Helping people to get ideas off the ground

Imagine you have an idea for an activity in your community, something open to all, that people could take part in every week. There are often lots of things which get in the way of getting such ideas started, even simply to try them out to see if they work. Rooms for community activities cost money to hire (understandably). Funders need groups to have lots of paperwork in place. And they often assume you know everything you need to at the beginning. There isn’t much scope for learning from experience and adapting things as you go. It’s easy to see why lots of great ideas never get off the ground. And why lots of rooms in community venues often sit empty, without these amazing activities taking place in them.

Which is why it is so exciting for Dudley CVS to be working on something which is re-thinking how things usually work. Our starting point is discovering all sorts of amazing things in Wrens Nest which can support projects – rooms and resources in a the community centre, skills and talents people have and want to share, ideas of things people want to do together. Open Hub is the name given to this platform we’re creating to nurture local projects and enterprises.

On the 2nd of February this year two mums from Wrens Nest Estate took part in an Open Hub project co-design session. In just over an hour we shared visions for the community, discovered all sorts of skills and talents we each had, looked at some projects started in other parts of the world, and designed a Stay & Play project. The first session took place 3 days later and has been running weekly since. Promoted through Facebook and word-of-mouth to begin with, 8 families (that’s 13 kids) joined in during in the first 5 weeks.

On 24th of February five local residents took part in a session to co-design a cooking project focused on healthy eating and trying out recipes from Slimmers World. A week later 13 adults and 4 kids got together to cook their first meal and eat together. They have been getting together to cook and eat each week since.

We’re still in the middle of lots of learning and testing of how to create these completely new ways of working, and we will share this in due course. In the meantime we’ll be making all the individual project designs and resources we’ve developed open source, so that anyone can borrow and build on them. To find out more contact me ( or add a comment right here on this blog.

Dudley borough picked as one of 29 Vanguard projects

Nine hospitals and 14 GP-led bids have been given part of £200m funding to provide integrated primary, secondary and social care. The approval of the ‘vanguard’ projects marks the next major stage in the implementation of NHS chief executive Simon Stevens’ Five-Year Forward View.

NHS England said that there were 269 applications from groups of nurses, doctors and other health and social care staff. In all, 29 bids were approved, including six bids by care homes.

The two main new models of care – the GP-led ‘multi-specialty community providers’ (MCPs) and the hospital-led ‘primary and acute care systems’ (PACS) – were included as part of NHS England’s Five-Year Forward View.

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What we can achieve when we work together: celebrating International Women’s Day

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On Monday afternoon I had the lovely honour of celebrating International Women’s Day with Diyya, a group in Lye that supports women and their families by bringing them together, building their confidence and encouraging them to take advantage of opportunities to learn new things and develop their skills.

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