The event was organised by London Voluntary Service Council, Greater London Volunteering and London Funders to take forward their report The Way Ahead - Civil Society and the Heart of London.
Effective action could involve everyone from individual citizens to groups, charities, councils and business. The big challenge now is not just understanding and explaining the report, but offering ways for people to play a part.
As I wrote earlier, I'm working with LVSC on how Londoners can in future better connect with each other, engage in local activities and find support.
Drew Mackie and I will be looking at ways in which people and groups can develop their personal and community networks, using a range of methods including new technology.
We hope this will make a useful contribution to The Way Ahead - and so I was glad to join in the communications group at the event, led by Steve Wyler.
Here's notes I've transcribed from the photo report:
The group report on peer-to-peer learning was very relevant too:
The communications recommendations apply mainly to The Way Ahead programme, while peer-to-peer learning is about what happens next. In addition we had a useful discussion about the realities of day-to-day communications in community and voluntary organisations, and the need to offer a mix of methods from face-to-face through phone calls and print to online.
As well as external communications, there will first be the challenge of facilitating conversations between the five thematic groups now established:
The main recommendation in the The Way Ahead is to promote and develop co-production, by which the review team mean:
Co-production is where Londoners work with those in power, and each other, in a way in which all voices are heard equally in developing a shared understanding of need and in crafting solutions to make London a better place.
All this suggests to me that The Way Ahead will only succeed if everyone concerned - from funders to councils, groups and organisations, and citizens - can talk to each other about what's involved in making their London a better place to live.
This involves creating some communication systems that embrace new and older methods, internally and externally.
I know that The Way Ahead team will be launching a new web site, and planning other forms of communication.
At the moment The Way Ahead reports are pretty heavy pdfs, so I think a simple explainer would be a useful start, covering for example:
… which would lead to “here's what part you might play”.
At the end of the event facilitator George Gawlinski remarked that for change to happen The Way Ahead needed to be a movement.
If so, the challenge is not just how to promote the messages of The Way Ahead - but how to offer people ways to get involved, in terms that make sense to them. The event last week provided the energy and insights to do that.
** The Way Ahead report offers this definition:
“Civil society is where people take action to improve their own lives or the lives of others and act where government or the private sector don’t. Civil society is driven by the values of fairness and equality, and enables people to feel valued and to belong. It includes formal organisations such as voluntary and community organisations, informal groups of people who join together for a common purpose and individuals who take action to make their community a better place to live.”