The Prospects Trust is a well-established local charity working with people who have learning disabilities. They provide training and work opportunities in horticulture, organic market gardening, and off-site garden services. They were one of the runners-up in the National Lottery ‘People’s Millions’ competition in 2013.
Recent years have seen the Trust grow, not least in the number of co-workers assisted by personal support workers. The time was right in Autumn 2013 for staff and trustees to come together for a strategy workshop facilitated by Derrick Johnstone. Participants took stock of the current position of the Trust and its ethos, and considered its future direction as a social enterprise. Actions agreed included steps to strengthen business development and people management functions, necessary given the Trust’s expansion, and to provide greater opportunities for support workers to progress.
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Derrick Johnstone facilitated a development day for the Essex OnLine Partnership (EOLP), which brings together the IT teams across the Essex local authorities, Police and Fire to reduce costs, improve information management and develop the quality of IT services. The Partnership has evolved significantly over the years and brought substantial value for its members through cost savings and other benefits, eg, in shared learning and a national profile. The timing of the event was significant: EOLP had reached a crossroads in its development, with questions about the future, about the Partnership’s focus and what will bind partner commitment.
Participants reaffirmed the purpose of EOLP and agreed steps to strengthen collaboration, including work on the next generation of IT infrastructure, recruitment of a new partnership manager, and more concerted action to capture and publicise Partnership impact and benefits. Other themes included the scope to make more of the combined staff resource across the partner authorities and the need for a greater focus on the ‘I’ in IT, as partner organisations seek to gain more from their information assets.
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Educe facilitated a range of learning and networking activities on worklessness in the West Midlands, funded by DWP and CLG through Improvement and Efficiency West Midlands (IEWM). The programme ran between September 2009 and October 2010, and sought to:
- review learning and organisational development needs in tackling worklessness and impact
- assist partnerships and practitioners developing the Future Jobs Fund, Work and Skills Plans and City Region planning on employment and skills
- promote customer-focused innovation
- help strengthen evaluation evidence and the transfer of effective practice
- organising a regional conference, ‘Tackling Worklessness in an Age of Austerity’ (July 2010) to establish what ‘Total Place’ (TP) means in tackling worklessness, what can be learnt from the TP pilots and relevant experience in the region (featuring Birmingham, Wolverhampton and Worcestershire), and what actions are needed to drive greater impact and efficiency
- providing advisory support for the City Region MAA Employment and Skills Plan on the evidence base, data sharing, planning, commissioning, and engagement of ‘wraparound services’ (especially health and housing) alongside mainstream employment and skills delivery
- facilitating a regional Future Jobs Fund (FJF) network bringing together local authorities, voluntary organisations and social enterprises with contracts to deliver FJF in the region.
Derrick Johnstone also ran a series of four workshops to support the preparation of Local Economic Assessments in the region, on themes of Worklessness; Sustainable Economic Prosperity; and Forecasts and Scenarios. These were promoted by West Midlands Leaders Board, REDOG (the Regional Economic Development Officers Group) and IEWM.Other elements of the worklessness network programme included:
- Good Practice Review: pilot project being undertaken by RegenWM to work with practitioners to gather evidence of good practice in removing barriers to employment and increasing outcomes for particular groups, and how best to spread and embed ‘what works’.
- Cannock Chase ‘demonstration project’ which has brought local partners together to use customer insight techniques to improve multi-agency service delivery.
- evaluating-cost-effectiveness-of-worklessness-interventions: literature review and guidance prepared by West Midlands Regional Observatory
The programme was shaped by a regional steering group and linked in to the West Midlands Economic Inclusion Panel.
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We were invited by Dudley Community Partnership in the Black Country to facilitate a ‘Recession Summit’ which drew together local partners to discuss the impact of the recession on the borough and appropriate responses, both short term and longer term. This led to the setting up of a task group, an action plan, and a request to Educe to facilitate a meeting between the local authority and bank representatives to explore the scope for collaboration.Derrick Johnstone was subsequently asked to facilitate a ‘Recovery Summit’ in December 2009, inputting on good practice in other areas and helping to draw together the next phase of partner action planning.
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Educe Director, Derrick Johnstone was recruited as a member of the national panel of Local Improvement Advisors
, specialising in leadership and partnership development, performance improvement, local economy/worklessness and data sharing.Support from LIAs was available through Improvement and Efficiency Partnerships to support local authorities and Local Strategic Partnerships in improving public services and gaining efficiencies.Assignments between 2009 and 2011 included:
- data sharing to tackle worklessness: CLG/DWP pilot programme with Kent, Leeds and Liverpool
- review of regional research and intelligence capacity in the East Midlands, and subsequent role in support of a follow-up regional project on customer insight and research (for the East Midlands Improvement and Efficiency Partnership)
- locality working in West Cumbria (for Allerdale, Copeland and Cumbria local authorities)
- workshop facilitation to review progress by national partner organisations on recommendations made by the ‘Supporting Local Information and Research’ report (for CLG)
- research into the use and impact of Working Neighbourhoods Fund (for CLG)
- Customer Insight Skills Audit, for Humber Innovation Partnership
- advising on the development of the Doncaster Work and Skills Plan
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Derrick Johnstone was a member of Inspire East’s Enabling Panel between 2008 and 2010, providing IE’s Enabling Service
. This offered independent advice and guidance to sustainable communities projects to help them overcome difficult issues and improve results, especially through involvement at critical early stages in project lifecycles.Enablers were drawn from a range of professional backgrounds with specialist expertise to offer.
Their role was, for example, to assist local partners in developing a project brief; advising on procurement or project set-up, or providing guidance and help where a project may have stalled. Enablers were expected to help the local ‘client’ progress the project, rather than actually undertaking those tasks on their behalf. One assignment involved Derrick working with Richard King to assist Southend partners take stock of their aspirations for a regeneration project near the town centre, their requirements, discuss and agree actions needed deliver a mutually acceptable and affordable scheme.
Inspire East have published a legacy document
which illustrates the number and range of schemes that have received help from these services and capture what has been learned by those who have been involved, the experience of panel members and the feedback from users.
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