Page 1

The Birmingham  Partnership     Creating  a  new  narrative  for  Birmingham     1   Introduction     This  purpose  of  this  paper  is  to  summarise  the  case  for  an  over-­‐arching  partnership  for   Birmingham  that  supports  the  development  of    a  broadly  based  leadership  model,  enables   better  creative  connections  between  the  numerous  existing  partnerships  and  supports  the   development  of  a  positive  narrative  for  Birmingham.  It  has  been  produced  to  inform  the   thinking  of  an  informal  working  group,  chaired  by  the  Director  of  Public  Health  and  drawn   from  the  Chamber  of  Commerce,  Birmingham  Education  Partnership,  Birmingham  Children’s   Hospital,  Aston  University,  Birmingham  City  University  and  the  University  of  Birmingham,   Birmingham  Council  for  Voluntary  Service  and  Birmingham  City  Council.  


Current context  

2.1 Local       The  Kerslake  report  recommended  the  development  of  a  new  approach  to  city-­‐wide   leadership.      Following  publication  of  the  report,  a  number  of  public  debates  were  held,   organised  by  NewsinBrum  and  facilitated  and  hosted  by  Birmingham  City  University  and  the   University  of  Birmingham.    The  high  level  of  engagement  with  these  debates,  both  through   the  events  and  social  media,  demonstrated  enthusiasm  and  commitment  from  a  wide  range   of  stakeholders  in  the  city,  to  work  together  for  the  good  of  the  city.  Responses  and   perspectives  were  diverse  and  varied  but  number  of  clear  key  themes  emerged;     • The  need  for  more  collective  leadership  across  the  public,  private  and  community   sectors,  underpinned  by  mutual  trust.   • Acknowledgement  that  Birmingham  has  a  great  deal  to  be  proud  of  as  well  as   significant  challenges.   • The  wish  to  focus  on  the  positives  rather  than  to  be  constantly  re-­‐iterating  the   challenges.   • The  importance  of  ensuring  that  any  new  leadership  approach  is  diverse  and   inclusive  and  informed  by  continuing  dialogue.           1

2.2 National     England  has  one  of  the  most  centralised  forms  of  government  in  the  world.  In  recent  years  a   number  of  new  approaches  to  devolving  power  and  resources  have  been  introduced,   focusing  on  cities,  for  example  City  Deals,  although  they  have  been  top  down,  piecemeal,   competitive  and  conditional.    The  current  policy  focus  on  Combined  Authorities,  formal   alliances  between  councils  to  work  together  and  pool  resources,    provides  opportunities  for   local  areas  to  gain  collective  control  of  resources  devolved  by  central  government  to  meet   major  challenges,  including  skills,  transport  and  health.    Although  still  essentially  top  down   and  conditional,  Combined  Authorities  do  provide  some  new  opportunities  to  improve  the   lives  of  the  people  of  Birmingham  and  the  wider  West  Midlands.         However  the  Birmingham  Partnership  develops,  it  will  need  to  be  outward  focused  and   support  wider  collaboration  across  the  region.  


Aims of  The  Birmingham  Partnership  

The  Birmingham  Partnership  will  have  as  its  primary  objective  the  development  of  a  positive   shared  vision  for  Birmingham  and  an  understanding  of  how  individual  stakeholders  can   contribute  to  its  achievement.       The  group  will  provide  an  informal  forum  to  bring  a  wide  range  of  stakeholders  together.  It   will  support  innovation  by  increasing  understanding  of  the  current  and  potential   contributions  of  those  stakeholders.     The  group  will  support  the  development  of  a  new  Birmingham  story  by  inviting  the   involvement  in  its  work  of  key  influencers  such  as  business  leaders,  and  MP’s  and  others   that  have  regular  and  important  opportunities  to  raise  awareness  of  Birmingham  externally.     Key  objectives:     • Developing  a  shared  vision  for  what  Birmingham  could  and  should  be   • Prioritising  actions  necessary  to  deliver  this  vision   • Identifying  how  sectors  and  organisations  themselves  can  contribute  directly  to  the   delivery  of  the  vision,  and  to  complement  the  activities  of  the  City  Council   • Building  self-­‐belief  and  confidence  in  our  ability  to  deliver  this  vision   • Improving  the  external  reputation  of  the  civic  and  wider  leadership      

