Local Area Coordination in England and Wales

May 2020
Updates on Local Area Coordination, the work of the Network and the areas implementing Local Area Coordination.  
In this month's edition we'll be covering:
  • Weathering the storm podcasts
  • Observatory sightings
  • Lockdown reflections
  • and more...

Update from Nick Sinclair, Director of the Local Area
Coordination Network

This month our Network members have continued attending their weekly online gatherings.  It has been inspiring to see Local Area Coordinators and managers from all over England and Wales coming together to connect, share and reflect with each other during what has been an immensely challenging and difficult time for them all.  We are carefully documenting the information and insights shared in these gatherings alongside evidence from other sources including our new podcast series “Weathering the Storm”, blogs from our members, tweets and testimonies etc.  Taking this approach has given us the opportunity to build an ongoing timeline which we are calling “The Covid Crisis Through a Local Area Coordination Lens”.  Our hope is that this growing evidence base will support the opportunity for ongoing and future reflection around what has worked well and what hasn’t. Here are some of our very early observations from what we’ve heard over the last few weeks:

  • Communities are highly responsive in a crisis – hyper local neighbourliness has been incredibly effective in neighbourhoods across our whole Network.  In comparison, national volunteer programmes and some local government led ones don’t appear to have been quite as effective. 
  • Where there has been a genuine investment in supporting place and asset-based working and where there are good relations and trust between local government, voluntary institutions and communities, local areas have been able to work more collaboratively, playing to everyone’s strengths and achieving greater outcomes.
  • For the most part, Local Area Coordinators have been deployed in the crisis response based on their connections, strengths and relationships. Their positioning has proved vital for ensuring community responses are at the heart of wider plans.
  • There is a desire all round to sustain the new levels of social capital in communities.
  • The mental health and confidence of many people in communities has be shaken and social anxiety, isolation and other personal challenges will be significant as we begin to unlock.
  • The language of crisis and vulnerability has been persistent and likely to linger for a while.  It could be a distraction from future work focussing on a citizen’s vision for a good life and their potential to make their contribution.

In general, throughout the last few weeks, we’ve been encouraged to hear so many stories of neighbours getting to know each other, communities helping each other out and genuine strengths-based proliferating in the service system.  Equally though, we are starting to see the immense challenge that lies ahead for individuals, communities, councils and other statutory services as they begin to overcome one crisis and move in to another that may prove to be even more complex and prolonged. 

It has been so apparent that there has never been a better time for Local Area Coordination as a complimentary strategy to support recovery and renewal at all levels both within our Network and in new areas.  We are here and ready to have helpful conversations.

Resources on Local Area Coordination and/or Asset Based work

Surviving the Pandemic: New challenges for Adult Social Care and the Social Care Market
This discussion paper by Professor John Bolton at the Institute of Public Care (IPC) looks at how councils have avoided the predicted collapse over the period of austerity (2010-2020) and highlights new problems that have emerged during the Covid 19 pandemic. Drawing on several previous papers developed by Professor Bolton, this paper explores these challenges and looks at how areas already invested in community capacity building and coordination may fare better. Approaches considered include Local Area Coordination and community micro-enterprises. 
Read the full paper
New operating models and COVID-19: A catalyst for change?
This research update follows on from Nesta's Upstream Collaborative which brings together leaders of pioneering Councils to share, explore and learn. This update looks at the changes in ways of working in Local Government and whether COVID-19 has helped to increase the uptake of new ways of working. Read the update
Community micro-enterprise as a driver of local economic development in Social Care
This report, produced by Barrow Cadbury Trust, New Economics Foundation and Community Catalysts considers the economic impact of community micro-enterprises as an element of 'whole system transformation'. It also makes recommendations about the direction of social care and how this can strengthen local economies. Find out more and read the full report here 

Weathering the storm - podcast

We're continuing our popular podcast series ‘weathering the storm’ with two new place-based episodes - one from Kirklees and one from York.


