To encourage and promote innovation, we will curate a programme of thought leadership for the Centre, as well as developing ways of identifying and promoting best practice across the community investment sector.
Housing associations are already showing leadership in a number of areas in the community space, for example, in supporting place-based initiatives or in social investment. We want the Centre to give people the opportunities and forums to explore how they can take community investment initiatives and projects to the next level.
We expect this particular pillar to focus on those areas where there is the greatest potential for innovation – around people, place and digital. We want the Centre to explore the key considerations and opportunities for housing associations to be able to deliver real innovation around customer support in the light of new technology and digital transformation. We will be able to link this with some of HACT’s other work, for example, the HACT LaunchPad and the thought leadership we promote through HACT Health.
What about best practice? How can the Centre identify and promote best practice across the sector?
We perceive the Centre approaching best practice in a number of ways. We will encourage people to share their work and insights at events, celebrating the best examples, and learning from the experiences of those who are working in communities. We will also produce case studies and videos that can be promoted via the site.
Another option is for the site to enable people to arrange and make visits to colleagues who are working on similar initiatives and are willing to share their experiences. There may be other tools that you think might be useful to have: what support, advice or practical tools, would you like to have got before you embarked on your latest initiative?
We understand that many community investment professionals have limited resources, so we need to think about how we best interact with them in order to gather these examples of best practice, and facilitate information sharing across the sector.
Innovation is a key part of the work of community investment professionals. In some cases, it might be that there is a digital idea that can facilitate delivery. In other cases, there might be a tried and tested methodology that can’t be improved.
We want the Centre to become the place community investment professionals turn to when they are planning, or delivering, a project, so they can identify innovative ways of working and be inspired by examples of best practice.
We want the Centre to be a collaboration space, so that we can innovate new ideas and new ways of working together. By testing new ideas across different communities, we will be able to problem solve together, and then share our insights and spread the lessons of innovation more effectively.
The second pillar will help community investment to learn from best practice and innovation to deliver real impact across the UK.