Place and social action

I ended the week at a conference about commissioning and the third sector. I talked about the place-based social action programme that we’re evaluating for DCMS and The National Community Lottery Fund, and how place and social action can be highly relevant to commissioners of all kinds of services. Our review of the first year of the programme can be found here.

I also used the opportunity to talk about some of the ideas in my essay on the concept of place in policy. This has been something that I’ve come back to over and over again during the year, and that I find useful to rethink. It is highly relevant to a couple of projects that I’ve been spending time on this week, and that I hope to be talking about a little more in the coming weeks. I do feel like conversations I’m having about place in funding and delivery are getting a little more precise and useful, rather than gimmicky and catch-all.

The Olympic Park

I had a few meetings on the Olympic Park on Tuesday, and so spent the whole day there. One meeting was about the challenges of growth in East London and whether enough people are accessing that growth. It was organised by Hackney Citizens and ELATT. It was interesting to see who was there, and that some were coming at it from a ‘we want access to jobs’ perspective, while others were asking questions of the system.

The other meeting was with the Our Parklife CIC board. Renaisi helped set Our Parklife up, and we are still involved with Groundwork London, ENGIE and idVerde. It does some great work supporting people to volunteer and work on the park, but from a governance perspective, we’ve had a tough year of getting through the boring parts of running a company. This meeting felt like we passed a key milestone and I’m hopeful that we can be looking at more ambitious development in 2020 for the CIC.

Calm before the storm

The rest of the working week was at my desk or in cafes on my laptop. There’s a lot that needs doing before Christmas, and so December is going to be interesting. In our consultancy team’s Monday meeting it was clear that I wasn’t the only person experiencing a calm-before-the-storm week.


The background, but still dominating, presence in my week was illness. Nothing serious, just the usual winter stuff. But when it involves a 3-month-old baby, everything feels really hard. No sleep for her mum, then her sister sleeps badly and wakes me up, we all get a bit ill and tired and ratty with each other. And it’s just really hard seeing a little person that ill and sad. Every parent knows that kind of week, and it really does take it out of you. Solidarity with anybody going through the same at this time of year!

Reading, listening and watching

Not much time for this, but one evening when the only way I could get our baby to sleep was in a sling, I stood in a dark room and read (with a torch) most of the first book of the new Philip Pullman trilogy, The Book of Dust. The second one has just come out, and I’ve finally got round to reading it as the first trilogy is currently on the BBC.

I remember waiting for the second and third books of His Dark Materials to come out and loving the world and characters that he had created. It was nice to read something so comforting when shushing a small sick child in a dark room at the end of the day!