4 Creating a  new  narrative  

Much   of   the   discourse   about   places   and   their   people   is   expressed   in   terms   of   narratives.     Narratives  help  us  to  make  sense  of  complex  scenarios  without  losing  sight  of  the  intrinsic   complexity  which  arises  from  the  way  in  which  narratives  are  developed  and  layered  over   time.     2

Many of  the  current  narratives  about  Birmingham  have  their  roots  in  the  past,  for  example,   that  Birmingham’s  schools  are  failing,  when  they  are  not  or  that  the  city  is  riven  with  racial   tension,  which  it  is  not.    Narratives  accrete  over  long  periods  of  time  but  it  is  possible  to   replace  negative  narratives  with  positive  ones.     Narratives  also  underpin  many  of  the  relationships  between  public  services  in  Birmingham   and  its  residents.    Reshaping  these  relationships  is  key  to  developing  more  relevant  and   positive  narratives  about  the  city.    Paternalism,  where  local  government    and  other  agencies   stand  over  the  people,  was  the  dominant  narrative  in  public  services  for  many  centuries.   Consumerism,  which  became  prevalent  from  the  1980’s  onwards,  underpinned  the   provision  of  services  for  a  passive  population.    In  recent  years  the  combination  of  a  number   of  major  social  changes,  including  austerity  and  the  growth  of  social  media,  has  led  to  the   development  of  a  new  citizenship  narrative,  where  public  services  work  with  people  to  co-­‐ produce  better  outcomes.    The  citizenship  narrative  and  the  active  involvement  of  local   people  is  a  vital  part  of  the  creation  of  an  over-­‐arching  positive  narrative  for  Birmingham.    


Stakeholder mapping  and  analysis  

Birmingham’s size  and  the  diversity  of  those  who  live  and  work  in  the  city  is  a  great   strength.  However,  there  are  challenges  when  seeking  to  strengthen  pan-­‐City  leadership.     The  sheer  variety  and  number  of  sectors  and  interest  groups  means  that  engagement  will   need  to  be  well  planned  and    as  inclusive  as  possible.     Key  stakeholders  include:     • Business  leaders  in;     Cultural/Creative   Advanced  engineering   Business  and  Professional  Services   Logistics   Automotive   Aerospace   Digital     Faith  groups   Voluntary  sector  organisations   Social  Enterprise   Housing   Schools,  Colleges  and  Universities   Organisations  involved  in  sport     o o o o o o o

• • • • • • •

Statutory services   o Health  –  GPs,  CCGs,  community  services,  hospitals   o Police   3

o Fire and  Rescue  

• •

• •

Birmingham  City  Council  members  and  officers   Close  neighbours  -­‐  key  colleagues  from  Black  Country,  Solihull  and  Coventry  (to  build   on  the  Combined  Authority  thinking  and  to  demonstrate  Birmingham’s  enthusiasm   for  a  shared  leadership  model  for  the  West  Midlands)   MP’s  and  MEP’s   Central  Government  departments  e.g.  DfE,  DWP,  BIS,  DCLG  

It  is  important  to  remember  all  stakeholders  will  have  different  degrees  of  power  and   interest  in  relation  to  particular  topics  or  issues.    Not  all  stakeholders  wish  to  be  involved  or   to  contribute  in  the  same  way.    A  stakeholder  analysis  will  be  undertaken  to  identify  who   has  the  highest  levels  of  interest,  for  example,  because  of  the  impact  of  an  issue  on  their   lives  and  who  has  the  power  to  make  things  happen.    Power  may  lie  in  control  of  resources,   influence  over  those  who  do  have  the  resources  or  in  the  ability  to  mobilise  other  assets  and   community  capacity.        


