, Blaenau Ffestiniog, Gwynedd. LL41 3AG

CwmniBro@CwmniBro.Cymru      07799 353588

Loftus Village Association

Alison and Bron from Pobl Group have blogged for us ahead of our Building Resilient Communities event on the Loftus Village Association – an intentionally created community that they have been a part of from the beginning.  Come and join us at the event to find out more about the successes and challenges that this community, and Pobl, have had during their journey together.

The Loftus Village Association journey began in 2014 when Charter Housing (now Pobl Group) began the process of trying to find 19 households keen to move into Loftus Garden Village under a shared ownership scheme, and also at the same time to become co-operators.

It was a curious top down approach to setting up an intentional community.

Generally speaking Co-housing projects begin with a group of people who for various reasons want to share space and some time together, whereas we had the homes, but no people!

We had carried out some market research and identified a group of people who were interested in the idea back in 2012/13.  So we began contacting those folk, and interestingly one of those did see the idea through to the end, and 6 years on is now on the Co-op’s management committee.

A lot of people liked the idea of living in Loftus Garden Village.  It’s a particularly beautiful new housing development, and that wasn’t a hard sell.

Also most people liked the idea of living in a street where they know all their neighbours before moving in, had a sense of community, felt safe and enjoyed  living in a visually attractive environment…..so ‘Greener, Cleaner, Leaner‘ living soon became LVA’s values.  However it was all the legal/financial paraphernalia that went with it that many found a stumbling block.

Finding a financial and legal model was a headache for Pobl as an organisation and also for our would-be co-operators.  We examined a few legal and financial models before coming up with a version of our own that felt right for us and also the co-operators.  That done the co-operators had many months of working together to draft a management agreement, as well as months of training sessions on how to work together co-operatively.   The management agreement has given the Co-op the responsibility of collecting the rent, being involved in resales and ‘staircasing up’ (to own a higher percentage) and taking on the early stages of any neighbour complaints.  (none so far).

We lost people, we gained people and eventually ended up with 19 households comprising a complete mix of ages, numbers, and backgrounds.  For some it was their first home of their own.  Being a member of the Co-op meant that you could buy with only a 30% share, making it more affordable than most shared ownership schemes.  For others they were starting out again after changes in circumstances, and for some it was a home for retirement.

To keep morale going while waiting for the builders to ‘hurry up and get on with it’ our co-operators enjoyed fun tasks like choosing their kitchen and bathroom, tiles and flooring, discussing what to do with their community garden and building  (a garage), and generally getting to know one another.

There was an application system to ensure we found people who did genuinely want to be part of a community and support one another, rather than just live in a nice house. Would be co-operators had to fill in a section asking them to indicate how much time they could offer each week or month.

Two years ago the street moved in…bit by bit, with great excitement.  There was a huge amount of camaraderie with lots of ‘lending a hand’ with the trials of moving in.

The Co-op has achieved a beautiful community garden, two shared spaces, an office and a garage where garden tools are stored and kept.  They have held numerous social get togethers (often involving the wider community), including Carols by the Christmas Tree, Halloween, Easter celebrations, a Play Street event, where the road was closed for children to play.  Household costs i.e. boiler servicing and energy charges, are reduced via collective bargaining, and they have a reduced Carbon footprint from other streets by sharing power tools.

They have just held their third annual general meeting.  It hasn’t been a bed of roses, and it won’t ever be.  They complain about one another sometimes, complain about Pobl, and generally don’t really want to do the boring stuff.

But they are a community, and they certainly appreciate the power of that, and wouldn’t want to change it.

GSWAG: A Collaborative Partnership

Partnership working is the way forward for public service delivery. Partnership is hard work, we know that. But the benefits to public services are huge.

We recently got to hear about Gwent Strategic Wellbeing Assessment Group’s (“GSWAG”) approach, so we went along to one of their meetings.

We heard how they are working in partnership to achieve more by learning from each other, by collaborating on the same agenda items. They’re working under the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, putting some of the five ways of working in practice. They’re able to avoid duplication, share their expertise by utilising a common language and giving each other the space to ensure they can discuss areas of contention in a constructive way. They recognise that by working in partnership, they can go far further and achieve far more than they would alone. You can find out more by getting in touch with Bernadette Elias or Lyndon Puddy.

