During the COVID-19 crisis, councils and Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) organisations have collaborated with transparency and pace not commonly seen before to provide vital support services to those in need. In recent months, these valuable partnerships also highlighted the barriers to more effective, cross-agency working.
How can we overcome the data sharing challenges between councils and the VCS that stop organisations being able to find and provide residents the right support when they need it?
Community insights projects
From COVID’s first wave, many local authorities and those in the VCS have recognised the importance of new agile ways of working. Bringing the organisations in our local places together, we can combine strengths, skills and capacity to address shared ‘blindspots’ in our communities by planning, interpreting and responding as one. The challenge now lies in sustaining this shift.
Working with a partnership of London Borough of Camden and Central Bedfordshire Council, alongside LOTI and the GLA, local VCS and data experts in these areas, we’ve co-designed the concept of community insights projects as a way to build new relationships and bring the power of qualitative and quantitative data together.
Community insights projects bring together VCS staff and council data experts to explore how different types of quantitative and qualitative data can be used to deliver better support to residents during the pandemic and beyond.
Community insights projects are one way to make sure we take forward what’s worked well and what hasn’t around data and information sharing. This new approach to solving local problems allows organisations to cooperate more closely, finding the value within the data each holds. The initiative is about everyone giving and getting in return, with resident lives at the centre.
The next few months provide a unique window of opportunity to make progress. Our friends at Camden and Central Bedfordshire, supported by LOTI, will be testing community insights projects as a core part of the joint COVID response between councils and the VCS. For Camden, this means establishing a new way of working, and for Central Bedfordshire, it represents the next evolution to existing relationships.