Walk the walk to get more impact - Diarmad Lawlor
In the lead up to COP26 Greta Thurnberg has challenged global leaders. She wants less ‘blah, blah, blah’ and more action with impact.
At a local level, these actions are about joining up often disparate activities to deliver increased impact. Solving climate change to support choices for better living shouldn’t be separated from strengthening healthy communities, or separated from supporting local work and enterprise. More effective joined up working connects big agendas in ways that are relevant to local communities.
Local sits at the heart of Scottish Government’s Covid Recovery Strategy. This sets out a vision for recovery to address systemic inequalities made worse by Covid. It seeks to strengthen progress towards a wellbeing economy, and accelerate inclusive public services with people at the heart. 20 minute places offer one route to translate this ambition into reality.
Sometimes, services are concentrated in specific places. Sometimes, services are organised from a central place feeding smaller satellites - a hub and spoke model. Most places are spokes. Bigger places feel more important. 20 minute places try to get more services more accessible for everyone using digital partnerships and new ways of working.
This is one key idea behind 20 minute neighbourhoods; making things more accessible within a walk from home. The principle is helpful. A challenge though is a tendency to focus on numbers over need. Some places are 19 minute places. Others are 30 minute places. Often, this is less helpful than whether what is available is relevant to local community needs, and whether the quality of experience in using these services is welcoming, integrated and empowering.
Focusing local services on meeting local needs is about having the right things in the right places. Doing that is about collaboration driven by a clear vision of how to better support good living. Sometime, people call this a place based approach. It is about making complexity manageable, and solutions relevant.
Scottish Government’s Place Based Investment Programme seeks invites for more place based collaboration for impact. This is supported by a five-year investment programme. And it aligns with the ambitions of Scottish Government’s Infrastructure Investment Plan to re-imagine what already exists. The Scottish Futures Trust is supporting this work by providing a clear route to make place based working manageable and meaningful.
Our ‘Place Guide’ to be published very soon is a practical, step by step approach to connecting investment for improved impact at a local level.
The process begins with a conversation focused on why we need better, more connected services in a particular place. The ‘why’ drives clarity on the ‘who’, the leaders that need to do the connecting. So, the first step is building collective leadership.
The next step is to agree a shared story of what success looks like in a more joined up, integrated way of working. This ‘Place Brief’ helps prioritise actions. This might include adapting existing spaces and places to connect services, and getting behind local collaborations with better infrastructure. This is about confirming the focus, methods and assurance of making joined up infrastructure work across organisations, across time, across agendas.
Our Place Guide acknowledges the complexity of local life. It provides a practical route to honest collaboration for better impact.
The intent of the Guide isn’t more fine words, and blah, blah, blah. It is about a realistic way to support local decision makers take joined up action.
Diarmad Lawlor, Associate Director – Place, The Scottish Futures Trust
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