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A note from Nick
It’s all about the relationships
Hello and thank you so much for checking out this month’s newsletter. As usual we hope you find this packed with rich and useful information, and interesting updates about the world of Local Area Coordination. My thanks as always to my brilliant colleague Rachel for putting this together so beautifully.
This month we continue our exploration into the 10 principles of Local Area Coordination with the turn of “relationships”.
“Local Area Coordination is all about the relationships.” This was one of the first statements I heard when I started in my role almost 3 years ago. In this instance, it was shared by Neil Woodhead, Derby’s brilliant Local Area Coordination Manager as part of my induction. As those weeks went by for me, I recognised the statement was a familiar refrain across our Network. It was definitely not a glib throwaway soundbite or even something aspirational, but rather a genuine and I believe really radical principle on which Local Area Coordination operates.
I found that whilst the relationship between the Local Area Coordinator and the people and families they were alongside was deeply cherished, so too were the relationships in all sorts of other directions. For example, the relationship between Coordinators and the local people involved in groups, associations, faith groups and charities. Equally, the relationship between Local Area Coordination as an approach and the wider service system in which it operates was important too, offering insights and opportunity for bringing about reform.
To me it appears that the radical nature of working in a relational way is not the behaviour itself, but rather the design features, principles and approach that need to be embraced and implemented carefully in order to allow Local Area Coordinators to be humans in their work. Having the space to be ourselves and to form positive relationships of trust with those we are alongside is something that we routinely design out of our roles. Local Area Coordination offers compelling evidence that by focussing on relationships, people and places, we can indeed model a very different approach to our current public services system.
I will leave you with this. At the Local Area Coordination conference at the end of 2020, David Robinson, founder of the incredible Relationships Project, and a well-respected and hugely valued thought leader on this topic, was kind enough to share his reflections on this principle. Reflecting back on what he shared almost a year ago, this bit really struck me.
“In 2021 I think there will be a great impatience to return to normal, whatever that might mean. Last summer (2020), we got a foretaste of what that might look like. In many areas as lockdown was released, there was a rush to return to past patterns. We saw, particularly local authorities eager to embrace some of the learning, but to squeeze that learning into existing systems and structures. We need to learn a lesson from that. We can be much braver and bolder in how we seek to change in 2021. Amidst the sadness and pain of recent weeks we have also had our best days when we have noticed one another as we seldom notice before.”