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Dudley’s MASH Lab facilitating creative collaboration bet ween communities and Dudley Council

The first in a series of reports from a MASH Lab event held on 18 July 2012 at INSIGHT House

1.

2.

Background to What is the MASH Lab collaboration?

3. What makes collaboration empowering?

4.

5.

6.

A draft template for collaboration

Community wellbeing outcomes

Feedback, next steps and support


Background to MASH: rooted in communities

Funding cuts from government to local public sector agencies means that they can no longer afford to provide all the services and facilities that they do. This could have detrimental impact upon the citizens and communities of Dudley borough. The voluntary, community and faith sector, citizens and others, such as existing and new enterprises, can help to reduce any negative impact if more collaborative ways of working are found. Designing and delivering collaboratively leads to a more diverse range of service and support opportunities. Dudley Community Partnership members have been exploring a changing relationship between communities and local public sector agencies in initially in relation to Big Society and latterly in relation to new legislation in the Localism Act and emerging policy around Open Public Services. A significant part of this exploration was an action research project with Urban Forum in relation to new Community Rights. During discussions with people involved in grass roots community groups and organisations tackling poverty and injustice a significant need arose in relation to Dudley Council considering services, people and physical assets together. We reflected the discussions through the concept of MASH: Managing Assets and Services Holistically. Through the Community Rights Made Real project the thinking behind MASH was shared with the Chief Executive and Directors of Dudley Council. They were supportive of what local groups and organisations were asking for in terms of a different relationship.

“Collaboration is designing together – not somebody coming back with a solution” MASH Lab participant


The following are tweets from the meeting between community groups and council decision makers,

Following the meeting with decision makers in February 2012 a MASH Lab Launch event was held in April 2012. Three areas around which collaboration could make a significant dierence were identified, which originated in ideas and issues raised by groups in the Community Rights Made Real project.


Three areas for collaboration 1. Creative use of existing assets (assets can mean tangible things like buildings and money, and intangible things like skills and relationships). 2. Sustainable commissioning decisions and/or service change 3. Informed and influential people: local authority, communities and individuals Teams of Dudley Council and voluntary sector officers were drawn together to carry out Appreciative Inquiries around the three areas. Developing appreciation is a key component of an organisational or social learning approach. In the context of collaborative decision making, Geoffrey Vickers has identified appreciation as a three step process: 1. A reality judgment about what is (observed) 2. Value judgments around what ought to be (expected) and 3. Instrumental judgements about what can be done to reconcile the difference between what is observed and the expected standard. Interviews were carried out with a range of Dudley Council officers and people from voluntary and community sector groups. The findings illustrate that there is a huge overlap in how people feel things are currently, and their aspirations around what they would like things to be like (for example in relation to commissioning, communication or sharing assets). A number of new ideas also emerged, which were added to the ideas from the Community Rights Made Real project as projects which could be taken forward collaboratively.


MASH Lab reports This is the first in a series of 6 reports from an event held at INSIGHT House in Brierley Hill on 18 July 2012. The MASH Lab followed an earlier MASH Launch event in April 2012. The event participants included 16 officers from Dudley MBC, 10 people from voluntary and community groups/networks, and 4 officers from Dudley Community Partnership (see the appendix for a full list). During the event a template for empowering collaboration in Dudley was developed and given a trial run in relation to six collaborative projects which event participants developed to work on over coming months. Through discussions it emerged that in collaboration between communities and Dudley Council we would like to take a positive view of taking risks in order to be innovate. We recognise that difference is positive and aim to use differences to attain the best possible outcomes. We want to take different approaches to communication which include feedback and building a network. We aim to always consider creative ways of working and pooling our resources, people and assets. We want to directly involve beneficiaries. We have developed collaborative projects around: 1. People as assets 2. Sharing physical assets - buildings 3. Sharing physical assets - furniture 4. Sharing training and learning opportunities 5. Sustainable commissioning decisions 6. Developing Neighbourhood Forums Report 2 contains rich detail of discussions during the event around the question: What is collaboration? Report 3 introduces Community Empowerment Dimensions and a discussion about What makes collaboration empowering? Report 4 contains a draft template for collaboration developed and used during the event. Report 5, Community wellbeing outcomes, contains detailed discussion from the event around the above 6 projects, as well as also providing some background information from the Appreciative Inquiries Report 6 offers brief feedback from the end of the event and the agreed next steps.

“Collaboration demands a clear understanding about the ability, capacity and limitations of each collaborator/organisation... without this we are into assumptions” MASH Lab participant


Appendix: MASH Lab participants We are grateful to the following for their participation in the MASH Lab Andy Barry Brendan Bridget Chris Dawn Dennis Dick Donna Faye Geoff Gillian Jason John Kate Kate Katriona Lorna Louise Marc Martin Matthew Melissa Menna Mike Ruth Simon Sue Tony Wendy

Wright Hutchinson Clifford Brickley Morrey Bonnick Hodson Jeavons-Fellows Roberts Conroy Thomas Lloyd Whyley Cheadle Green Warren Lafferty Prescott Clarke Carter Baines Smith Guest Flavell Wood Heeks Manson Haywood Laycock Fryatt

Dudley MBC Dudley MBC Dudley MBC Dudley Community Partnership Dudley Community Partnership Dudley MBC Dudley Community Partnership Stourbridge Rugby Dudley MBC Dudley Community Partnership Dudley MBC Dudley Borough Interfaith Network Dudley Council Dudley Table Tennis League /Bromley TT Club Dudley CVS Public Health, NHS Dudley DMBC Community Safety Team Dudley CVS Dudley MBC INSIGHT for Carers Dudley MBC Dudley MBC Dudley CVS Dudley MBC Dudley MBC Autism Outreach Service Dudley Council Dudley MBC - Community Safety Team Stourbridge Hub & Social Transformation Black Country Foodbank

The event facilitators were: Sal Hampson and Jill Bedford from changes and Nick Bird


MASH Lab report no 1