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#PowerToChange Community Partners Keen to Work in Systemic Partnership with City Council

13 Jun 2023

Our #PowerTo Change Community Partners' meeting enables a cross section of our community partners to share, reflect and learn together. Alongside this, it is seeking to use that learning to influence key local decision makers and development. So, the group were delighted that our key guest speaker for our meeting on Friday the 9th June was Abi Battisto, who is Leicester City council’s VCSE Engagement Manager.

Prior to meeting with Abi, the group shared updates which included:

  • Wesley Hall needs more food donations to keep their food bank running. Kieran offered to hook them up with the Haymarket shopping centre who might be able to set up a collection point.
  • Afro Innovation centre are developing new publicity and flyers about tier services and keen for partners to share.
  • Reaching people have limited supply of laptops that could be given to people who need access to one, but referral agency must commit to supporting them to learn how to use the laptop if this is needed. They also continue to run a lot of courses and support for community sector staff, volunteers, and trustees on a range of topics.
  • Leicestershire Cares' Aaron is launching a podcast work shop every Tuesday to run from LC office for young people aged 16 to 25, Atifa offering support to Homeless young people aged 16 to 25, through regular neighbourhood/community drop in sessions, but also willing to accept referrals and can offer advice to partners on housing and benefit issues. Also launching a new project to support SEND young people entering employment, education, and training in September
  • ZamZam Unlimited Possibilities are running an introduction to understanding Somali Culture at John Lewis café on Weds 14th September.
  • Socopa Yahye are keen to support the development of a young leader’s network, so the next generation of community leaders can grow and develop together.
  • Highfields has lots going on, have won funding to support work with those in or affected by the textile industry, also will be running Holiday Hunger and a summer playscheme.
  • Comfort project are seeking to raise awareness and support for children affected by Sickle Cell. Will be hosting “awareness” events and would love partners to attend.
  • The Ebb have a vision to make Leicester an "area of excellence" in support for the families of prisoners and are taking that vision to the Community Chaplaincy Association in October at the Royal Foundation of St Katherine. Keen for partners to share examples of good practice and experience of working with this group.
  • Centre for Social Justice. Holding a “Midlands big Listening event in July in Loughborough , would love members of the group to attend and share.

We also agreed that we would aim to hold a major conference in late autumn where we would showcase the stunning contribution the VSCE sector makes to the city and use this as an opportunity to forge more systemic partnerships with key public sector staff. There was a feeling that our contribution to local development and tackling poverty is often overlooked and sheer scale of what we provide often not known, so we will also share key data, that gets the “scale” of our contribution across.

Abi joined the meeting and shared:

She and the city council are keen to work in positive and productive partnership with the VCSE sector

Abi also shared that the long awaited VCSE strategy is going through scrutiny committee process, which was delayed due to local elections and changes that has brought to council chamber. She was aware this had been a long and delayed process but wanted to emphasise her “goal” is to work with the sector in bringing this paper alive. Questions and issues raised by the group included:

It would have been good if as originally promised the draft of the paper was shared with the those who participated in process so they can comment.

Paper must be a living document , as context forever changing, and sector must have a structural and systemic role in keeping it live.

For this partnership to work must be a systemic coproduction model and we are willing to commit resources to enabling this to happen.

We appreciate that this now happening, albeit without draft being shared, but fact this process has been ongoing for four years is an indicator, that things not working smoothly, and improvements needed, and we are keen to work with you on improving this.

It is great that Abi has been open and honest and is clearly willing to work in partnership with us

In further discussion those present shared that there is a lot of good will and experience at a community level, but often for variety of reasons, feels like this can be overlooked by the City Council and other public sector bodies. This is why we feel it is key to have systemic partnership working, so that we can contribute our “grassroots, frontline experience” with the key public sector teams and staff. One issue that kept coming up was:

We can all see the benefits of home working but we do feel the city council needs to ensure staff are still able to get out and about in the city on a regular basis so they can interact with and learn from the community .

Where city council have community based staff you can really see the benefits of the grounded knowledge they have.

It was also noted that the City Council is a big and complex organisation and that Abi would have a lot of work trying to get all of the departments on board with systemically liaising with the VSCE sector. A good starting point might be for key staff to attend the planned Autumn event. Participants shared that you really noticed when you come across a City Council staff member who seemed to put community needs first, and is prepared to go that extra mile. This might be an area where the sector could provide training for City Council staff on partnership working, and what we feel leads to effective relationship building and partnership working.

All present were very aware of the impact of cuts on City Council services and the pressure staff are under, but saw this as another reason why we should seek to work in partnership, so that we can pool together our resources and knowledge, and leverage in additional support.

Both the City Mayor and Abi have been very positive about developing partnership work with our sector. We are committed to partnering with them and the business sector, and would encourage all to be creative and agile and to work without ego, silo or logo so we can build a city where everyone can thrive

Kieran Breen, CEO, Leicestershire Cares


Video of participants quickly saying what community sector is good at

Notes of Kieran’s meeting with City Mayor

More info on our #PowerToChange model