We can, you can: lessons in regeneration


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Key learning points from the Renew Northwest Exemplar Learning Programme 2007. Fourteen regeneration projects in northwest England were shortlisted for this programme, and five chosen as 'exemplars' for the region. I wrote this report to highlight the behaviours needed to create successful regeneration projects. The Renew website has now been closed so I'm making the report available here.

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We can, you can: lessons in regeneration

  1. 1. RENEW Practice Paper February 2007 We can, you can Lessons from the RENEW Northwest Exemplar Learning Programme 2007 Julian Dobson editorial director New Start
  2. 2. The context ties in closely with the work of the Academy for Sustainable Communities, W hen asked about the which seeks to promote the skills historical impact of the needed to build and nurture places that French Revolution, former are physically, economically and socially Chinese premier Zhou Enlai is sustainable. reported to have replied: ‘It’s too soon Eight elements have been identified to tell.’ The contemporary approach as vital in building sustainable to evaluation is often the opposite: to communities. They are: want to know the lessons before the Governance: a sustainable event has been completed. community is well run. RENEW Northwest’s Exemplar Transport and connectivity: it is well Learning Programme aims to avoid both connected. pitfalls by taking a considered approach, Services: it is well served by public, recognising the complexities and nuances voluntary and community services. of creating sustainable communities Environment: it is environmentally while seeking to distil learning that can sensitive. be shared and applied now. Equity: it is fair for everyone. The programme, now in its third Economy: it is thriving. year, does this by encouraging peers to Housing and the built environment: it present to each other what they have is well designed and built. learned in a wide variety of projects, Social and cultural activity: it is active, from massive housing reconstruction inclusive and safe. schemes to small community-based These elements are commonly basic skills programmes. By focusing on known as the ‘Egan principles’, as they difficulties overcome and knowledge were identified in the Egan review of gained, it has been possible to draw out skills1, published by the UK government in themes applicable in a variety of arenas. 2004, and subsequent policy documents. In the 2007 They were given an international programme, 14 dimension in December 2005 through Acknowledgement schemes from the Bristol Accord of EU ministers, which across Northwest agreed the benefits of creating sustainable In compiling this report on RENEW England were communities and fostering place-making Northwest’s 2007 Exemplar Learning shortlisted skills across Europe. Programme, I am grateful for the help as potential This report seeks to identify key and observations of all the participants exemplars and themes that have emerged from all in the programme, and especially the presented their 14 shortlisted projects that will help staff of RENEW Northwest and the achievements practitioners and policymakers to apply members of the programme’s judging at a series of the Egan principles in real-life situations. panel: Pauline Davis, Stephen Gleave, three events in Charles Green, Neil McInroy and November and The exemplars Barbara McLoughlin. December 2006. T Of these, five have he following five exemplars Julian Dobson been chosen for were chosen in the 2007 Editorial director, New Start more detailed programme: follow-up over the Cover picture: Kensington Community course of 2007. Castlefields Regeneration Choir performing at Philharmonic The Exemplar Project, Runcorn Hall, Liverpool. Learning A comprehensive programme to Photographer: Leila Romaya Programme revitalise an unpopular 1970s housing 2
  3. 3. estate is beginning to nurture a new musical opportunities in one of the sense of confidence in the area, as more most disadvantaged parts of Liverpool. than 1,400 deck access flats are replaced The project is enriching the school or improved, a new park is created and curriculum and proving that music can the local centre is redeveloped. play a genuine role in regenerating a community. CommIT – Community ICT Solutions, Lancaster University Stats and Maps, Rochdale Volunteer students have helped a wide A groundbreaking internet-based range of voluntary organisations and information system allows statutory individuals, including young offenders agencies, community groups and the and people with mental health public to get detailed data about the problems, improve their information borough of Rochdale. Information that and communications technology skills. would previously have taken professional This has enabled voluntary groups to researchers hours to produce can be become more efficient and individuals accessed by anyone in minutes. to become more employable. Stockport BME Children’s Music for Life, Liverpool Project One of Britain’s top orchestras has Seven different minority ethnic joined forces with local schools and communities have come together, with a regeneration agency to provide help from Stockport’s Children’s Fund, Key points from the Exemplar Learning Programme 2007 Build on evidence but be ready to reinvent: and building relationships of trust and respect the most successful projects learn from what enables partnerships to work effectively. has gone before, but are sensitive to context. Knowledge and expertise must be adapted to We learn by reflecting: evaluation is an meet the unique challenges of places and people. essential learning process, especially when used to adjust priorities and practice