The What Works Scotland response to Locality’s inquiry ‘Keeping it Local’, a call for the latest thinking and practice shaping the future of our public services.

“We are seeking evidence from those involved in the design, commissioning and delivery of services. We want to hear the latest thinking and practice that is shaping the future of our public services.”

Locality inquiry

The research evidence that What Works Scotland  has been/is generating is of most relevance to Question 2 of Locality’s inquiry – the role of local community organisations within the provision of local services (‘keeping it local’).

Whilst our explorations of the roles of community organisations are being undertaken in a Scottish policy and practice context which creates a particular set of opportunities and challenges, we would suggest they illustrate the potential for community organisations and enterprises ‘to engage with, lead and challenge’ public service reform more generally. And, therefore to contribute to the wider concerns of Locality’s inquiry that include: creating more responsive services; reducing pressure on public services; and investing in the local economy.

In relation to consultation question 2, we would draw your attention to the following What Works Scotland research reports and other material:

1. Fun, Food, Folk: The Centrestage approach to dignified food provision

(Briege Nugent and Oliver Escobar, 2017)

This research report is focused on Centrestage’s distinct food provision programme in some of the most deprived areas of North and East Ayrshire; it describes how Centrestage achieves impact, empowers individuals and communities, and draws lessons to inform policy and practice.

Centrestage is a charity, backed by the social enterprise Centrestage Music Theatre CIC, that uses food and the arts to engage people, help to improve their life chances and (re)build communities.

The Centrestage Catalyst Communities programme seeks to help people to access support, address underlying problems, build relationships and develop capacity for community action. The need for food provision is growing in the UK and the shame and stigma of resorting to foodbanks are significant barriers to access for those needing support. Solving food poverty and the causes of increased foodbank use may take time; meanwhile, there is a clear need for immediate innovations in the provision of services.

See the full report and summary: Fun, Food, Folk: The Centrestage approach to dignified food provision

2. Transforming communities? Exploring the roles of community anchor organisations in public service reform, local democracy, community resilience and social change

(James Henderson, Philip Revell & Oliver Escobar, 2018).

This research report explores the developing and unique roles of key independent community sector organisations known as community anchors – community-led, multi-purpose organisations. It draws from six exemplar anchor organisations to explore:

  • their roles in engaging with, leading and challenging public service reform;
  • how public services and the state can better support community anchors and community sector development;
  • the potential roles of anchors in building local democracy, community resilience for sustainable development, and wider social change.

The community sector includes a wide range of local not-for-profit organisations and groups – the local third sector. Community anchor organisations are of particular importance because they seek to be community-led, multi-purpose and responsive to local context. This enables them to lead and/or facilitate complex local activities focused on local community-led place-making, which includes:

  • local economic and social development e.g. community enterprise, local sustainable development (community resilience), asset ownership, building social capital;
  • design, development and provision of local public and community services; and
  • developing community leadership and advocating for community interests – strengthening a community’s voice and power to create change.

View the full report and summary here.

3. The Operation Modulus Approach: further lessons for public service reform

(Jane Cullingworth, Richard Brunner & Nicholas Watson, 2018)

This report examines how the approach and learning from a successful violence and anti-social behaviour intervention has spread to two other communities. The report shows how the distinct characteristics of the Operation Modulus approach support the principles and practice of public service reform. One of the key findings is that an ‘anchor organisation can help to maximise the impact’.

It builds on the original case study of Operation Modulus, a successful violence and anti-social behaviour intervention targeted at a gang of young people in the Gorbals area of Glasgow. This case study examines how the approach and learning from the original Operation Modulus has been spread to two additional communities in Glasgow. The goal of both reports is to show how the principles of public service reform as highlighted by the Christie Commission can be put into practice.

The success of Operation Modulus as an approach provides learning for statutory services and third sector organisations working collaboratively and co-productively in line with the principles of Christie. It also indicates the potential for prevention in public service reform.

View the full report and summary here.

4. Place-based working in Scotland: learning from six case-studies

(Davidson Knight & Rush, 2010). Published by Corra Foundation and Collaborate – Claire Bynner from What Works Scotland was on the Advisory Group supporting the project

Two of the case-studies are of community land trusts in the Western Isles – illustrating the value of community ownership in place-based approaches and the role of a community-led development agency. The full report is available on the Corra Foundation website.

5. Community councils in Scotland

A research project between What Works Scotland (Oliver Escobar) and the Scottish Community Development Council (SCDC) examining the developing role of Scottish community councils in relation to democratic practice and the local delivery of services (in some cases).

This research project is on-going.

What Works Scotland and SCDC collaborating on review of community councils

Date of response: July 2018