Planning effective  engagement  and  communication  

In  order  to  engage  the  widest-­‐possible  number  of  stakeholders  and  secure  their   contribution  and  commitment  to  being  part  of  The  Birmingham  Partnership,  we  will   undertake  some  careful  preparatory  work,  including;   o Refining  the  questions  and  themes  for  Birmingham   o The  widest  possible  range  of  stakeholders  is  identified   o That  initial  discussions  are  held  with  key  stakeholder  organisations  to  inform   them  of  the  purpose  of  The  Birmingham  Partnership  and  encourage  them  to   become  involved  in  an  initial  summit  during  the  summer    



Engagement is  the  life-­‐blood  of  accountability  and  is  essential  to  the  creation  of  a  positive   narrative  and  a  more  inclusive  leadership  model  for  Birmingham.    Effective  engagement  is   underpinned  by  five  critical  success  factors:     Commitment  to  engaging  widely  and  to  listening  to  a  wide  range  of  views,  including  those   which  challenge  entrenched  power  relationships  and  fixed  perceptions  about  the  challenges     and  opportunities  for  Birmingham.     Communities   of   individuals   and   groups   identify   themselves   in   different   ways   from   the   ways   in  which  service  providers  view  them.  For  example,  people  who  are  often  only  discussed  in   terms   of   their   needs   will   also   have   significant   assets   and   capacities.   They   also   have   very   diverse  needs  and  interests  so  a  ‘one  size  fits  all’  top  down,  broadcast  message  is  unlikely  to   connect  well.    The  stakeholder  mapping  and  analysis  stages  of  the  project  plan  (see  below)   will  enable  the  working  group  to  have  a  good  understanding  of  existing  networks.     Connections   are   made   when   messages   resonate   with   people   and   they   respond.     Connections  range  from  the  giving  of  information,  for  example,  about  a  public  engagement   event,  to  the  devolution  of  power  and  resources  to  individuals  and  groups.    It  is  important   to  be  clear  about  the  purpose  of  engagement  and  to  match  the  method  used  (the  channel)   to  the  purpose.        


The Channels  used  to  connect  and  engage  with  people  should  be  chosen  because  of  their   appropriateness  to  the  needs  of  the  people  to  be  communicated  with,  rather  than  for  the   convenience  of  those  wishing  to  engage.    Effective  engagement  happens  when  a  wide  range   of   channels   are   used.   These   may   include   meetings;   surveys;   websites;   social   media   especially  Twitter;  local  radio;  local  newspapers  and  face-­‐to-­‐face.    It  is  important  to  match   the   choice   of   connections   and   channels   to   the   needs   of   communities   to   ensure   effective  

engagement with  the  right  people,  in  the  right  way,  about  the  right  things    and  at  the  right   time  –  for  them.    

Public services  have  often  been  criticised  for  failing  to  engage  with  disadvantaged  groups.     This  has  caused  high  levels  of  anxiety  without  providing  any  clarity  about  which  groups  are   ‘hard   to   hear’.   It   is   the   combination   of   social   marginalisation,   powerlessness   and   lack   of   understanding   of   the   language   and   the   official   and   unofficial   ‘rules’   of   public   life   which   combine  to  create  significant  barriers  to  engagement.        

All engagement  activity  is  based  on  the  premise  that  individuals,  partner  organisations  and   communities   can   and   will   engage   in   a   dialogue.     However,   the   capacity   which   different   groups  have    to  engage  will  vary  enormously.    It  is  helpful  to  work  with  the  local  voluntary   and  community  sector  to  build  the  capacity  of  citizens  to  become  more  involved.    Voluntary   organisations   can   act   as   advocates   for   individuals   and   groups   of   customers   or   citizens.   However,   it   is   important   to   avoid   falling   into   the   ‘usual   suspects’   trap   by   over-­‐using   the   same  small,  self-­‐selected  group  of  people  as  if  their  views  are  a  proxy  for  those  of  a  large,   diverse  group  of  citizens  or  a  whole  community.    