Episode 2: Behaviour Change Insiders

wee wheel.PNG

In Episode Two, we speak to Chris Subbe, who explains the ‘Wee Wheel’ (pictured), introduced to reduce acute kidney injury for hospital patients (1.45 – 7.30 mins). Then, Olwen Williams speaks on the ‘Test no Talk’ approach to improve sexual health screening (8.00 – 21.30 mins). Have a listen below:

Links to resources mentioned in the podcast:

Chris Subbe blog, An audible patient voiceand 1000 Lives Wee Wheel page

1000 Lives Compendium of Outpatient Improvement, report by Olwen Williams on : Self triage innovation in sexual health services – Test no Talk.

 More details at the Wales Audit Office, Good Practice Exchange Podcast Page.

“Action more than words is the hope for our future generations”

Sophie Howe, Future Generations Commissioner for Wales, has spoken many times before on why the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 is an opportunity for us all to measure what matters, not merely what can be counted. Sophie blogs ahead of the ‘Moving from outputs to outcomes’ GPX webinar…

The title of this blog is the latter half of a now well-quoted sentence said by Nikhil Seth, United Nations, on the passing of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act as law in 2015. I use it often in speeches and presentations, as the full quote suggests that Wales is world-leading in adopting such pioneering legislation. But it is “action more than words is the hope for our future generations” that really strikes a chord with me.

For decades, we have been stuck in ‘reaction’ mode, dealing with crises in the here and now. At the sharp end of providing public services, this is understandable in keeping people and organisations safe. It has followed that we measure what we have done – count the people seen, record the number of people dealt with, and place arbitrary timescales and pressures on ourselves – if only to make things happen…to create action. But is it time we question if these actions have been the right ones to take?

People often tell me that the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act has given them permission to question what we have always done. Placing the sustainable development principle at the heart of what we do as a public sector in Wales means thinking differently and acting in a way that allows current generations to meet their needs, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs. To do this, we must think long-term, considering the impact of what we do now on future generations, working together in a joined up way as we seek to prevent problems from occurring or getting worse and involving people in our communities in working towards the seven national goals.

Measuring our impact in a traditional way is not going to allow us to do this. In order to do things differently, we must measure different things. Traditional performance measures are often what are imposed on public bodies by others and rarely reflect the nub of the issue or help us to understand how to prevent the issue from occurring in the first place. Behind the measures to provide a statutory assessment within 5 days, to respond quicker to a call or to deal with an issue in a month’s timescale are real people, just like us and our families. We have lives intertwined with many public services, we have several factors influencing our well-being and too often, we face a confusing negotiation of complicated thresholds and conditions to access services. Many of which are driven by the measures public services have set themselves. Rarely do we ask ‘What matters to you?’ Or ‘What would help you the most?’ Rarely do we measure how well we have done in improving someone’s well-being.

In my recent report, Well-being in Wales: the journey so far, I have given my reflections on how public bodies are moving from doing simple things to leading the way in sustainable development. The guidance to the Act says sustainable development must shape what you do, how you do it and how you communicate (via reporting) the difference you are making. In reviewing the first well-being statements published in April 2017, it is not yet clear how organisations are making sense of their duties and how this relates to other legislation, their corporate objectives, business planning and day-to-day business. An annual report should be integral to the work of the organisation and the sustainable development principle should not be ‘bolted on’.

Communicating this change is important. In annual reports and future well-being statements, public bodies must explain how far they have taken steps to meet their objectives, how effective these steps have been, how they are tracking progress and how they are adopting or adapting new ways of demonstrating progress. Outsiders to organisations, like you and I, need to understand what have they done so far? What does it mean for me? Where do they want to be on this issue in the next 5, 10, 25 years and beyond? How are they going to get there? How will I see improvement in my local area or life?

