Building stronger and more resilient communities

The current challenges require public service commissioners to take a far more positive approach to the role that individuals and communities can play in the design, commissioning, delivery or prevention of demand for services.  This is about taking an “asset based” approach to commissioning services.  Rather than starting from the point of view that one’s role as a commissioner is to assess need and design services to address that need.  The role of commissioners is to assess strengths and capabilities as well as need.

To illustrate this in a very simple way – when researching for a recent project in an inner London community, we came across a new mosque (interestingly located in a closed down pub).  This mosque had several hundred worshippers attending every week.  In a meeting with the Iman and a colleague we heard that they were in the process of setting up a group to offer support to local people (not just their congregation) suffering from mental health issues.  They were not really aware of the commissioning processes of the local council and not surprisingly the local council were commissioning and delivering mental health services in ignorance of this local initiative.  Ultimately our work is about building stronger, more resilient communities.

However, for any public service provider to engage in community development they have to see a return –  that is they have to see some impact in terms of reducing demand for services as a consequence of this intervention.