Community development  can  help  to  increase  confidence,  raise  awareness  and  make  local   connections   –   all   of   which   provides   a   good   foundation   for   community   engagement.     Individual   citizens   may   require   advocates   to   help   them   express   their   views.     The   key   requirement   of   advocates   is   that   they   articulate   the   needs   and   wishes   of   the   people   they   speak  for  and  not  their  own.       It  is  clear  from  the  public  response  to  the  events  organised  by  NewsinBrum  that  it  can  be   very   effective   for   a   community   group   to   act   as   ‘animateur’   of   engagement   activity.   Not   only   do   they   have   access   to   extensive   networks   of   people   who   both   know   and   care   about   the   issues,  their  involvement  demonstrates  that  citizens  have  both  power  and  influence.      

Change is  the  key  test  of  whether  engagement  is  effective.    Unless  people  feel  listened  to   they   will   soon   disengage,   which   is   costly   in   terms   of   both   wasted   resources   and   damaged   trust,   reputations   and   relationships.     Successful   engagement   gives   access   to   the   untapped   capacity  of  people  to  be  more  creative,  do  more  for  themselves  and  each  other.  This  doesn’t   mean  that  people  can  expect  every  decision  to  be  made  in  line  with  their  wishes  but  it  does   mean  they’ll  know  they  have  been  heard  and  their  contributions  are  truly  invaluable  to  the   creation  of    a  positive  narrative  for  Birmingham.    


7 Using an  ‘Appreciative  Enquiry’  approach     Appreciative  Enquiry  is  a  model  for  analysis,  decision  making  and  the  creation  of  strategic   change.  It  is  based  on  the  idea  that  asking  questions  about  ‘what  works’  and  envisioning  a   positive  future  creates  positive  reIationships.  It  is  underpinned  by  five  principles;     • The  Constructionalist  principle  –  which  proposes  that  what  we  believe  to  be  true   determines  how  we  see  the  world.   • The  principle  of  Simultaineity  proposes  that    real  change  starts  to  happen  when  we   talk  and  think  about  the  things  we’d  like  to  change.   • The  Poetic  principle  refers  to  the  way  in  which  people  engaged  in  a  shared   endeavour  co-­‐create  a  shared  narrative       • The  Anticipatory  principle  proposes  that  our  current  behaviour  is  influenced  by  our   expectations  about  the  future   • The  Positive  principle  proposes  that  momentum  and  positive  change  are  driven  by   positive  sentiments  such  as  hope,  inspiration  and  camaraderie.     The  model  uses  a  four  stage  model  to  build  and  then  implement  and  collective  visions  for  a   better  shared  future.    

• What works   well?  

• How can   things  work   beber?  





• Implement change  

• Plan and   prioriase   change    

The  working  group  has  agreed  to  use  an  Appreciative  Enquiry  approach  to  underpin  the   design  of  the  ‘Start  up’  event,  future  events  and  engagement  via  social  media.   7

8 Outline Action  Plan     Actions   Form  The   Birmingham   Partnership  working   group   First  working  group   meeting   Stakeholder  mapping   and  analysis   Outline  engagement   plan     ‘Start  up’  event   Second  working   group  meeting   Full  engagement   plan  and  work   programme  for   2015/16      

Outcomes Build  collective   leadership  

Lead Chamber  of   Commerce  and  BCU  

Deadline Early  May  

Shared sense  of   purpose   Understanding  of   diverse  needs  of   stakeholders   Clarify  engagement   priorities  and  set  out   methodologies  to  be   used   Begin  engagement   for  real   Review  progress  

Director of  Public   Health   Universities  

End May  

UoB and  BCU  

End June  

Hosted by  Aston  ?  

Early July  

Director of  Public   Health   UoB  and  BCU  

End July  

Set out  agreed  work   plan  for  next  six   months    


End June  

Early September  

Profile for David Allen

Birmingham partnership outline  

A draft proposal for Birmingham Partners.

Birmingham partnership outline  

A draft proposal for Birmingham Partners.