during a project. We learn by listening: the programme highlighted the importance of thorough We learn by owning: when participants feel a preparation, listening to those who have been personal responsibility for a project, it generates involved in similar projects and to the concerns an energy and will to succeed that turns and aspirations of local people. obstacles into opportunities. We learn by doing: meeting and overcoming Sharing the learning is important: while some expected and unexpected challenges enables projects put systems in place at an early stage to practitioners to learn what works and what share what has been learned, others appear to doesn’t. Flexibility and pragmatism are vital to approach this as an afterthought. Learning may be success. lost unless specific provision is made. We learn by daring: the most effective The Egan principles need an underpinning projects don’t stick to the obvious. They venture ethos: the most effective and convincing projects into the unknown and set themselves challenges don’t just supply the elements of a sustainable that are beyond the call of duty. community. They reveal an ethos that marries energy and values to vital professional skills. A We learn by valuing: overcoming conflicts successful project is more than just a job. 3
  4. 4. to provide classes and resources to the Exemplar Learning Programme, help their children learn about their however, is that learning from the heritage and culture. evidence is part of the picture, not its entirety: in itself, it does not create Full details of these, and all shortlisted the drive and passion to succeed, the projects, are on the RENEW Northwest infectious enthusiasm that wins over website at www.RENEW.co.uk – go to sceptics, or the sense of value that Resource Library and click on ‘Good persuades practitioners that a job is practice case studies’. worth doing against the odds. It would be hard, too, to argue Building on evidence and that wheels should be reinvented. Yet the Exemplar Learning Programme reinventing wheels provided some examples of exactly P rofessions gather clichés and that: instances where it was felt truisms as they mature and necessary to start with a blank sheet develop. For the most part, in order to provide genuine local they are based on good sense. But ownership of a project. More often, genuine learning involves examining our it was a case of adapting the wheel: assumptions. existing good practice was used One such assumption is the and valued, but it was considered necessity of evidence-based practice. equally important to fit it to local Its opposite could be described as circumstances. Even those with reinventing the wheel: repeating work many years’ experience of multi- that has already been done hundreds million pound regeneration schemes of times. recognised that whenever learning is It would be hard to argue against applied, it is within a unique context learning from the evidence. An of place and people. The wheel has to important theme to emerge from suit the terrain. Grove Village, on the edge of Manchester city centre, is a case in “ ” It’s about us being the now point. This is a £100m programme and not just the to regenerate what used to be an unpopular and troubled housing future. estate in Ardwick, plagued by a LKC awards reputation for gun crime and empty properties. There have been many such housing programmes in the past, and the lessons learned have been well documented. Structurally, Grove Village was different because it was one of the first private finance initiatives in housing, but the difficulties faced and solutions applied were familiar. Grove Village demonstrates how successful regeneration combines both learning from evidence and an element of reinventing the wheel. The team leading the project, which included Harvest Housing 4
  5. 5. Group, Manchester City Council and developers Gleeson, had vast experience of housing redevelopment; yet they said one of the key lessons was to listen to the community, support local residents and adapt the scheme to suit residents’ needs. Ian Perry, chief executive of Harvest Housing Group, explained what this meant in practice: ‘We set out the big idea and we had the vision of what it needed to be, but how to do that we didn’t really know. The detail of what we have done actually came from the people who live there. ‘We turned ideas into reality It’s nearly four years since we “ ” with the residents. We can provide the building blocks but they have to started bidding for money. be put together differently in every community. Every community will Without the dedication from want the shape to be different. You us as individuals and resources can’t take Grove Village as a solution from our organisations the project and plonk it somewhere else.’ One project did appear to have set could easily have stalled. out consciously to reinvent the wheel. East Manchester Home Front This was the LKC Awards, a scheme to celebrate the achievements of young people in the Lower Kersal and officials, and I think this meant they Charlestown area of Salford, which is did not receive the recognition that home to a new deal for communities they deserved.’ initiative. Taking time to look at the Here the award scheme was successes and lessons of other facilitated by a youth worker, but youth award schemes might have effectively started with a blank sheet encouraged a different approach. On in order to give local young people the other hand, it might also have a full sense of ownership. While diluted local youngsters’ belief that it proved highly successful in this they were genuinely in control. respect, it was clear that after the What emerges from the assembled event the young people involved had experiences of the shortlisted second thoughts about some of their projects is the magnitude of context. decisions. Our exemplars cannot be cloned; but Hannah Peake, the youth worker, their experience can be applied and said: ‘The group made a decision adapted in new situations. not to involve children under the The rest of this report examines in age of 11 and in some ways I feel more detail the types of learning that that this was a missed opportunity have emerged from the programme, to recognise that children also get and may be applied in other contexts involved in the community. They also in the task of creating sustainable chose not to invite parents or any communities. 5
