Change that leads to better lives

Blog: Bringing Learning Together - Year 1 Report

"It's a story about people, relationships, and place."

Campfire photo

It's hard to believe that over a year has passed since we became part of the Bringing People Together Network, collaborating with numerous wonderful organisations, thanks to The National Lottery Community Fund, the largest community funder in the UK.

As the Learning Partner, we are delighted to share the Year 1 Report and the Summary Report with you, which highlights the emerging insights gained from the first year of this Programme.

The Bringing People Together Programme (BPT) strives to unite individuals and communities, even in the face of exceptional challenges. Here are some key aspects of the Programme's impact:

  • Forging connections across divides: By facilitating important conversations projects involved in the BPT Programme help people increase their understanding and explore difficult issues, thereby bridging gaps between individuals and communities.
  • Increasing positive micro-interactions: The small positive interactions between people can lead to cumulative change. By fostering these micro-interactions, we contribute to the overall strengthening of relationships and community bonds.
  • Strengthening a sense of belonging: The BPT Programme unites people around a common goal, shared vision, sense of purpose, or passion. This shared sense of belonging fosters a stronger and more resilient community.

The ripples of influence from our Programme are spreading outward, creating a larger impact:

  • Building new partnerships and relationships: Through this work, organisations which are part of the BPT network have formed valuable partnerships and relationships with other organisations, groups, and networks from various sectors and communities. Collaboration enables us to leverage shared resources for the benefit of communities.
  • Shifting power to communities: We are proud to see more people stepping up to be local leaders for change, empowering communities to take charge of their own destinies. This shift in power is essential for sustainable and inclusive development.
  • Influencing others: Our Programme has been successful in influencing the actions of external entities, such as local councils and transport services. By demonstrating the positive outcomes of bringing people together, we inspire others to adopt similar approaches.

Through our journey, we have identified critical success factors in the Bringing People Together work:

  • Investing in relationships and trust: Building strong relationships and trust is foundational to our work. We seek to find the spark that motivates people to engage and actively participate in community-building activities.
  • Laying the foundations: Taking the time to lay strong foundations at the outset is crucial. This involves understanding the context, identifying barriers, and developing strategies to overcome them.
  • Enhancing skills and confidence: The skills and confidence of individuals and roles that reinforce the social fabric of communities has increased. This investment empowers them to become catalysts for change.
  • Flexibility and responsiveness: We recognise that circumstances and contexts are constantly evolving. Therefore, we work flexibly and responsively, adapting our approaches to meet the changing needs of communities.

We have also gained valuable insights through recent campfire conversations, and we would like to share some of those with you:

  • Building, testing, and refining tools: Some models have proven successful because projects had the time to design and co-produce them. However, there are also projects that require further development to maximize their benefits for communities. We are continuously exploring ways to enhance and refine our approaches.
  • Offering positivity and hope: In challenging environments, our Programme has found that using creativity and art can bring people together. By engaging in collaborative artistic endeavors, individuals can bridge divides and find hope amid adversity. We also acknowledge the stressors in people's lives and strive to provide positive experiences.
  • Engaging partners and participants: Our success in engaging partners and participants lies in leveraging established networks and relationships. By actively seeking opportunities and putting ourselves out there, we can build meaningful connections.
  • Surprises along the way: Throughout our journey, we have been consistently surprised by what we have discovered. The reach and degree of flux and diversity in some places have exceeded our expectations, offering new perspectives and opportunities.

Sharing our learning with each other and the wider local and national community is integral to this Programme. As we are now entering the second year of the Bringing People Together Learning Partnership, projects are trialling new activities, connecting with colleagues across the UK, and experimenting with innovative approaches.

As we look to the future, we reflect on how the network might evolve in the coming year. We aim to deepen our impact, share more learning and integrate new projects that build upon the knowledge gained during the first year. Our focus will be on embedding and sustaining what works to ensure long-term positive change.

For further details and an overview of our first-year progress, please refer to our First Year Report or the Summary Report.

Helen Bown, Jane Carrier & Ewa Woodward

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