Put on your positive pants* and listen to Joe and Jennie chat about Jennie’s recent paper ‘It’s all about People and Relationships...’ which looks at how being an asset based area has helped organisations and communities across York come together through the Coronavirus pandemic.

*see 19 mins into podcast

"Those existing relationships and partnerships have become even more important because, as information’s been changing everyday, we’ve been needing to get that new information out to people so that they can help themselves, help their families, friends and know what’s going on and feel reassured…so having those existing networks, when I reflect, I don’t know how we would’ve got all that information out there in the way that we have"
Jennie Cox, Senior Coordinator at City of York Council


A shared story showing the power of Community and Council collaborations during the Covid response in Kirklees. The podcast is both inspiring and moving but also, we think, quite unique. It really shows what can be done when people commit to listening and learning from each other, doing their best to overcome any organisational and structural barriers that get in the way.  

“The fact that we’ve all started communicating, we all know each other exist, we see the strengths that each other have and we’re seeing the impact of us all pulling together to use those strengths, it would be stupid to let that all end just because Covid does.”
Charlene Novak, who runs a Mutual Aid Group

Relationships Project - observatory sightings

The Relationships Project has shared new 'observatory' insights from the Coronavirus pandemic this month. They include community stories that are happening now which will shape how we look back on this time and how we move forward as a society. 

Read the latest sighting here: 
Coming together and moving apart
Read sighting #5: From control to participation
Read sighting #4: From competition to collaboration
Find out more and take a look at all the previous sightings 

Do we need to reset the relationship between the state and our community?

In her latest video blog CEO of Community CatalystsSian Lockwood, reflects on her personal experience of shielded lockdown and the implications for our sector and society as we emerge from the current Covid 19 crisis. She asks how can we grieve for what we have lost, learn from our experiences and ensure we retain the community, connectivity and compassion we have found through this very difficult time #brightlightsinadarkworld

Podcasts from #socialcarefuture

#socialcarefuture are continuing their podcast series from people in communities who are stepping up to take action during these tough times of the Coronaviurs. The podcasts share the ideas that are driving what people are doing and the kinds of action being taken. They also discuss the issues that need addressing and look to the future thinking about how people see things changing in society.
  • Neil Woodhead, manager of the Local Area Coordination team in Derby, talks about how working in a non-bureaucratic way to connect people, gifts and solutions should be the "new normal"
  • Wendy Mitchell and Philly Hare share resources they've developed about supporting people with Dementia
  • Shadow Social Care Minister Liz Kendall MP speaks about medium and long term priorities for social care
  • Kathryn, Jade and Pete from the Great Communities project at MacIntyre share how their project builds community inclusion with local partners and links with people with learning disabilities and autism who want to contribute and become leaders
  • Prof Donna Hall talks about community ownership, power and The Wigan Deal
  • Karyn Kirkpatrick from Keyring shares how they've adapted the help that they offer their members
  • Clenton Farquharson talks about his experience with the Birmingham and West Midlands direct payment and personal budgets network
Listen to previous podcasts and keep up to date with all the latest #socialcarefuture podcasts and blogs here

Useful blogs

The future of government is in your hands - which cards will you play? by Danny Buerkli

Covid Considerations: Weathering the storm of Covid-19 by Clenton Farquharson

It's high time we abandoned the language of vulnerability by Neil Crowther (throwback blog)

Covid Considerations: Who is at the edges of your map by Alex Barker

Valuable not vulnerable by Angela Catley

How to get in touch

Email or phone Cat for general enquiries or to supply content for future editions of the Update:

Email or phone Nick about work with members and about new work to embed Local Area Coordination in your area:

Facebook: @LACNetwork
Twitter: @LACNetworkUK
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The Local Area Coordination Network is hosted by Community Catalysts CIC who make sure that people, wherever they live, have real choice of great local social care, health services and other community resources.
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