  6. 6. Learning by listening: preparing community groups and the public to the ground get detailed data about the borough of Rochdale – crime statistics, educational A common characteristic of information, or details of local services. the shortlisted projects was Users can tailor the information to a willingness to learn right their own neighbourhood or area from the start. Many stressed the value of interest, and staff from Rochdale of effective preparation, and some Metropolitan Borough Council train pointed to the pitfalls of acting without community groups to use the system. sufficient groundwork. While the concept of Stats and This learning took two principal Maps is simple, its execution was forms: learning from outside, through complex. Data had to be gathered from visits to similar schemes or knowledge a wide range of agencies, which needed of relevant work done elsewhere; to be satisfied that the information and learning from inside, through would not be compromised. A conversation and negotiation with technical solution had to be found project partners and stakeholders. to enable users to view information By garnering this knowledge, clearly in a format that suited their projects built the ability and confidence requirements. Data must be constantly to set clear and realistic objectives and reviewed to ensure it is up to date. gained a clarity about the strategies and Information specialists working for skills needed to achieve them. statutory agencies took part in five Stats and Maps is a striking example months of exploratory discussions of thorough preparation. Stats and and fact-finding before the project Maps is an internet-based information became a formal entity. Recognising system that allows statutory agencies, that a high level of technical expertise was required, tenders were invited to set up and test the Stats and Maps website. The site was established in 2004, but tested further with users and developed over the following two years. Even with such extensive preparation, Stats and Maps has not been glitch-free. In fact it was a victim of its success: usage was so high that the system became overloaded, and further work has been necessary to improve the site’s stability and speed. While Stats and Maps shows the value of internal learning, the One of our huge restoration of Castle Park House “ ” in Frodsham, Cheshire, shows how hurdles was external learning plays its part too. A showing that while decaying former mansion house, given we are a very to the town of Frodsham in 1933, has been revived as a community large university, there was a genuine ethos hub, bringing together local services, of giving something back to the community. business space and training facilities. The scheme was led by Frodsham CommIT Forward, a market town regeneration 6
  7. 7. All we ask is a slightly “ different way of working. All we ask is a little bit of a change in mindset. ” Families Learning and Employment Programme (FLEP) project, in partnership with Vale Royal agencies and the people the project is Borough Council. What looks at intended to benefit. first glance like a traditional building The shortlisted projects restoration project proved remarkably demonstrated this practical learning in intricate, involving detailed negotiations abundance. Many of them learned the with service providers and the Charity importance of creating effective teams, Commission, and permission from having personnel with the required the secretary of state to alter a listed skills and seniority in place at an early structure. stage. Others learned how to juggle The project’s organisers did different funding streams, meeting two things at the start: they held an different deadlines and requirements extensive consultation to listen to while spending the money as local residents; and they visited similar effectively as possible. schemes elsewhere to learn about For others, the practical lessons what had worked and what hadn’t. were to do with ensuring the ‘We learned lessons before setting engagement of local people, meeting out,’ said Anne Boyd, market towns their aspirations without creating project manager at Vale Royal. ‘It wasn’t unrealistic expectations. about meeting the demands of the The Castlefields Regeneration community or anyone else, but looking Project in Runcorn is a good example for everybody round the table to gain. of this learning by doing. The £63m The community have had their asset project to revive a run-down 1970s restored.The council can deliver services housing estate involved more than that are appropriate to community 50 individual projects, replacing or needs, and partners are seeing increased improving more than 1,400 deck- participation in services.’ access flats, and the creation of a new community park on the site of a Learning by doing: practicalities former school. The project began with a detailed and pragmatism masterplan setting out how the estate would look at the end of the process. T he ability to think and rethink But as the partner agencies listened on your feet without losing to local people, examined how each sight of your objective is a element could be delivered and prerequisite for successful project balanced resources, it became clear that management. In the complex field of the masterplan had to be adapted as sustainable communities, that must be the scheme progressed. done while satisfying partners, funding ‘Local knowledge and understanding 7
