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Spotlight: Neighbourhood Fund

Last week, we announced the first five hyperlocal areas where we’ll support local communities to spend up to £1m to protect children from crime and violence through our place-based Neighbourhood Fund. We talk to Graeme Duncan, Chief Executive of Right to Succeed, about leading the Fund’s work in Norfolk.

What is Right to Succeed’s role in the Youth Endowment Fund’s Neighbourhood Fund?

“We’re one of the five community research and co-design partners, working on the first round of the YEF’s Neighbourhood Fund. It’s given us the opportunity to work with a new community – Norfolk in the first instance and now the Nelson ward in Great Yarmouth.

We always start by trying to understand where that community is right now, where it wants to go and how we can support them on that journey. Rather than trying to shoehorn pre-designed services or programmes, we look at everything that’s going on and what can be brought together and built upon.

A big part of our role is building on the services and ways of working that are already supporting a community. For example, Nelson have been investing in an Early Help Hub approach, which brings together a lot of public sector services and community sector organisations. Our job is to ask: How can we supercharge that? How can we make it as structured and efficient as possible? Can we strengthen their shared measurement framework, so they know if things are progressing in the way they want?

It’s more efficient because it’s starting from where the community is at, centred around their needs and brings people out of their individual silos to work together.”

How have local authorities and communities been involved so far?

“We’ve been working closely with Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Constabulary and Great Yarmouth Borough Council during the first stage of the project in Norfolk, and they’ll remain central to the project throughout. The early stages of place-based work are fundamentally important. Sometimes people want to jump straight into delivery. But what people say they want or need at the beginning of the process is often very different to the consensus reached at the end of community consultation. So, it’s important to take time to bring together different stakeholders and make sure everyone’s voice is heard.

When you first start to work with a community, you’re trying to get a sense of how well the local systems work together. We’re very fortunate that in Norfolk there’s a lot of collaborative working between the major public services. They had already established a Vulnerable Adolescent Group, which was the obvious place for us to plug into. It brings together key stakeholders across public sector services and the community sector to look at the issues facing vulnerable children and young people across the county.”

Nelson in Great Yarmouth has been identified as one of the five hyperlocal areas to benefit from the YEF’s Neighbourhood Fund. How and why was this area chosen?

“We agreed a set of principles with the Vulnerable Adolescents Group on how we’d identify and narrow down the communities across Norfolk which would benefit most from the YEF’s Neighbourhood Fund.  In the first instance, we did an extremely detailed piece of data work – in collaboration with the Borough Council, local constabulary and children and families’ services – to identify areas in the bottom 10% of Indices of Multiple Deprivation and where there were significant numbers of children becoming involved in crime or victims of crime.

The other principles were focused on the community itself and speaking to stakeholders on the ground to get a better understanding of the insights brought to light by the data analysis. We were looking for places that had a clear local identity where you could build a shared vision for that community. And areas that didn’t have any pre-existing or overlapping initiatives which might risk us replicating work or inadvertently competing with them.”

What’s next for the project?

“Following our work with local partners to select Nelson as the place in Norfolk to benefit from the YEF’s Neighbourhood Fund, we’re now talking with local people to understand what’s important to them and their wider community to improve opportunities for young people. We’ll be running various consultation activities, including surveys, group workshops, focus groups and creative exploration with children and young people. We want to find out from residents and young people what’s working well in school, at home and in the community; what they’d like to see change; and what might help or hinder progress.

A lot of people will have a very clear view in their minds as to what the future needs to be for Nelson. This stage is about moving together towards a consensus as to what the priorities are and what the shared measures of success will be. For example, what are the key activities that will reinforce each other and drive this community forwards? How can the communications be done effectively, so everybody can both be heard and hear what others have to say?

What have you learned so far from your work on the Neighbourhood Fund?

“We’ve learned a lot about county-level collaboration and what can actually be done on the data. We were very fortunate that in Norfolk all the data holders knew exactly what they could and couldn’t do. As a result, we’re now able to undertake an extremely deep and detailed analysis on Nelson, which will aid those working with this community – particularly public sector workers – to be hyper-targeted in the way they do multidisciplinary support of certain families.

There’s been some comprehensive data work early on and it’s emphasised the importance of this community-led, place-based model. Out of this will come a huge amount of learning about how this could be done more broadly. Not just for the YEF, but how other funders and commissioners think about resourcing the early discovery work that enables a community to be really clear about how it’s going to move forward and what those key priorities are.”

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