NPC has been working closely with local community coordinators in Buckinghamshire, Coventry and Sutton to learn how ways of working and attitudes to collaboration have shifted during the coronavirus crisis. This report on local coordination sets out how levels of trust and collaboration increased between organisations and sectors in these three areas, but also how these positive developments may be under threat.

The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift towards many of the ways of working and attitudes that place-based working had been aiming to address for many years: local action has been vital in the response to the pandemic, with people looking out for their neighbours and mutual aid groups springing up to support people in local communities. In the first phase of our research, we heard about positive changes to local coordination. These changes included:

  • Faster collaboration between organisations and sectors
  • A stronger sense of shared focus
  • Greater pooling of data and resources, and less bureaucracy
  • The lowering of organisational boundaries

Participants then shared what they felt most threatened the positive shifts outlined above. The four key threats that we uncovered were:

  • A breakdown of trust between organisations and sectors
  • A loss of momentum
  • Skills and resource gaps
  • Difficulties in keeping up with changes in need and provision

In this report, we identify opportunities for addressing these threats. To help maintain the progress that has been made on place-based coordination, there are three themes that have emerged as requiring particular attention:

How to maintain the progress that has been made on coordination diagram. Finding focus, Meaningful participation, Sharing data.

Charities, funders, and government are now at a key turning point. We must decide how we keep up the momentum and maintain the trust that has developed between different organisations. Keep up the reduction in bureaucracy, while ensuring we take an orderly approach to decision-making, allowing proper consideration of longer-term aims and the meaningful co-design of solutions. We must also explore what additional support—structures, resources, tools—can help continued multi-agency working, and the role that funders and others can play in enabling this to take place.

We look forward to taking action, in line with the themes and implications explored in this research, through the Pledge on Place network. If you’d like to be involved in this, please get in touch. For more on this research, read this blog. For more on NPC’s work on place-based approaches click here.

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