  8. 8. a catalyst to improve residents’ skills, health and education. This demanded close liaison with a wide range of partner agencies, detailed financial management and a strong rapport with the local community. ‘Applying to eight organisations each with different agendas, application processes, timescales and outputs was difficult to say the least,’ the organisers admitted. Working with police, sports, health We make and education specialists has demanded “” sure students a high degree of adaptability. A year before building work was due to begin, are getting plans had to be redrawn on the advice a genuine of the police architect so that the experience of a draughty church hall on a sports village could meet ‘secured by design’ principles. Tuesday night. People are not getting last year’s Because the project was a flagship lesson plans out – it’s what’s happened today scheme for the Football Association, in their life. there was inevitably a strong emphasis on football as the main sport on offer. Compass Regeneration Academy The sports village is now beginning to offer a wider range of sporting activities to cater for other interests. of the area proved very useful, often helping to foresee how some of the Learning by daring: taking conceptual elements of the masterplan might be difficult to implement on the risks, reaping rewards ground,’ said Derek Sutton, operational director at Halton Borough Council, T he most effective and the lead organisation in the partnership. impressive projects don’t stop ‘Through extensive consultation at the obvious. They have an events with both internal and external energy and a desire to generate change partners, the partnership was able to that leads them to take risks. The prize harness this knowledge and use it to of success counts for more than the help adapt the masterplan.’ fear of failure. Similarly, budgets and timescales In setting themselves tough challenges, had to be constantly reviewed, the shortlisted projects entered as changes in one element of the unknown territory, seeking to stretch scheme had knock-on effects on beyond simply transferring best practice another. Throughout this process the from elsewhere. A common theme was partnership learned to keep local the ability to see outcomes rather than people informed, and learned to outputs: to focus on the bigger picture promise only what could be delivered. without putting fences around the Salford Sports Village, similarly, possibilities. demonstrates the need for flexibility. While all showed some risk-taking, The aim was not just to provide a new it was noteworthy that two of the sports centre in the Lower Kersal and schemes that were most prepared Charlestown area, but to use sport as to take risks came from outside the 8
  9. 9. traditional regeneration professions. “ ” Music for Life stemmed from One of the first the desire of the Royal Liverpool things we did over Philharmonic Orchestra to make a 12 months was difference on its doorstep. The contrast between an internationally-renowned to build honest orchestra and the level of musical relationships and a bond of trust. activity in nearby Kensington was West Cumbria Social Enterprise Hub striking. To bridge the gap Music for Life was created, a five-year project to bring musical education to local schools and to involve the community in the orchestra’s programmes. Kensington is a new deal for communities area, with all the problems that qualify a deprived area for new deal funding. Poor housing, low educational attainment and limited job prospects all loomed higher on the agenda than cultural activities. To use music as a force for regeneration seemed to some irrelevant at best, self- indulgent at worst. As Judith Agnew from the Philharmonic explained: ‘We suffered While these might not be the results from an attitude that classical music a regeneration agency normally looks is elitist and this was just an audience for, the ripple effects are significant. development exercise. By us saying we One head teacher, Charles Daniels at would be working for at least five years, Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School, working every week with the children, reported that pupils’ behaviour had we could use pester power from the been transformed since the start of children – “come and see me perform”. Music for Life. We were totally frank about how Two Ofsted inspection reports committed we were to being there.’ have mentioned the impact of Music There are now some 60 children at for Life; attendance at four of the five five primary schools learning musical schools has improved; and key stage 2 instruments, and many have continued results in maths, science and English are their interest into secondary education. markedly better. Adults, too, have got “ People think going through the pouring rain night after night, is it worth it? A lot of people fell by the wayside, but others came in. As soon as we got financial close and contractual close a lot of people started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Grove Village 9
