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A wise woman once said ‘Let’s start at the very beginning, it’s a very good place to start’. In fact, it’s an ethos designers all over the world use to improve our lives and how we live them. Whether you think of Tesla, AirBnB or Amazon Prime, (whatever their ethics or business models) they’ve all been successful because of their similar approaches. They each started with a strong understanding of how a problem or gap was experienced by everyday people, they backed this up with a commitment to a new way of working, then built a new normal for their would-be customers.


In the world of public services, we often think about the beginning, we look at the social problem we’re trying to solve, and we go back to purpose. We ask questions such as: why are we doing this, what impact are we looking to have and what resources can we afford to make it happen? We start with what we’re trying to fix, but if we’re honest do we truly start at the very beginning? True ‘day one’ thinking doesn’t just consider the problem in isolation, it asks how it feels for those people living within it, it looks at the environment around it, and the conditions needed for change; whether that’s the different experiences we need to understand, the partners we need to involve, the infrastructure we need to develop or even the attitudes we need to nurture.


For some time, we’ve been reflecting on what Capacity can do to help our public and third sector partners make public services people services – to do things differently and most importantly, more effectively. Our first 8 years have been spent working on many of these problems, to briefs that have already been decided and funding pots that often sit in isolation. Now, we want to try something different. We want to work with a range of partner organisations and use shared, in-depth understanding of local people’s experiences and ideas to drive fundamental change in the system itself. When we considered this approach and what it might look like in reality, unsurprisingly our thoughts were filled with complexity, with systems, ways of working, cultures and structures – often things that actually act as blockers to change. To overcome this, we’ve set out to find partners that have the same enthusiasm we do, people and organisations who want to find ways through these barriers, people and organisations who want to act as enablers, people and organisations who are keen to work together to try and do things differently.


So, with this in mind, we’ve accessed funding from a core group of grant funders including the National Lottery Community Fund and Barrow Cadbury Trust to create a place where we can consider and start to build the conditions we need to create some real-life impact for the people in our region. Time to get under our individual and collective ‘bonnets’ and understand more about these barriers to change and what we can do to bring them down. This programme is here to pull health and social care leaders and frontline workers away from the nitty-gritty of their day jobs, to truly listen to them and the people they support and to start to work on the fundamental changes our city region needs to make a bigger and bolder difference in local lives.

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