Many public bodies and public services boards (made up of Chief Executives and leaders of the local public sector collaborating together) are now considering how they communicate the change they are making. This will take time, but I am encouraged to see an exploration of different way to define impact and monitor progress. Action definitely speaks louder than words and my advice would be to measure what matters, not merely what can be counted.

The Future Generations Commissioner for Wales has published ‘Well-being in Wales: the journey so far‘ to complement the Auditor General for Wales’ report ‘Reflecting on year one: how are public bodies implementing the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015?

Moving from outputs to outcomes

Mark Jeffs @markjeffs75, from the Wales Audit Office, has blogged for us ahead of our Moving from outputs to outcomes webinar on May 16.  Read on to find out more about what matters, rearranging the deckchairs and evil kittens…

Everybody loves outcomes.  We all want them. Well – we want good ones at least.  So if we all want them, what is the problem with getting them and focusing public services on delivering them?

This blog offers some personal thoughts on these issues ahead of a webinar that the Good Practice Exchange is hosting in May.

The context – why do we need to shift from outputs to outcomes?

It is a complicated story but broadly, the mid 90s onwards saw a growth in the use of targets to manage the performance of public services.  Generally, these targets were set centrally and based on measures of outputs (how much we do) and how quickly we do it.

Since then, there has been something of a backlash. Many critics argued that the targets had ‘perverse incentives’.  That is, they encouraged people to do what was necessary to meet the target rather than do what was necessary to improve the lives of the people using services.  Also known as ‘hitting the target but missing the point’.

Against this backdrop, the last decade has seen increasing calls for a shift towards ‘outcomes’: to focus public services on ensuring they make a real difference for people.

There is a big value for money issue at stake.  Can it be ‘value’ for money if we spend a lot of money delivering outputs that don’t make people’s lives better?  The true ‘value’ of public service ultimately lies in improving people’s lives. With austerity set to continue to define the public service landscape, the shift to a focus on outcomes can help to move our discussions from doing more with less to making more of a difference with less.

The opportunity: really transforming our services based on ‘what matters’

The great opportunity of shifting from ‘outputs’ to ‘outcomes’ is not about measures at all.  It is about changing our thinking and the way we deliver services.  To shift towards a model that starts with people, the lives they lead and the lives they want to lead. In short – real ‘people centred’ services.

There are reasons to be optimistic. The language of ‘what matters to people’ is increasingly common in public service. Not least in the context of Wales’ approach to social services which is based around the notion of personal outcomes and what matters to people.  More broadly, if you look here in Wales at legislation such as the Social Services and Well-being Act and the Well-being of Future Generations Act, alongside a range of policy documents on public service reform, a new vision of more personalised, user-focused public services is emerging. It involves:

  • Rethinking the relationship between frontline staff and service users (co-production) to focus on improving people’s lives
  • Reshaping the relationships between services / departments (real collaboration around people to give holistic support)
  • Developing the management/ leadership thinking to see the role as enabling the learning and change needed to improve lives, rather than monitoring numbers/ performance

The issue of what outcomes to measure is secondary to the underlying behaviour, cultural and systemic shifts implied by this vision.  If we start with understanding what matters, we can then work out how collectively we can organise ourselves (as public services working with individuals and communities) to help people achieve the things that matter to them.  From there, we can identify ‘outcomes’ measures that are rooted in the lived experience of people’s lives, rather than abstract idealised imagined conditions of wellbeing.

That is not to say that this is easy.  There is a big technical challenge around how you measure personal outcomes and make them consistent and meaningful at different levels (service/ organisation/ nation).  By their nature, personal outcomes are . . . personal.  They are different and inconsistent.  I worked on the Auditor General’s Picture of Public Services 2015 report. In that report we flagged the approach developed by the Scottish Joint Improvement Agency: a framework for linking personal outcomes through consistent categories that are tailored to individual circumstances.  The Joint Improvement Agency gives examples of how these can be aggregated through different levels from the individual to national outcomes.

The risk: superficial changes (or rearranging the deckchairs)

There is a risk that public services respond to the pressure to focus on outcomes by doing the bare minimum. The simple way to shift to outcomes is for public sector leaders to replace existing output targets and measures with a new set that uses more ‘outcomey’ language.

