John Hitchin, Renaisi’s CEO writes week notes to capture and reflect on the realities of running a social enterprise.

Place-based systemic change

We finally published the funding for systemic change papers a couple of weeks ago. For a few reasons, not least COVID, it all got delayed from a targeted publication at the end of March. I’m proud of it, but also see the flaws and want to build on it immediately. Leaving it so long does that. We’ve had some really interesting responses to date, and are going to be sharing next steps soon.


I like that we were able to put an idea into a framework that connects lots of different approaches to working in a place-based way, to a desire to make that systemic. I’ve talked before about different ways of thinking about place, and doing this work really helped me understand some of the differences.

I am interested in reframing challenges and ways of working, and I got an enormous amount out of talking to different people who are trying to reframe their work away from a simple thematic project, to a wider, place-based and systemic intervention.

You can sign up to get involved in the next phase by contacting Kezia Jackson-Harman.

Training and communicating

We’ve been working with Right to Succeed for a little while on their theory, evidence base and approach to learning, and we have got a great deal out of the partnership. Last week I spent a lot of time talking with them about a training session we’re going to be jointly running for their new collective impact area in North Birkenhead. It’s a hugely exciting project, and one I’m very interested in given I grew up a couple of miles away.

From a Renaisi perspective, the thing that I’m most keen to explore is how we get better at turning our experiences and insights into training and other dissemination tools. We’ve never prioritised that, and I don’t see it as being a big part of who we are, but it often feels a waste if it sits with us and our clients alone.

Another place

We had a project kick off meeting for a piece of work we’re going to be doing with the Peel Institute in South Islington. I’m excited about being the learning partner for another really interesting place-based organisation that is trying to shift local systems through community organising. It also means I get to do some work with my friend Tom, and we get to go back to South Islington, which for 10 years was a massive part of Renaisi through the management of the EC1 New Deal for Communities programme. I started working for Renaisi on that project back in 2006, and have an enormous fondness for that place and that community.

Reading, listening and watching

I’m well into Hamnet now, and really enjoying it. Really beautiful writing and a wonderful concept. I can see why it won awards.

After listening to the most recent Talking Politics podcast, I bought Jill Lepore’s If Then, which is just out. I love seeing historians demonstrate the value of the discipline to the questions of the present, particularly in a way that asks and answers questions in a completely different way to the social sciences.

I also bought Mayflies by Andrew O’Hagan. I’ve not started it yet, but can’t wait. He is one of my favourite writers, and feel he is so good on having empathy for relationships which we all find hard to articulate what they mean to us.