  10. 10. involved, with a growing number joining which makes them more employable; a community choir. community groups and their users CommIT – the Community ICT learn how to use technology and apply Solutions project run by Lancaster it to their needs, and reach a stage University Volunteering Unit – is where they can take part in formal another example of daring to reach accredited learning. beyond the obvious. Again, this initiative came from an organisation that is not Learning by valuing: building part of the usual matrix of sustainable communities professions and was trust, resolving conflicts under no statutory or contractual obligation to devote the time and effort T he need to build relationships needed to make the idea work. of respect and honesty, to The idea behind CommIT is that overcome negative perceptions students at Lancaster University and assumptions, and to resolve use their computer skills to help conflicts equitably was a strong theme community groups. This has involved of several shortlisted projects. assessing the needs of voluntary Participants learned how to organisations, brokering partnerships value each others’ aspirations and between students and community contributions, and as this mutual respect groups, and working with mental health grew, they learned much about working service users and young offenders. together and resolving difficulties. Working through Blackpool Council While much material exists on how for Voluntary Services, the university to form partnerships – negotiation teamed up with 20 community skills, ideal legal structures and so on organisations to conduct a ‘healthcheck’ – it is clear that much of the learning of their ICT needs. about effective partnership takes place The scheme works because there in situ, as individuals and organisations is a bedrock of mutual benefit. The discover how to work together. student volunteers learn about working Effective facilitation can help to breed with communities and applying their empathy and understanding. knowledge in practical contexts, The Stockport BME Children’s Project demonstrates how such relationships can be built and how “ members of a partnership can learn how to overcome difficulties. The project was designed to tackle the lack of culturally relevant education We want to for black and minority ethnic children in Stockport, a borough with a large white be looking majority. It aimed to enable children into the future to learn about their own culture, with and looking at tutors from their own communities. Instead of working separately with each where change might be happening. People come community, Stockport Metropolitan to us and want bits of data and Borough Council’s community we try to challenge them to development team brought several minority groups together to agree think about what it means. a consistent approach, and provided Stats and Maps support where there was a lack of 10
  11. 11. community infrastructure: a Chinese ” group was established to enable children of Chinese background to benefit from the programme. The different community groups learned to work together for the first time, and for many it was also The budget their first experience of a long-term needed to partnership with a statutory agency. be bent quite But almost immediately the project faced a major challenge, when funding significantly, so was reduced from £78,000 in 2005 to we did. Some £45,000 in 2006. bean counter ‘Our greatest fear was the groups would lose solidarity and start fighting said it didn’t say over their share of the budget,’ said anything about Phoebe Spence, a member of the buses in the community development team at project budget, so the partners “ Stockport Metropolitan Borough Council. ‘That’s what happened at our first creatively decided to ignore him. meeting. Each came in and started Dig Manchester pitching against each other. At the second meeting the groups presented to each other the value of what they The advice service was contracted did, and what would happen if they had out to a specialist company, Co- to cut. It then became very difficult operative and Mutual Solutions (CMS), with the empathy that was there for which then had to convince local groups to be cruel to each other and enterprises that it was there to help take a bigger share of funding.’ and not to steal their business. Similarly, By learning to face this challenge in CMS had to persuade individual social a mutually supportive way, groups built enterprises that they could work respect for each other and ensured the together without threatening each project could survive and flourish. other’s livelihoods. Several of the other shortlisted ‘We have gone out of our way to projects had to resolve conflicts or establish relationships between social overcome scepticism to reach a stage enterprises,’ CMS director Gareth where their ideas and proposals were Nash said. ‘I think that’s key because we valued and acted on. Castle Park won’t be here for ever.’ House in Frodsham had to deal with political opposition; the LKC Awards Learning by reflecting: the team had to convince funding agencies that young people could be trusted to importance of evaluation stage an event. E Relationships of trust have been vital valuation is a formal element to the progress of the West Cumbria of most larger regeneration Social Enterprise Hub. The hub provides projects, and substantial budgets advice and support to fledgeling social are often set aside for it. Smaller enterprises, many of which were initiatives frequently take a more struggling to make the transition from informal approach, with less rigorous charities to sustainable businesses. gathering of information. In all cases, 11