There are many reasons to be sceptical about an approach that is essentially the result of a discussion about measurement amongst a relatively small group of senior leaders.  The questions I would pose to those adopting such an approach are:

  • What is the evidence that these are the right outcome measures – how do you know they really reflect the things that matter to service users and to the wider public?
  • What are the links between new measures and the plans to change the real experience of providing and receiving services?

For me, the biggest risk of this approach is that it does not lead to the kinds of changes we need to see.  Instead, we get superficial changes.  The new outcome measures form part of a new ‘strategy’.  There will be a new overarching delivery plan, departmental action plans and underpinning service delivery plans.  Frontline staff may look at all of this paper once (at most) and then get on with the business of providing services much as they always did.

The other big risk is that changing from numerical output targets to numerical outcome targets risks creating the same perverse incentives and behaviours.  Instead of chasing outputs, service providers chase numerical outcomes with unintended consequences. This concern is articulated in Toby Lowe’s ‘kittens are evil’ critique.

The baby and the bathwater

It is essential to emphasise that the shift from outputs to outcomes is one of emphasis.  There should be no sense that output, activity and timeliness measure no longer matter. They do.  They are vital for understanding demand and capacity and planning the delivery of services and systems.  Nobody could argue that we should stop measuring and caring about how many people come into and out of hospitals and how long they wait for treatment.  The issue is how much emphasis we place on these measures and how much they should drive behaviours.

So what are the key messages on shifting from outputs to outcomes:

  • The shift to outcomes is about so much more than measures and indicators – it is a different way of seeing and providing public services that starts with people’s lives and what matters to them in their lives.
  • As well as service delivery, shifting to outcomes means a shift in the role of management as enabling and leading practical changes rather than monitoring numbers and chasing targets.
  • When it comes to measures, the idea of a shift ‘from’ outputs to ‘outcomes’ may miss the point – it is about the right balance of information to understand both what is happening in the system and how well the system is doing at making the lives of people and communities better.

 

 

Behaviour Change Insiders

BCI_final

Listen to Chris from the Good Practice Exchange chat with behaviour change insiders in our brand new podcast series!


Listen now:

Episode 1: Professor Judy Hutchings & Rupert Moo

Episode 2: Doctors Olwen Williams & Chris Subbe

Episode 3: Rachel Lilley & Matt Stowe

Episode 4: Professor Dave Snowden & Andy Middleton

Episode 5: Barod’s Jargon Busters


These podcasts have been created from three behaviour change festivals that we helped deliver at Bangor, Swansea and Aberystwyth Universities during 2016/17. We also worked closely with Good Practice Wales and the material from the behaviour change festivals is available here on the Good Practice Wales website. We want to share what we learnt about behaviour change.

In these podcasts, Chris Bolton will be chatting with some of the most influential and knowledgeable people involved in behaviour change.

NB: This is a pilot of a new way of working for us. Please expect things to change as we as we go along, as well as some learning from our mistakes! If you have any feedback on the pilots, please let us know in the comments section.

 


Mewnwelediad Newid Ymddygiad

BCI_final


Gwrandewch nawr:

Episode 1: Professor Judy Hutchings & Rupert Moo

Episode 2: Doctors Olwen Williams & Chris Subbe

Episode 3: Rachel Lilley & Matt Stowe

Episode 4: Professor Dave Snowden & Andy Middleton

Episode 5: Barod’s Jargon Busters


 

Dyma’r cyntaf o chwe phodlediad rydym yn eu treialu ar newid ymddygiad mewn gwasanaethau cyhoeddus.

Mae’r podlediadau wedi’u creu o gyfres o wyliau newid ymddygiad rydym wedi helpu i’w cynnal ym Mhrifysgol Bangor, Prifysgol Abertawe a Phrifysgol Aberystwyth yn ystod 2016/17.

Ein nod yw defnyddio rhywfaint o’r hyn a ddysgwyd am newid ymddygiad er mwyn rhannu gwybodaeth.

Bydd y rhan fwyaf o’r siarad gan y bobl sydd wedi cyflawni newid ymddygiad, yn arbenigwyr yn y maes, neu’r ddau.

