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Changing places

10 May 2017

New collaboration between the Sustainable Places Research Institute and Welsh Government begins the process of co-designing a platform for Place Change Makers in Wales.

Researchers and policy makers recently gathered in Cardiff to help shape the idea of developing a platform to support place change-makers in Wales, especially those in front line roles in communities. The work involved international researchers from SUSPLACE - a European funded Innovative Training Network, of which the Sustainable Research Institute and Welsh Government are members. The week-long workshop brought together the joint expertise of researchers with the experience of practitioners and policy-makers to explore the principles of co-production in the Welsh context.

Highlight of the event was the stimulating talk by Professor Edgar Cahn and Dr Chris Grey of Time Bank USA, and leading influencers in co- production.

Speaking about the workshop Matthew Quinn, Distinguished Visiting Fellow said: “The work allowed participants to explore the power of working with communities, engaging local capacity and knowledge, rather than the traditional doing to. There was a real commitment to develop this learning together and to share it more widely.’

Sustainable Places Research Institute Director Professor Terry Marsden added “It was great to see so much interest, including representation from the Welsh Government’s Departments of Communities and Local Government, Health and Social Services and Environment and Rural Affairs, Natural Resources Wales, a range of NGOs, Wales Council for Voluntary Action and the Big Lottery.  We are keen to help take this work forward and to get even more stakeholders involved.”

Programme organisers Usha Ladwa-Thomas and Abid Mehmood will now be taking the outputs of the session to help develop future interactive events.  They will help to promote a Place Change Makers’ platform to frontline staff, third sector organisations, academics, policy officials and the wider public.

For the six SUSPLACE Early Stage Researchers the workshop provided an opportunity to explore co-production, as well as of the immense potential and challenges to establish it as standard working culture in Wales. The researchers heard first hand from the frontline staff’s stories and experiences of working directly with communities, as well as the collective will of the participants to keep the momentum going.

Other participants reported that the week challenged their thinking on how they enlist the support of the communities and share power with them in the new and uncertain futures they face.