Today we're announcing the Connected Communities Innovation Fund grantees, with our partners the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport. All of the 16 grantees are seeking to promote social action alongside public service outcomes to offer rewarding opportunities to help others.
This is based on our ongoing work in people power, building the evidence and case for more open public services that have mobilisation of people as their core organising principle. This can augment public services to reach people and places that public services cannot reach, and fundamentally change the way we respond to social needs and challenges.
Nesta have a broad conception of what social action means: from formalised volunteering placements, to light touch volunteering, or people helping people. This is to reflect the modern face of how people give their time and the myriad ways people do help others.
As a society, we face public problems and shared challenges; to find solutions to these public problems therefore requires working together in new ways, bringing together the collective intelligence of citizens and state
We are seeking to find the balance where people and places are enabled to thrive, where the nuance of individual community needs are appreciated, and individuals giving their time feel their own sense of reward or purpose. Where rather than shifting the burden of public services to citizens, power is shifted towards citizens in a way in which they can and want to genuinely engage with to enhance societal outcomes for all.
Take In2science, this programme seeks to increase young people’s science capital (for example through work experiences, knowledge, role models and high quality science career guidance) by harnessing the passion and expertise of professionals in the science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) sectors. This delivers experience of the STEM professions and raises aspirations among young people in a way which public servants would not be well suited to replicating.
Neighbourhood Watch Network are responding to the greater risk of fraud among older people and the lack of reporting of fraudulent incidents by trialling community-based solutions. They are seeking to reduce fraud risks by: enhancing the knowledge of their existing volunteer network about how to prevent fraud, encouraging increased neighbourliness where a culture of people helping each other safeguards against fraudsters taking advantage of others, and spreading messages to the wider community to prevent incidents but also increase fraud reporting when an incident does happen, thereby enabling the police and other public services to respond effectively.
The Restart Project are furthering community-based local action to prevent electronic waste and change the way people consume electronics (buying less electronics in general, and buying more repairable electronics). They are doing this by hosting 'Restart Parties', where volunteers help to repair electronic devices and upskill others in how to repair their own electronics.
Four of the Connected Communities Innovation Fund grantees, from across the public and charity sectors, are focussing on innovations that enhance community resilience in emergencies and significant incidents. These innovations seek to work with, rather than replace, statutory responses; drawing on the incredible generosity and will to volunteer of citizens - so often seen in crisis situations - to enable communities to prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.