The view from Bristol
By Barry Malki, Head of Communities, HACT
We wrapped up our tour of Centre for Excellence Roadshows in Bristol last week, at the rather brilliant Armada Rooms. The conversation was lively with attendees coming from as far apart as Plymouth and Newcastle, and it was nice to see a few familiar faces.
What has been interesting about the whole roadshow process is divining the differences and similarities inherent amongst communities teams across the UK. Sometimes there have been stark, highly localised differences, particularly around the political climate in each country; devolution being a critical issue around how organisations engage with and support their residents. There were striking similarities too, particularly the relationship between the community teams and the rest of their organisation. There is a wide-spread feeling that community investment is not fully understood by senior management and Boards in terms of its impact and consequence.
Much of the feedback from the different sessions was around standardisation of impact measurement and reporting. This is something HACT has been working towards for a long time, defining ways to capture impact, but there is still work to be done.
One of the most exciting (and common) suggestions has been about live case studies and site visits. There seems to be a real desire for people to get out and see how things are done elsewhere, taking away good practice, and learning from failures. Peer-to-peer mentoring also factored significantly in the feedback from the sessions, and this is something we are keen to develop, as there is significant value to gain from speaking to people with more experience, or even simply different experience than our own. I definitely have things I can learn, and I also have things I can share. There is only so much you can truly gain from a slick annual community investment report, designed to celebrate the positives. It would be far more valuable to be able to get a warts-and-all understanding of the process behind those successes.
The roadshows have been great fun, and we have loved going around the country and engaging with our peers about something we are passionate about and deeply committed to. If you were unable to make it to one of the sessions, there is still an opportunity to have your say by completing this survey. We are currently in the process of developing The Centre to meet the needs of the members, but this will always be a flexible and iterative exercise, and we will constantly be seeking feedback to get things right.