Cynllun peilot yw hwn, nid ein ffordd arferol o weithio. Disgwyliwch i rai pethau newid ar y ffordd a byddwn hefyd yn dysgu o’n camgymeriadau. Os oes gennych unrhyw adborth ar y cynlluniau peilot, rhowch wybod i ni yn yr adran sylwadau.

Wales Co-Operative

Casey Edwards @casey_walescoop from the Wales Co-Operative Centre @WalesCoOpCentre has blogged for us about how housing co-operatives are helping to build resilient communities.  The North Wales leg of our #WAOADM event is next week.

No two housing co-operatives are the same; it’s not a one size fits all approach. Co-operative housing is about communities having democratic control over decision-making about their homes, neighbourhoods and communities. It is a flexible and innovative approach to ways in which we meet the housing needs and the aspirations of local neighbourhoods. Co-operatives can be developed in either new or existing housing and can cover a range of tenancies.

The Co-Operative Housing Project was established in 2011 and is managed by the Wales Co-Operative Centre, and supported by the Confederation of Co-Operative Housing. The project has helped to deliver over 130 homes across Wales and is supporting the delivery of many more by developing expertise in different co-operative models and providing advice to developers and co-operative groups.

I joined the Wales Co-Operative Centre in May 2017 as the project advisor and have realised it takes a lot of hard work from a lot of people to get these schemes ‘shovel ready’. All of the housing schemes have developed in contrasting ways and adopted different models, from the different ways in which schemes were instigated and funded; how individuals came to be involved; to the size, nature and tenure of the housing co-operative. So does all of this hard work actually pay off?

Being part of a housing co-op is about more than just having an affordable roof over your head. It is about being part of a support system, helping yourself but also taking the responsibility to help others in the wider community. Read about how Luana, at Loftus Village Association, is helping to bring the community together through organising events and social activities.

Examples like this also show how living in a housing co-op can also help to tackle isolation and loneliness, especially amongst the vulnerable and the elderly. Co-operative communities form close bonds and look after one another; that feeling of being part of a community which is hard to come by in the 21st century. Haydn from Old Oak Co-Operative shows how being involved in the co-op has helped him grow in confidence and take on responsibility within the community.

Living in a diverse, supportive community also gives people the chance to share knowledge and skills with each other, that maybe they wouldn’t have had the opportunity to learn living in more traditional environments. As part of the development of the co-op, tenants are involved in a rigorous training programme which includes topics such as co-operative principles, governance and housing management. They learn new transferrable skills which can help them improve their employment status or give them the confidence to change career. Our scheme Ty Cyfle is empowering young people to manage their housing independently, learning new skills along the way.

This self-help and self-responsibility approach to addressing housing need is having a much bigger impact than just providing affordable homes, it is creating self-sufficient, resilient and healthy communities, which can reduce the demand on wider support services.

Living in a community-led housing scheme can offer the kind of support that public services are increasingly finding it difficult to provide, often in a more personal and cost-efficient way. The Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act has now placed a duty on public bodies to think more about the long-term; to work better with people, communities and each other; to prevent problems and to take a more joined up approach. Co-operative housing is doing so already.

The seven wellbeing goals compliment the seven co-operative principles developed by the International Co-Operative Alliance, which all co-operatives should adhere to. They both emphasize the importance of developing attractive, viable, healthy and sustainable communities, that maintain, even enhance the natural environment. A democratic and fair society with an economy that generates wealth, without discrimination. A society that enables people to fulfil their potential no matter their background or circumstances. A society that provides employment opportunities and education and training for a skilled workforce. A co-operative society that highlights the importance of social and cultural wellbeing.

Co-operative and community-led housing can be a part of the solution to the housing crisis in the UK. But more than just a quick fix, it can be a part of a long term sustainable option to providing affordable homes and creating resilient communities.

The Wales Co-Operative centre offers support and advice to any new or existing organisation wishing to develop co-operative housing. We can provide access to experts’ advice about co-operative housing and we can provide skills and development training for members of a co-operative. We have recently developed a Co-operative Housing Pilot Toolkit, developed to help community groups, housing associations, co-ops, local authorities and others in the initial stages of considering how to develop new co-operative & community-led homes. Take a look.

