Where next for localism and co-production?

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On 15 March 2012, Involve co-hosted with Consumer Focus a seminar exploring ‘where next for localism and co-production?’ The event brought together a group of 27 individuals from national government, local government, the voluntary and community sector, the social innovation field, academia and think tanks to explore some of the challenges and opportunities for localism and co-production in the coming years.

As well as some case studies of localism and co-production being put into action, the seminar drew upon two pieces of research:

  • Pathways through Participation, and
  • Hands Up and Hands On’ – a new research report, launched at the event, by Consumer Focus.

The ‘Hands Up and Hands On’ research explores citizens’ attitudes towards greater localism and their appetite for greater involvement. The findings provide some reasons to be optimistic, with a sizeable number of people (28%) saying they’d like to have more input into local services. But it also highlights the need to understand and acknowledge how this differs across communities and be realistic about what the level of involvement is that people want.

It’s findings on why people do and do not get involved are strikingly consistent in many respects with our Pathways through Participation findings. For example, it too found the importance of ‘personal connection to an issue’, ‘social connection to others who are involved’ and ‘circumstances’ to involvement being triggered.

In terms of why people are not contributing more, it picks out five reasons:

  • They don’t know about opportunities – at best only 1 in 6 people felt well-informed about existing opportunities, and in some instances that fell to 1 in 10.
  • They don’t have the time – this is compounded by the concern that they’ll be drawn into doing more than they want.
  • They don’t have faith in local authorities – they feel disempowered from engaging with local government structures and don’t feel they have a voice.
  • They don’t want to participate with the “usual suspects” – they are concerned about cliques who forward their own views rather than engaging in others.
  • They don’t believe that their involvement will make a difference – perhaps because of a previous unsuccessful experience.

The ‘Hands Up and Hands On’ report is well worth a read and can be found here: http://www.consumerfocus.org.uk/publications/hands-up-and-hands-on-understanding-the-new-opportunities-for-localism.

A report of the ‘Where next for localism and co-production’ seminar can be found here: http://wherenextlocalism.posterous.com/

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