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

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

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Background to What is the MASH Lab collaboration?

3. What makes collaboration empowering?

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A draft template for collaboration

Community wellbeing outcomes

Feedback, next steps and support


Empowering ways of working Input from changes

The Community Empowerment Dimensions are used in Dudley’s multi-agency engagement work

Sal Hampson from changes, one of the MASH Lab facilitators explained that people in Dudley have been working with the Community Empowerment Dimensions for seven years. They underpin the Voice framework for community influence which was developed with community networks in Dudley, and they are central to training and support in community engagement in Dudley through engaging together. Sal explained that despite the terminology, ‘community empowerment’ is not just about communities, it is also about organisational structures and processes being empowering, including inside local authorities. Community empowerment should be seen as involving far more than just shaping and choosing services and ‘empowered’ individuals do not necessarily mean that we have empowered communities. Community empowerment should be happening in a collective, rather than only personal, setting. Community empowerment should be seen as an integral part of working, as a process which focuses on how we work in empowering ways; and as an outcome – for both communities and agencies; a change which is enduring, which is intended to improve the quality of life for communities and their environments. From changes website Sal explained that community empowerment is about working in ways which empower people – ways which mean that people feel confident, that they – and the groups they are involved in – are inclusive and organised, that networks are formed, are cooperative and support each other and – ultimately – they are influential. These are the 5 Community Empowerment Dimensions which Sal then described in more detail.


Confident By confident we mean working in a way which increases peoples skills, knowledge and confidence – and instills a belief that they can make a difference. In relation to collaboration this could mean that we collaborate in ways which enable us to recognise our own skills, and the skills, knowledge and confidence of others. We might also recognise when we have something to offer - and when we don’t. Inclusive By inclusive we mean working in a way which recognises that discrimination exists, promotes equality of opportunity and good relations between groups and challenges inequality and exclusion. In relation to collaboration this could mean that we recognise and value difference, we promote equality of opportunity and we promote good relations between individuals and groups. Organised By organised we mean working in a way which brings people together around common issues and concerns in organisations and groups that are open, democratic and accountable. In relation to collaboration this might involve encouraging shared learning and bringing people together collectively (physically and/or virtually). It would involve encouraging and valuing group working and experience and communicating effectively. Cooperative By cooperative we mean working a way which builds positive relationships across groups, identifies common messages, develops and maintains links to national bodies and promotes partnership working. In relation to collaboration this could mean promoting the value of long term collective change, seeking creative, complimentary approaches. It would involve knowing what we bring to a collaboration and building on the assets of others. Influential By influential we mean working in a way which encourages and equips communities to take part and influence decisions, services and activities. In relation to collaboration this might mean knowing that what we do makes a difference to individuals, to organisations and to communities. It would involve having a clear focus on broader outcomes and a plan to achieve them.


What makes collaboration empowering? Group discussions

Participants moved around in groups considering each of the Community Empowerment Dimensions in turn and adding their own thoughts and ideas to help shape a template for collaboration. During the activity a large range of ideas were generated. Groups then worked together to cluster contributions and draw up lists of key ideas for each Community Empowerment Dimension. Confident: we collaborate in ways which mean that we... Take a positive view of taking risks in order to be innovative Are able to disagree and negotiate solutions See mistakes as opportunities for learning Are open to being challenged (to change our perspective) Are transparent Have confidence in one another’ capabilities, competencies and gaps


Inclusive: we collaborate in ways which mean that we... Are all unique Recognise that difference is positive Recognise, value and use these differences to attain best possible outcomes Ensure that everyone’s knowledge, skills and strengths (assets) are used appropriately Offer and promote other opportunities for inclusion through sharing knowledge of the bigger picture Organised: we collaborate in ways which mean that we... Have clarity of purpose/ direction Take different approaches to communication – feedback and building a network Identify the resources required - skills, funding, buildings etc Have a structure for making decisions – accountability manage time and expectations have a process for checking progress = for learning & reflection Have systems for documentation Keep things as simple as possible – realistic Are flexible

“The broader outcomes: upskilling, developing opportunities for individuals & communities” tweet by Wendy Fryatt, event participant


Cooperative: we collaborate in ways which mean that we... Have clear, constant communication throughout, underpinned by trust, honesty and openness partner organised Will ensure buy in - top down/bottom up also partner organised Always consider creative ways of working and pooling resources, people, assets Develop time to reflect, evaluate, plan, learn, embrace structure and reassurance – we are accountable! Are clear about aims/vision and turn individual competition into cooperative team – do this by being honest and open about own agendas

Influential: we collaborate in ways which mean that we... Have a [collective] strong & clear vision to persuade and involve others & empower them Know ‘who’s who in the zoo’ – we have access to information, people, organisations Involve the actual beneficiaries Respect in all directions Instil a belief that you can influence Discuss/identify what we can/can’t influence Are willing to listen Learn how influence has been achieved – sharing, tools, process, methods, local authority – community; community – local authority Exude passion Educate: citizenship, dispel myths Know what’s important to influencers


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 3