More information on co-operative housing and what support is available can be obtained from the Wales Co-operative Centre on 0300 111 5050 or at co-op.housing@wales.coop.

Leaving the Good Practice Exchange

After four years at the Wales Audit Office, Dyfrig Williams will be leaving the Good Practice Exchange team on 11 August. Below, he blogs about his time with the organisation and where he’s off to next.

A photo of Dyfrig Williams at GovCamp CymruI’ve been interested in public service improvement since starting my career at the Wales Council for Voluntary Action, and this job has felt like getting paid to do my hobby for a lot of the time. I’ve been able to combine my personal interests, where I’ve attended events like GovCamp Cymru and LocalGovCamp, with my professional life where I’ve worked closely with both internal and external stakeholders in order to really interrogate what good public services should look like in the twenty first century.

Working with legends

I joined the team from a public engagement background having worked at Participation Cymru for three years. I’ve never lost the belief that public services work best when people have an opportunity to shape those services that they access. In some senses, it’s been really fascinating seeing how developments in technology have pushed that even further in recent years. Whichever sector or service you’re working in, there’ll usually be someone at an event that you’re going to who will be talking about the implications of digital for your work. And with that comes the inevitable focus on user needs that is the basis of successful digital services.

There are so many things about the job that I love, not least that it’s never failed to challenge me. That challenge has sometimes come as I’ve often been a generalist working with specialists to share their story. It’s sometimes been an intellectual challenge from social media, where this job has helped to connect me to people who are doing great things and are pushing the boundaries of what they do. And sometimes it’s been the supportive challenge of my colleagues, who are a fun and amazing bunch of people to work with. Thanks Beth, Chris and Ena, you’re legends! I’m going to miss your company and lunchtime leftover feasts.

I’m also leaving Wales, which means that I’m leaving behind an exciting time for Welsh public services and the Wales Audit Office. We’re one year in to the Wellbeing of Future Generations Act, which shapes the long term goals for Wales. As Nikhil Seth of the United Nations said, “what Wales is doing today the world will do tomorrow”. This is challenging and exciting for the Wales Audit Office too, as we grapple with what effective audit of this act looks like looks like.

Research in Practice

We’re also a year into the Social Services and Wellbeing Act, which again puts people at the heart of public service delivery. I worked with the Citizens Panel for Social Services in Wales (which was and continues to be one of the most incredible pieces of work that I’ve been involved in), which fed into the development of the act.

This experience will hopefully stand me in good stead when I begin my new role at Research in Practice as their Learning Event Co-ordinator. Research in Practice support evidence-informed practice with children and families. Here’s their Triangulation Model:

In my current role we occasionally get asked why good practice is a bad traveller (see this post by Chris Bolton for a brilliant riposte), forgetting that we’re implementing changes in tremendously complex environments. I really like how Research in Practice’s theory is grounded in practice and people’s everyday lives, and I’m excited to be a part of that.

I’m also really excited by the wide range of learning opportunities that they offer. One of our core principles at the Good Practice Exchange is that one size doesn’t fit all, so it’s great to see a project that doesn’t focus on training as the answer to all public service needs, as is often the way within the public sector. The way that they approach Change Projects in particular to identify solutions to specific challenges is fascinating.

And on a personal level, I had to cancel my interview last minute after my uncle had a heart attack to support my family. That they re-arranged the interview and gave me another opportunity speaks volumes for how people-centred they are, and I’m really looking forward to repaying them for the opportunity that they’ve given me.

Coming back to Wales

I’ll be coming back to Cardiff for GovCamp Cymru, which is the one day unconference about government and public services in Wales. I hope to catch up with a lot of you who have made my time at the Good Practice Exchange so memorable, and I look forward to catching up properly with my Wales Audit Office colleagues before I go. And thanks very much to you for reading my posts here over the last four years. I’ll continue to post on Medium, and please do stay in touch with me on Twitter so that I can stay up to date with the good things that you’re all doing.

Pob lwc with your work!