Description of Activities
1) Research synergies and emerging themes (Web-based academic seminar, March 2012)
This will involve a dialogue between academic researchers on the four existing awards and IPPRNorth via a web-based seminar. It will give us the opportunity to compare and contrast the findings from the existing projects, to identify areas of commonality and any conflicting findings, and to develop future research directions and priorities. It will also enable us to share and distil findings from our current projects in ways that address the workshop and symposium theme of citizen-state relationships under austerity.
2) Citizen - State Relations in a Time of Austerity (Practitioner workshop: Newcastle, April 2012)
We will organise a two-day workshop to bring together participants from the four collaborating projects, IPPRNorth, third sector representatives and community practitioners. The workshop will disseminate and share the findings from our current research projects in relation to the different policy directions affecting citizen-state relationships in Scotland and England. Invited grassroots practitioners from Scotland and England will provide short case studies on how current community empowerment and co-production initiatives are being rolled out and give their insights on the academic evidence we present on the effects of these differing approaches in terms of quality of public services and community outcomes.
3) Action Research and Learning Network (May - August 2012)
This will bring together community organisations and organisers with academics, other researchers (including IPPR), umbrella organisations such as the Local Government Organisation (LGA) Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (COSLA), Scottish Council for Voluntary Organisations (SCVO), Association for Public Service Excellence (APSE), Voluntary Organisations Network North East (VONNE) Scottish Community Development Centre (SCDC), Scottish Community Alliance (SCA), Catalyst Stockton upon Tees, Scotland’s Independent Regeneration Network (SURF), Scottish Community Alliance(SCA), Locality, North East regional Refugee Forum (RRF), Newcastle Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) and Citizens UK (see attachments for letters of support). A network co-ordinator will work part time over four months to actively build the network via a dedicated website and social networking tools such as an online blog, Facebook and Twitter. The co-ordinator will also collect stories from frontline activists and practitioners and umbrella groups in relation to their experiences of the changing funding landscape for community empowerment. The network website will host these stories as podcasts / blog entries in order to provide valuable first hand insight into re-configured state-society expectations in a time of austerity. The website will also host podcasts from the practitioner workshop and policy symposium.
4) Fostering Citizen - State Relations in a Time of Austerity: An Anglo - Scottish Conversation (Policy Symposium, COSLA Conference Centre, Edinburgh, November 2012)
The symposium will host an Anglo - Scottish conversation on the changing nature of citizen - state relations and will address the following questions:
- What are the similarities and differences in policy approach between England and Scotland in relation to community empowerment?
- What are the intellectual roots of these divergences and to what extent are they evidence-based?
- Who are the significant ‘agents’ in fostering community action, community empowerment and participation and to what extent have these been influenced by the differing policy contexts?
- What and how can we learn from divergent approaches in England and Scotland?
The event will bring together the current award holders, invited policymakers from Scotland and England, representatives from key stakeholder organisations such as the COSLA, LGA, VONNE, SCVO, APSE and Citizens UK. The stakeholders will provide commentary on the academic perspectives and work together to develop an outline set of lessons emerging from the contrasting approaches in the two nations. It will form a platform for sharing and triangulating the different knowledges about how state-society relations are being changed in light of the ‘Big Society’ agenda in England and the Community Empowerment Bill in Scotland.