Supporting Hackney’s grassroots community groups

Supporting Hackney’s grassroots community groups

It’s very important to teach people how to celebrate what they have already and how to enhance that. They’ve grown to a completely new level where they have secured quite a substantial sum of funding for their work.

What kind of service do you provide?

What I provide is a face-to-face organisational development work. Frontline organisations tend to prefer closer, more intense methods of support such as face-to-face consultancy – support that responds to a specific organisational development context.

A lot of very small or medium size organisations need support on fundraising or developing policies and procedures and need help pulling together future plans.

Very often I meet people who not only have to juggle running organisations with their working life but who struggle with the language. English is the second language for them and they need to learn the specific language of the funders. A lot of funders want to hear about things like objectives and outcomes – this is a whole language that needs translation. People like me are at the point where community groups come to seek advice.

What challenges do you face?

Funders have constantly felt that face-to-face support costs too much! Some big funders believe that local community groups should find everything they need online. However, the internet is full of stuff that’s not relevant, accessible or accurate.

But when you come to someone like me, who helps with development work and capacity building, we usually start with an empowerment model. My general question is ‘How do you make a difference to society, to the local residents?’ At first people are quite apprehensive, but when you ask them that question their eyes light up because they can tell me what works for them and what makes sense. They say ‘We run this project and we had 60 people at the event the other day.’ We then collect any analyse that information to evidence that what they do makes a difference.

The next step is to find out what they need to make it better. I think this method is more empowering. It’s very important to teach people how to celebrate what they have already and how to enhance it.

Who can come to see you and talk to you?

The individuals and community groups who want to start or have started already and are at their next developmental stage are welcome to contact me. That could mean that they are people who have come together, tested out something like intervention and found that it has worked. They want to expand it and attract some funds to be able to deliver it. I can help them to put things in context of what they need to have in place if they want to move on and get anyone else to invest in their idea.

Last year I worked with 64 individual organisations 20 of which are on an intensive programme I deliver called Delivering Change.

Can you give any examples of organisations which have developed?

There are many examples. One is organisation called Creative Lifestyle. They’ve taken on some of the learning and made good use of it. They have written a media feature which captures who they are, what they do and how they make a difference. They’ve managed to produce a project plan that shows exactly what they need. Most recently we’ve designed and developed a monitoring and evaluation system, which I’m very impressed with. They are obviously going places with all the right tools.

Another good example is Inner City Films, which is a community organisation providing media projects for young people. They came to me way back when they were pulling things together, sounding out ideas about what they should go for. Then they came back after a few years to say they’ve got a piece of work funded by the Big Lottery Fund’s Reaching Communities programme. Now they are paying us as the CVS to carry out the next stage. They’ve grown to a completely new level where they have secured quite a substantial sum of funding for their work.

What do you like most about your work?

I love it when someone runs away with some of the direction I have provided and produces something that shows they’ve understand what I tried to convey – when they produce a robust monitoring and evaluation framework or when they get the idea about writing outcomes and objectives. It’s rewarding to see people do something productive and take ownership of their work.

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