What can a business contribute to a Community Development conference?
Here at Southmedia we love to harp on about #CommunityWeb, #EthicalDigital and all other such socially-minded sentiments which fit neatly into hashtags. But it’s worth mentioning that we take our commitment to being an ‘ethical’ digital agency seriously, and so on Wednesday 11th November, I took a daytrip to Voscur‘s ‘Talking about Regeneration‘ event. Here are a few thoughts on why a business employee would bother going to a community development conference, and what I think Southmedia and all businesses can bring to the conversation:
Understanding the issues in our city
The point of the event, to increase collaboration and create a united vision as a city, mu<a href="https://i2.wp viagra vendre montreal.com/www.southmedia.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/photo-2.jpg”>st include businesses. This is especially true with current government’s ‘Get back to work’ theory of change – helping the poorest in our city cope with the impending changes linked to Universal Credit it going to require significant co-working with businesses to create accessible entry-level jobs (the apprenticeship offered by Buzz Lockleaze serves as an excellent example). For businesses to provide these, they must in turn attend these sorts of events to understand the needs and assets of their locale. As a bit of an amateur community development enthusiast, I enjoyed seeing how my current comm-dev theory favourite, Co-Production, is being implemented in development practice across the board. The skill and wisdom with which community development practitioners are engaging residents and enabling their own assets and skills to provide resident-centric solutions was impressive and inspiring to hear.
Becoming part of a local strategy
Local plans are becoming increasingly important to provide areas with a central focus for development and avoid competition and unnecessary duplication from local agencies. I enjoyed hearing about the success of coherent ones developed and implemented in Southmead and Lawrence Weston. Alex Kittow of the Southmead Development Trust explained how Southmedia has been involved in Southmead’s plan from the beginning, providing pro bono support and arguably increasing one of Go Green/Bristol Green Capital’s favourite buzzwords, ‘resilience’, by providing a trusted source of connectivity in a climate where the average person’s level of online expertise makes them vulnerable to substandard, or over-priced, web services. I hope other businesses will follow suite and become intrinsic parts of community plans.
Understanding the impact we can have as a business, in and outside of the workplace
It was great to see cross-pollination of ideas between the private, public and charity sector. Southmedia claims to be a business who “measure our success by the impact we make on the world around us, not just our bank balance”, who are “a group of people who desire to live out different types of business values, working towards a services sector with integrity”. So, we need to have employees who understand what a positive impact is, and how the public-private services sector is functioning. Within our employees we can boast a North Bristol Foodbank manager, community house lead, Ethishop.com founder, and North Bristol Advice Centre volunteer – positions which allow us to understand societal issues from a wide range of lenses, and adjust our business practice accordingly. Staying up to date with the role of all stakeholders in community development will help us continue to best target our pro bono efforts, and the out-of-work endeavours of our staff.
So, how will we respond to what we learnt at the conference and continue to contribute to our local area?
-Continue to work with the Southmead Development Trust on various digital projects including a new app for the area
-Keep offering competitively-priced web services to the amazing Third Sector clients who walk through our doors, in packages tailor-made for their needs. We’re always keen to hear from new charities with new online challenges!
-Partner with Social Enterprise Works to provide bespoke web services to support Social Enterprises and socially-minded Start-Ups in Bristol, which were cited as a key part of Bristol’s development strategy according to Bristol City Council’s Alistair Reid.
-Keep our eyes out for opportunities to continue providing connectivity, resilience, training and support for community services in Southmead.
…and we’ve got a couple of other exciting projects up our sleeve which we can’t quite reveal yet!
If you’ve enjoyed reading this and have any ideas on how else we could get involved in community development as a business, tweet us about it. And if you’ve just enjoyed reading this… give us a retweet!