WWS is working with many individuals in Fife who are involved in designing and delivering community planning. Together we are exploring ways of working and drawing out lessons that can help inform and improve community planning. We do this by collaboratively exploring three existing community planning projects which act as vehicles for understanding the processes and knowledge involved in local community planning. These topics include the integration of family support services through a family hub, local welfare support services, and a schools initiative. Practitioners are encouraged to think critically when reflecting on the content, context, and delivery of initiatives.

Over the past few months we have effectively created collaborative groups of practitioners from a range of public and third sector organisations. By working together across organisational and professional boundaries the self-directed inquiries can increase learning and help ensure sustainable multi-agency relationships for future community planning work. To achieve our aim these practitioners are coming together to form Partnership Innovation Teams (PITs) to define inquiry questions, explore internal and external evidence, systematically collect new data, and reflect on the research findings in order to introduce changes. Supported by WWS some practitioners will take part in methodological skills training over the course of the next year to support their internal systematic inquiries. This work will be supplemented with existing evidence, thematic seminars, and group workshops. The process is an important part of Collaborative Action Research as it empowers practitioners to design inquiries that suit their needs, take ownership of knowledge use, and enact changes.

The Fife CAR Home Retreat Report gives you more information about this work.

Hayley Bennett (University of Edinburgh and Research Associate with WWS), is leading the CAR work with Fife CPP.

CAR projects include:

  • Family Hub Initiative: In recent years practitioners in Kirkcaldy have started to integrate services, co-locate support for families, and find new ways of interacting and engaging with families. The PIT are keen to understand how some of these initiatives are working and where there could be improvements. Over time this group will also explore community engagement approaches and gain knowledge about the ways that practitioners can support and develop services for families.
  • Local welfare reform support (‘hub and spokes’ approach): This PIT is interested in gaining data and knowledge that can inform their delivery of services and local initiatives to individuals living in Kirkcaldy who are affected by changes to the social security system. The group are keen to explore how data sharing could improve service response, gain greater knowledge about the needs of service users, and research the ways that processes can be improved to support people in need. The aim of this group is ultimately to support residents in need and effectively try to prevent or reduce poverty.
  • The schools initiative is a local community planning project that provides alternative learning opportunities for students in some secondary schools in Kirkcaldy. The PIT are working together to systematically explore the ways that the initiative could be improved and think more broadly about the services and approaches that could help students who may need extra support during their teenage years. The group comprises of a range of education, school, third sector, and local authority workers. Their first piece of work seeks to map the different service options and pedagogical approaches and at the same time start to develop a network of practitioners who work to achieve the same social aims of improving the lives of disadvantaged young people.

Contact Hayley Bennett at Hayley.bennett@ed.ac.uk or 0131 6511325 for news on any of these projects.

You can read more about the Fife case study on the WWS blog