Local conversations in local spaces

A Notwestminster 2017 workshop from Louisa Thomson and Hannah Worth

Notwestminster workshops ident

Many councils want to involve residents and communities in decision making, but struggle to genuinely engage, or to listen to local voices. Traditional roles and the imbalance of power can get in the way. We know that there are many examples of growing community power at a local level, and these are often based on a different kind of conversation. We want to explore what makes this happen, and where the challenges and barriers remain.

We’ll share some examples (from our own work on the Big Local programme, and from one of our team who was a councillor for seven years) of where there have been different kinds of spaces for neighbourhood conversations. We encourage participants to bring along their own examples to share. Together we’ll unpick which methods and ways of working were successful in particular contexts and why. We’ll also explore whether we can create practical toolboxes of approaches to use at different levels in local communities, which are flexible enough to start up conversations, and to sustain them.

We hope our discussion will answer some of these questions:

  • How can councils enable decision making that creates agency and ambition, harnessing the resources of local communities as equals?
  • How do you change the dynamics of relationships between residents and local leaders and do things differently?
  • How do residents gain the confidence and resilience to lead changes at a local level?
  • How can local leaders facilitate discussions that enable local communities to take meaningful ownership and responsibility?

If you’re excited about the possibilities of communities influencing decisions, but share our frustrations that this does not always translate into reality, please come and share your experiences in this workshop to help us move things forwards.

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Louisa Thomson

Louisa Thomson
Head of Impact and Evaluation, Renaisi

Louisa is responsible for Renaisi’s impact and evaluation work with clients in local and central government, the voluntary sector and health. Louisa was a local councillor for seven years in a London borough, and although currently revelling in the joy of having evenings back, retains a strong interest in local democracy and the changing roles of councillors. She has a PhD from the Open University which focussed on the translation and interpretation of policy agendas in local government. She is also a trustee at Manor House Development Trust – a social enterprise in one of London’s largest regeneration schemes.

Hannah WorthHannah Worth
Head of Neighbourhoods and Community Action, Renaisi

Hannah has over 10 years’ experience of working in community and neighbourhood regeneration, and joined Renaisi three and half years ago. Current work includes leading support for Big Local reps (as a delivery partner in the Big Local programme), managing a pilot programme to support the development of neighbourhood planning in deprived urban areas, and a variety of community engagement and research projects across London boroughs. Hannah also spent 6 years as a co-director of Chamberlain Forum and previously managed the Birmingham Community Empowerment Network.

Kirklees Democracy Commission
Kirklees Democracy Commission

All our Notwestminster 2017 workshops are based on themes that have been inspired by discussions with citizens, as part of the Kirklees Democracy Commission.

This workshop is inspired by…

Communities influencing decisions

Notwestminster 2017 workshops list