Goals 2014: 3 Questions To Help Manage Community First Panel Legacies

Community First Money

What Community First Funding Meant To One Ward In Year 1 And 2

Are you familiar with the concept of a Community First panel? 

If the answer is, ‘No’, here’s a brief explanation from my perspective, as a former panel chair.

‘Community First’ is the government’s neighbourhood improvement programme, running in England between 2012 and 2015.  The programme’s goal is to make funding available via a residents’ panel to not-for-profit organisations.  Those organisations will improve the quality of life in disadvantaged wards.

I think this approach could actually form the blue print for a future government wanting to devolve additional voluntary funding down to local communities via resident led panels.  That will depend on the panels functioning effectively, like the best project teams do.  The panels will still require thoughtful leadership and the input of skilled and confident volunteers.  Their legacy will involve changing the face of their neighbourhood.  A little work is necessary now to help make that legacy possible.

What are the panels doing at the moment?

As I write this post, residents‘ panels are deciding which local projects should receive a share of the final year of funding starting from April 2014.  The clock is ticking though, as panels need to submit their decisions to the government’s key delivery partner (the Community Development Foundation or CDF) by the end of March.

Local panels are a key part of the community based process, while other bodies have an overview of the bigger picture:  CDF is one of those bodies; Ipsos Mori the market research company is too, having evaluated the programme’s outcomes last year; the Young Foundation  is also an external partner supporting panels’ learning processes.

Which questions can the panel answer to help produce better future results?

Any project can benefit from holding a lessons learned exercise.  This exercise can provide valuable information to be used the next time similar work is commissioned.  I think the Young Foundation should encourage the panels to hold such an exercise and provide the answers to three questions this year.  This action forms a key part of the process of securing Community First’s panel legacy:

  • Which of the panel’s skills produced the bulk of the panel’s results?
  • What skills did the panel lack?
  • How could the panel produce even better results for their community if funding was available after 2015?

Answers to those questions should build up a picture of how panels produced good quality timely results, in a tough financial climate, and with limited volunteer resources.  Knowledge or skills gaps can then be filled by coaching or by mentoring.  Mapping that legacy now will also be invaluable if better results are expected from similar panels, by a future government.

Where can I find more information?

You can see some tweets about the programme from CDF, panels, and funded projects on Twitter if you use he #commfirst hashtag.

Click on the Podcasts tab above to listen to some questions you can answer to help you lead a panel (or a voluntary project) more easily.

Feel free to check out the Archive section for more thoughts on work and life goals.  There are further ideas relating to your work and life goals on Facebook and Google+ too

Thin Blue Line


Police Line (c) R Dennison June 2013

Police Line (c) R Dennison June 2013

Job satisfaction is important for most people, whether that is happiness for 40 hours a week, or during their shifts spread over a nine day fortnight.  If one’s goal is job satisfaction and that goal has been attained the world is a sunnier place.  Perhaps one might even say customers are satisfied interacting with happy workers, who in turn are able to enjoy life outside work.

Many people are not that lucky in their work.  According to its website there will be more than 31,000 officers and recruits in the Metropolitan Police Service in 2013/14.  From the customers’ perspective their mission to deliver Total Policing surely depends, in part, on job satisfaction and on all of the staff respecting the public and each other.

An easy milestone to reach would be ensuring the organisational culture support a goal in which ‘colleagues respect one another’.  Kevin Maxwell’s situation suggests there is still some distance to go before that milestone is reached.

The former detective has been successful in pursuing Employment Tribunal cases against the Met, after raising concerns having experienced some colleagues’ racist and homophobic behaviour.

I guess large institutions contain diverse views and there are management challenges involved in establishing a basic set of acceptable language standards.

It may seem a small detail, given the hugely challenging operational agenda the Met delivers.  Yet getting the details right may make organisational cohesion and corporate delivery a little easier in the long run.



At Your (Civil) Service

English: Martin Donnelly, Permanent Secretary ...

English: Martin Donnelly, Permanent Secretary of the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills in the United Kingdom (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

UK public servants come in for some real stick.  Unfairly in my view.

Pay freezes, head count reduction and the relentless pressure of producing more results with less resources take their toll.  At least one civil service representative body, the Public and Commercial Services union – www.pcs.org.uk – seems set to ballot for strike action.

At least one central government permanent secretary (chief executive equivalent) has a job plan which includes doing something about that.


Martin Donnelly at the department for Business, Innovation and Skills has a job objective which includes improving outcomes amongst his middle managers and generally rewarding good performance in the organisation.

It must also be good for morale therefore to learn that David Cameron enjoys good relations with civil servants  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21009377 .

Armed with that reassurance it should be possible for organisational leaders to work with staff to identify some goals, including:

– their main goal for 2013 and how it benefits them individually + their stakeholders (including senior colleagues and, crucially, the politicians they answer to http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-21040142

– how to positively motivate stakeholders to pursue those gaols (Cabinet Office has some ideas though  http://blogs.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/behavioural-insights-team/2013/01/07/sticking-to-our-new-years-resolutions/

– gainging clarity on what ‘success’ looks like, will acquiring skills such as project planning and contract management be important across government, as the Public Accounts Committee chair, Margaret Hodge, suggested in December 2012? http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-20604173

Inside Out

According to government research, quoted by the Daily Mail recently, six out of ten offenders dealt with by the justice system return to crime within nine years.
Daily Mail coverage about tackling reoffending by mentoring

That must have a major impact on public finances (which bear the costs of policing and punishment); and peoples’ lives (both victims of crime and perpetrators).

No wonder then that acting for the government, Justice Secretary Chris Grayling is encouraging the growth of effective mentoring programmes, intended to keep ex-offenders from re-offending.  The Guardian newspaper documents the early stages of such a mentoring relationship.



http://openclipart.org/clipart/people/magnifying_glass_01.svg License: PublicDomain Keywords: people Author: AbiClipart Title: Magnifying Glass (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I believe that significant value could be added by skilled volunteers meeting the offender a year before their sentence ends and supporting them through establishing a coaching relationship.

The key would be the coach helping them look closely at the reality of their lives to date; identify positive future goals (in the same way that readers of Brian Tracy, Steven Covey, John Whitmore or Laura Berman-Fortgang would recognise); select the viable options they can pursue to attain them; develop the will take the first steps toward their future.

Undertaking that journey would establish strong foundations on which mentors and other positive external influencers could build, after release.

Hopefully mentoring is only one of the strategies which the government is going to support, to help offenders better manage the transition from life inside to their future beyond crime.