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How would you make Boro better for the next generation?

On 22 and 23 September Kathleen Kelly, Director of Collaboration at LocalMotion – a six funder placed based collaboration who want to explore how they can better work with local places - held some feedback sessions on how local conversations about LocalMotion in Middlesbrough were shaping up. It was also a chance for local organisations to share their views.

There was a lot of energy at the three sessions with people keen to build wider networks that connected their work with others across the town, as an opportunity to share learning and ideas. And to make best use of each other’s strengths in a way that could achieve even more together.

People said that they aspired to achieve the kind of impact that would see Middlesbrough hailed as a ‘shining example of social change’. An example where the voices of people with lived experience were not just included but had a real ‘seat at the [decision making] table’.

To galvanize action people wanted solid shared priorities for the town that did not keep shifting around them, so that they could focus on uncovering the inertia that they described as resisting change and tackling it.  

Issues such as addressing poverty, creating decent jobs and opportunities, tackling racism, charities sharing spaces and increasing their financial ability to operate outside of philanthropic grants, community housing, mental health, opportunities for young people and sharing expertise were on people’s minds.

People noted that collaboration to tackle these issues could only “go at the speed of trust”. They wanted to build on the opportunity to do things differently arising from collaborative responses to the pandemic.

They said they would like more time and space together to build the kind of trust and confidence in their networks that would allow them to share, develop and test ideas together; rather than feeling like competition was necessary for organisational survival. They asked - “could funders reframe how they deliver grant making to encourage and support more collaborative developing and testing of shared ideas?”

The conversation wasn’t all about money though.

Reframing community and charities relationships with the public sector and businesses – as well as with each other, especially between bigger and smaller organisations - was felt to be key to making use of everyone’s skills. Skills that could focus together on creating shared solutions to social and related public service and business challenges.  

People were also keen to learn from across the six places where LocalMotion was testing what might be possible if funders and places worked together in a different way. They were keen to bring in learning - and potential new partners – who wanted to work with them on equal terms, on the issues that matter to people in Middlesbrough.

To achieve these building blocks of change people wanted honesty from each other about what needs to change. They described that how you do something to change things in your own approach, is just as important as changing how other people do things – we all have to recognize our role in keeping things the same and challenge ourselves to get a bit more comfortable with being uncomfortable so we can “unearth the hidden blockers” of positive change.

For everyone, the people of Middlesbrough were seen as its real strength, a strength they wanted to mobilise through local collaboration, not just in terms of achieving future social change but also in terms of celebrating the successes and good work that people are already achieving.

Kathleen is looking forward to working with people as we continue to develop and test ideas on what might be possible in Middlesbrough. You can share your ideas with Kathleen initially by emailing Kathleen.Kelly@localmotion.org.uk.


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