  12. 12. “ The most important thing we learned was to have the ability to change the masterplan ” and be more flexible and adapt. Castlefields however, the importance of stepping learning transferable lessons is the way back and considering what has been two of the shortlisted projects used achieved cannot be underestimated. evaluation to rethink and refocus their The shortlisted projects in the work while it was still in progress. Exemplar Learning Programme East Manchester Home Front is showed a range of approaches, from a small-scale project that involves independent monitoring and analysis to residents in the area’s regeneration relatively brief post-event assessments. through short ‘taster’ courses The Families Learning for on practical DIY and gardening, Employment Programme (FLEP), encouraging them to develop literacy a national pilot scheme based in and numeracy skills and support local Wythenshawe, south Manchester, regeneration projects. Some residents shows one such approach.This scheme have progressed to more advanced aims to improve parents’ employability construction skills training. by involving them in their children’s While the sessions were popular, a education, and links a wide range of formal evaluation after the first round of agencies that share similar objectives. courses showed that the training in basic It is being monitored closely by the skills could be improved. The steering Department for Communities and group took the decision to change the Local Government, via an evaluation trainer; while this was a tough choice, team from KPMG. Detailed statistics are there was a clear improvement in quality being gathered about who is benefiting as a result. from the programme and how. Compass Regeneration Academy Perhaps more significant in terms of is a much larger project: housing Our biggest failing “ was not realising how good the scheme was – it took a while for the penny to drop. The project is so good we would move anything to make room for it. Music for Life 12
  13. 13. organisations across Merseyside have people took part in the excavation joined forces to train the ‘stars of of Northenden Mill over four weeks tomorrow’ to plug skills gaps in their in the summer of 2006, and the workforce.The academy has a strong excitement and involvement was emphasis on practical learning, but shared among children, older people, because the organisers were venturing schools, university staff, artists and into new territory they arranged a regeneration professionals. formal evaluation of the first phase by a team from the University of Manchester. “ The evaluation resulted in several significant changes. The course was shortened; more emphasis was placed on practical work; and access was extended to non-graduates. The course There are no now leads to a formal qualification magic solutions through the City and Guilds Institute of to this work, but Management and Leadership. there are magic Learning by owning: a personal ingredients, passion to succeed and the first is starting from what O wnership is a word that is the community wants for itself. ” often used loosely: it can suggest close involvement without actually committing anybody to Stockport BME Children’s anything. Genuine ownership involves Project taking responsibility, going the extra mile, being unwilling to countenance The sense that ‘this is about us’ was failure. Ownership says, in a nutshell, heightened by the contrast between ‘this is about me’. the participants’ enthusiasm about Such ownership can occur in discovering their heritage and the poor projects created and led by statutory reputation of Wythenshawe among organisations, but seldom grows the wider public. Dig Manchester without the close involvement of challenged that reputation and fostered the local community or a project’s local pride. Now that the dig is over, an intended beneficiaries. Ownership is online heritage trail has been created sometimes learned, but is more often a for Wythenshawe and links have been catalyst for learning. forged with a local history group. Most of the shortlisted projects, and The local ownership of the project especially the five selected exemplars, was also seen in a ‘can do’ approach to displayed such ownership. Participants funding: when the partners realised the were determined to make things budget needed to be ‘bent significantly’ happen because success or failure to pay for transport from schools to the mattered to them personally. excavation site, they just got on with it. Dig Manchester, a community This ‘it’s about us’ dimension was archaeology project based in also central to the impact of the Wythenshawe in the south of the city, Stockport BME Children’s Project: the showed that ownership is not the different community groups involved felt preserve of a select few. Nearly 1,200 so strongly about the need for children 13
  14. 14. – FLEP, Grove Village and Salford Sports It wasn’t about Village – and here delegations from meeting the outside have been welcomed and there is an assumption that achievements demands of will be shared. Support from national the community government or institutions provides an or anyone else, opportunity for experience to feed into the development of policy and practice. but looking Compass Regeneration Academy for everybody and Stats and Maps are examples of round the table schemes where continuity is intended. What is learned is then applied to the “” to gain. future development of the project; this Castle Park also gives outsiders a chance to learn House from what has been achieved. East Manchester Home Front and CommIT are schemes that aim to to discover their heritage that they take people to a particular stage: they determined the scheme would succeed provide training in practical skills that even when faced with funding cuts. enable people to progress into more Ownership was also demonstrated formal education. In both cases the through strong lines of accountability: end is the beginning of something else. the tutors were employed by Here, though, the extent to which Stockport Metropolitan Borough learning can be shared depends to a Council, but reported first of all to great degree on the ability of the next community representatives. agency down the line to identify and use what has been learned. Sharing the learning: how to There is a final group of projects where there is no obvious strategy pool the knowledge for sharing the learning. This doesn’t S ome