Over the last few years I have witnessed a rapid transformation on how we work with communities. By bringing communities closer to the service design process and embracing user testing we have services shaped with people, rather than for people. It’s a really simple but effective way of delivering services that are just better, and involving people is now embedded in our service design.
It’s why I am particularly proud of the way in which we are working with communities and the ambition we have shown to do this. We have a long way to go and the relationship we want will take time to build. However, we are on that journey and are laying a strong foundation from which to work. Underpinning this foundation is the Stockport Local Fund.
The fund has been central to opening up dialogue between the voluntary and public sector. It is more than just money. It has enabled us to connect closer, to gain a richer understanding of communities’ needs and to have an open dialogue. Some of these conversations have not always been easy… but should they be? We need to have conversations that challenge our thinking otherwise we will not evolve. And the fund has changed, has evolved and will continue to do so, because it is our ambition to put people at the heart of everything we do.
How has Stockport Local Fund changed?
For this round of funding we have changed the priorities to reflect feedback we have received and the current situation we are in. Since the start of the pandemic, the voluntary sector has had to do a full pivot and transform how they run services. A barrier for many will be digital infrastructure and to respond we have a priority specifically around digital based solutions.
The amount you can apply for is still £10,000, but we have shortened the application form to just two questions, making it even easier to apply. Often it’s harder to explain in less words but I am confident that this will be enough because we know more than we did 2 years ago, the relationship is stronger and working together has allowed us to build up that trust and understanding.
There is another change too – we will be delivering Co-Design workshops. We have colleagues from Public Health, Support Funds, Adult Social Care and Digital Inclusion hosting workshops to share ideas and explore opportunities for working together as One Stockport:
16th November: This workshop will help develop ideas which help to increase digital inclusion and grow our DigiKnow movement. We will be providing support and advice to organisations looking to fund projects that will:
- help people who lack digital skills to do things online from shopping or banking to form filling and maintaining social contact
- helping people to stay safe online
- provide digital technology (equipment or data) to those who need it
- build the digital capabilities (skills and equipment) of VCSE groups and organisations
17th November: This workshop will help develop ideas which help to increase social inclusion. We will be providing support and advice to organisations looking to fund projects that will:
- connect people who are isolated or lonely with each other
- develop online and COVID secure social activities
- help people meet new people or stay in touch with family and friends
- strengthen support networks and groups for people with underlying health conditions, disabilities or special educational needs
19th November: This workshop will help develop ideas which help people living on a low income. We will be providing support and advice to organisations looking to fund projects that will:
- connect the community food offer with our local Foodbanks and Pantries and develop sustainable food solutions
- improve access to clothing and equipment
- help people access support with household maintenance and repair
The fund is part of One Stockport, and people have asked what does it mean? Well what does it mean to you? Because that is more important. To me it means that together, we will not only meet the challenges we face, but will be stronger for it. That not one sector, service or team has the solutions, but by working together we have a greater chance of finding them.
Stockport Local Fund is open on the 16th November for applications, but we are open all year round for a conversation. Stockportlocal@stockport.gov.uk
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