For this reason, G53 Together had to be set up in a very quick and reactive way and while the group were able to support the community extremely effectively the members welcome the time relaxing of COVID-19 restrictions provided to reflect on how G53 Together could operate post-pandemic.
The group reached out to the Neighbourhood Design team at The Centre for Civic Innovation for support to help them understand and re-design their purpose and role in their community post COVID-19 crisis, so that it works at its best for and with the local communities and partners.
Working with the G53 Together Steering Group* we initiated a period of extensive design research to allow us to understand the local area and the people living there. We identified the strengths of the community and the challenges they face as well as the organisations and groups working there and their individual objectives, collective objectives and the challenges they face too.
This acted as a foundation of knowledge to prepare our conversations with G53 Together steering group members and make connections with what people shared with us. We created an online repository for this research and the insight we gathered which we made available to the community.
Through individual conversations with each G53 Together steering group member, we got to understand the perspective of each member on the priorities for people, the area, and also their perspective on how the group was working.
Based on what the group shared with us we could see in G53 Together the potential of a local network of solvers. The group had shown how agile it could be and how quickly it could react to respond to emergency needs. By working together, G53 Together was able to deliver amazing work and critical support to people.
All members expressed a desire to build on this collaborative approach to tackle local challenges and complex problems, to develop new ways of working and new solutions driven by local communities.
Based on these conversations we were able to establish a focus for the re-design as well as a process and format for sessions that suited the group best. We designed this process to be as accessible as possible considering the group’s needs, but also adaptive and flexible, meaning that we saw it evolve based on what the group needed and wanted to do. The series of interactive sessions used creative problem-solving tools to facilitate conversations and allowed the group to make sense of their ideas and take them forward. We introduced tools and methods gradually to make sure everyone felt comfortable to take part and understood what we were asking.
Our research showed us that people and local groups in the area have felt let down before, after engaging and then not being included in projects or in feedback loops. We kept this in mind throughout the process to make sure there was always an element of care in our sessions and regular feedback loops to ensure the group was getting what they needed before, during and after sessions.
The series of workshops gave the group the chance to develop practical directions and opportunities to explore together as well as methods and tools that could be useful as part of G53 Together projects and in their day to day work.
We facilitated and supported this project in our capacity of developing new ways of working for the city. In particular, our Neighbourhood Design work to embed design, data and innovation skills directly in communities to support and build upon the existing strengths of a community and support them to identify opportunities to improve the neighbourhood for the common good.
We also believe in communities driving the changes happening around them and could see how G53 Together might facilitate this. The project was an opportunity to build relationships, strengthen collaboration and an opportunity to share skills - in particular creative problem solving skills.