Monday, April 14, 2014

As councils face more cuts and tough choices they risk losing public trust

Trust, they say, is hard won and easily lost. If you subscribe to this adage then you’d have to accept that in recent years key public institutions in this country have been losing much more trust than they’ve been winning.

Scandals over MPs’ expenses, police conduct and NHS care have taken their toll, with indicators including the Edelman Global Trust Barometer and the British Social Attitudes Survey showing a continuing decline in the faith the public places in many public servants and the organisations they run.

You can read the full article on The Guardian website.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Supporting community-led change in Camden


Over the last decade Camden Council have commissioned a series of borough-wide surveys to understand and measure the nature and degree of social capital within their population. The third and most recent social capital survey, in 2008, suggested that on some measures residents of the Cantelowes ward scored lower than those in other parts of the borough.

To understand the community dynamics and important issues that shape life in the ward, Camden asked OPM to conduct in-depth research with residents. The project, called ‘Taking Part’, asked residents to think about how they could make a positive difference in their local area and improve the sense of community and neighbourliness.

What we did

In addition to exploring different dimensions of social capital and cohesion, we used a range of community involvement and Appreciative Inquiry interviewing approaches to draw out residents’ preferences and their capacity to take a greater role in their community.

This involved offering residents the chance to come together at a community workshop and think about the interests and concerns they have in common, as well as skills and ideas they might want to contribute, and then develop practical, inclusive and enjoyable projects that could be taken forward, with some support from OPM and the council along the way.

At the workshop residents showed much creativity and enthusiasm when exploring what might be possible, and were keen to make connections and offer their skills and time towards potential projects. In the current stage of the project, OPM is working collaboratively with residents and local community and voluntary groups to plan and carry out the most popular and workable ideas. As the project takes shape, OPM will report on the learning through a series of case studies and will develop a small suite of tools and resources to support similar interventions in other wards.


The community workshop and the very process of organising it has helped to strengthen networks and connections in the area and has galvanised community and voluntary groups and residents to tackle priority issues. Many residents involved in the process have made the transition from research participant to active citizen working to improve their area. The workshop and wider engagement has provided a ‘way in’ for residents to get more involved in their community. The process builds on the existing good work in the ward and aims to give residents the support and space to generate sustainable, fun and inclusive projects.

Learning about issues and how to achieve the best outcomes are what matter to residents. This is vital for a council that is keen to create the conditions and processes to encourage community-led change and create more cohesive neighbourhoods.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

OPM confirmed as part of team to deliver Our Place, a new DCLG neighborhood improvement scheme

OPM will work with a team led by Locality in partnership with the Local Government Association on a new DCLG scheme which will help 100 communities tackle issues at a neighbourhood level.

The Our Place initiative aims to give people more power over local services and budgets in their neighbourhoods, transforming public services by making sure that they are focused on the user, not the organisation. The Department of Communities and Local Government has made £4.3m of grants available to support at least 100 neighbourhoods across the country.

The programme will support areas working to transform local public services in three ways:

OPM will form part of an impressive team working on the project led by Locality and the LGA which also includes The Young Foundation and the Community Development Foundation.

The Our Place programme will be open to applications on 20th January 2014.  Further information about the programme, including FAQs and how to get involved will be available on the Our Place page in the New Year.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Unlocking Local Capacity

This report sets out findings from new research about what councils can do to unlock the capacity in their communities. The practical experiences quoted are those of managers from 30 councils interviewed especially for this research, up and down the country.

Unlocking Local Capacity gives a snapshot of where local authorities are now and where they are heading. It highlights some of the approaches being taken and challenges being faced, and pinpoints the practical implications for councils, their staff, their elected members and their citizens.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

The new neighbourhood army – The role of community organising in the Big Society

The Coalition Government regards community organising as a way to rebuild communities, help transfer power from the state to local people and foster community activism. Community organising, with its belief in providing local people with an independent voice, and its grass roots and local focus, is very appealing in these challenging economic times and fits with the Big Society agenda.