projects are better than mean learning is not passed on: others at identifying what they the enthusiasm to take part in the have learned and passing it on. In Exemplar Learning Programme itself time-limited schemes, sharing learning reveals a desire to share experience. is often not a priority: evaluations But projects like the LKC Awards concentrate on outputs achieved and and Castle Park House do not seem targets hit rather than pinpointing what to have factored this sharing into can be replicated. their initial costs and programmes, Three positive approaches can be so it appears to have happened as a seen in the projects shortlisted for the result of the schemes’ success. Sharing Exemplar Learning Programme. These lessons can be low on the agenda are integrated learning, where provision when the first priority is to make is made at the start for lessons to be something happen. Often a project has shared; continuity, where learning can to achieve first in order to convince be built into future development; and others that the work has been handover, where the achievements of worthwhile. Such learning is fragile and one project are handed on to another easily lost. agency to take forward. There is scope for improving the Some of the shortlisted projects way learning is shared by embedding it were set up as pilots or exemplars within time-limited projects. This calls 14
  15. 15. for a recognition of the value of shared the judging panel for the Exemplar Reference 1 learning by funding agencies and key Learning Programme were those that The Egan staff: recording and communicating demonstrated this energy. One of Review: Skills learning needs to be built into budgets the panel referred to the ‘imagination for Sustainable and project management. That is not and creativity and risk’ of the Communities always easy when funds are tight, staff applicants; another commented on the http://www. are working flat out to get a project ‘commitment, enthusiasm and passion communities. going, and the benefits may not be felt and goodwill from the community right gov.uk/index. by the project’s target clientele. through to the professionals.’ Another asp?id=1502285 praised the problem-solving approach: From Egan to ethos ‘People who are flexible and able to face the issue and find a solution are T he learning we have observed like gold dust.’ among the 14 shortlisted The recurring theme of the five projects can be divided into selected exemplars is that ‘we can’: we two broad categories. can make music; we can create a place In the first basket are the we want to live in; we can celebrate assessment and observation that our culture; we can teach and learn take place at the start of a project; new skills; we can use information the experience of undertaking it; effectively to improve our town. The and the evaluation as it proceeds central lesson of the Exemplar Learning and concludes. These processes help Programme is that others can, too. identify skills that are needed, test them in practice and embed them in future activity. They are the specialist and generic skills identified by Egan as being in short supply and in need of nurturing throughout the professions working for sustainable communities. The second basket contains the qualities that are needed for the job and learned on it: ownership of the project, valuing people and resolving conflicts, taking risks in pursuit of a greater gain. These qualities are closely associated with the generic skills of leadership, negotiation and communication. Together they point to the ethos at From day one our motto “ the heart of a successful project. An ethos is more than a set of skills: it is a was: it’s not just about bricks driving force that embodies values and principles that give a project energy and mortar. We have a shiny and the ability to surmount obstacles. new £5m building with lovely To put it another way, the ethos wooden floors and art on the is what binds the Egan principles together and generates the walls, but that’s not what it’s necessary drive to create sustainable about. It’s about people. communities in challenging contexts. Salford Sports Village The projects that most impressed 15
  16. 16. RENEW Northwest is the Regional Centre of Excellence for Sustainable Communities.We develop dynamic and responsive learning opportunities to provide practitioners with the skills and knowledge required to deliver sustainable communities. One of our major aims is to gather good practice and help to make it accessible to all in a way that promotes learning and helps others to benefit from the experience gained. The RENEW Northwest Exemplar Learning Programme aims to do just that – identify and showcase examples of good practice in sustainable communities throughout the Northwest. The programme facilitates the sharing of knowledge and learning through celebrating examples of projects where those involved have worked together to: Learn from experience and change practice as a result Find innovative ways of overcoming barriers Provide inclusive leadership to all who need to be involved Create inclusive partnerships or project teams Use evaluation or experience to modify practice Successfully ensure that the project is sustainable This publication sets out the lessons derived from the 2007 Programme. Summaries of the individual projects and further information about the Exemplar Learning Programme 2007 are available on the RENEW Northwest website at www.RENEW.co.uk We welcome feedback to info@RENEW.co.uk RENEW Rooms The Tea Factory, 82 Wood Street Liverpool L1 4DQ Tel: +44 (0)151 703 0135 Fax: +44 (0)151 703 0136 Email: info@RENEW.co.uk Web: www.RENEW.co.uk This publication was researched and written by Julian Dobson and designed by Chris McCarthy for NS+ Ltd, www.nsplus.co.uk, tel: 0114 229 5726. Supported by