It’s almost 10 years since I moved from Manchester to start a new life in the South West with my family.
I’ve spent time all over the region since 2010, working in every county. I love its culture, quality of life and the opportunities it has offered us.
The South West is an area of contrasts. It’s largely rural, with successful and sought-after cities like Exeter, Bath and Bristol. These cities are brilliant places to live and work, if you have the skills and experience to find employment there – and can afford somewhere to live.
Somerset, where I live, highlights the region’s contrasts. Many people know the county for Glastonbury festival and Europe’s largest construction project at Hinkley Point C, which is worth £50bn to the region over the coming decades. These are very different things, which together make Somerset an attractive destination for many.
There’s shed loads happening here, and we’re proud to play a part in some of this at Social since we set up in the South West. We’ve supported major developments in Bristol and Gloucester. And we helped the region’s nuclear industry raise its national and international profile.
It’s difficult to know if things would be better for us if we lived elsewhere. But, of all the places I’ve lived and worked, I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else.
Continue reading “The South West somehow needs to find its voice – and fast”
Calls for ‘collaboration’ across the housing sector are hitting high levels. I have attended conferences recently at which panelists have insisted that collaboration is key to our future. At one event covering areas ranging from the performance of office buildings to the future of cities, speakers used the phrase six times in an hour.
Articles and blog posts stressing its importance are abundant. Google ‘collaboration and housing’ to see for yourself. And local and national government call for a collaborative approach from employees and partners. This can sometimes feel like a call for inspiration.
Meaning of collaboration
In an era of networks, for an industry that has thrived on partnership working, this makes sense. The challenges facing the sector are too big for any organisation to face alone. Those that work together stand a better chance of success.
It is difficult for anyone who works in the sector to argue against this sentiment. But defining good practice in this area – let along making it work – is more challenging. Statements like ‘collaboration is key’ are often used without any sign of how this could happen.
Collaboration between organisations frequently misses the input of the communities or people affected by what they are trying to achieve. And conflict seems built into the system, with some groups feeling their views are ignored. When this happens, positions become entrenched and delivery can grind to a halt.
If we are to benefit from a collaborative approach, there needs to be wide understanding of what good collaboration looks like. And organisations must prepare to change mindsets and structures to embrace it.
Continue reading “Collaboration: more than a buzzword”
With all that’s happened since June, it’s easy to forget that there’s a big decision ahead about how the West of England runs its affairs.
The devolution deal for ‘greater Bristol’ won’t set most people’s pulses racing. But ask those who live and work here what’s important to them and many will say housing, transport, education, jobs or a combination of the above. As it happens, the West of England’s deal is geared towards addressing all of these issues.
On the table is £1bn to invest over 30 years in housing, transport and skills. Post #EUref, when ‘taking back control’ swayed views about our country’s future, handing responsibility for these issues to local areas seems an obvious step.
It’s probably worth five minutes’ of everyone’s time in the scheme of things.
Continue reading “Talking about our devolution: what people told us about the deal”
I was fascinated to read South West CIPR chair Sarah Pinch’s recent blog post about a campaign which has started since the terrible weather we’ve endured propelled the South West into the headlines.
Sarah is calling for support for a Twitter campaign started by Maureen McAllister using the hashtag #openforbusiness to highlight the fact that life is continuing here, despite the deluge.
It has generated traction with people, businesses and media organisations from across the South West using it to remind people that the region is not completely cut off by the elements. I had a look at some results generated by up to 2,000 tweets on the topic using the tool Tweetbinder, which can be used analyse hashtags used in campaigns. Have a look at the dashboard and some of the stats, which includes some data on reach, influence and original tweets and content (as opposed to retweets and ‘noise’).
Here’s another blog post from another comms professional who has helped the campaign recently. Good to see people taking some positive steps to support the South West. I’ll be offering my support to see if it can make a difference.