Local people are working together in Gateshead to build power and capacity at the heart of communities
Gateshead is one of the five places in which Lankelly Chase invests as part of its place-based inquiry.
Since initial conversations with Lankelly in Autumn 2019, we have gradually developed and extended our focus, learning more about the everyday lives and experiences of people in Gateshead, and deepening our understanding of the systems that perpetuate marginalisation and exclusion.
In July 2020, Gateshead adopted a devolved decision-making approach that handed decision-making authority for how to use Lankelly Chase funding to a locally-based group. The Gateshead Coordination Team (as it is currently known) emerged. This is a group that draws upon the varied experiences of people working across the Gateshead area from different sectors, organisations, and local communities to run ‘system change experiments’ where the focus is on learning rather than any specific outputs or outcomes. We have adopted a wide range of approaches aimed at better seeing and unpacking systemic inequalities, resulting in a number of projects/inquiries since this work commenced.
Rich Gibbons, Transmit Enterprise/Gateshead Coordination Team
Click on the ‘learn about the work’ tab to read on.
We are a group of people who live in Gateshead and who want to do something to make life better here.
We first came together to try to understand the issues and challenges that people face in our area – challenges that all of us might have experienced in our own lives. We want to help to stop the same issues come up over and over again for people in Gateshead. We want to make changes.
These may be changes we make in our own lives, changes in what local support organisations are doing, changes in what the local authority is doing, or other things we don’t even know about yet.
System mapping is the process we have used to dig beneath the symptomatic issues that we often get bogged down in when we focus on delivering services/support; poor mental or physical health, isolation, addiction, homelessness, etc. The reality is that underlying these issues are usually many contributing factors that shape how we experience life. These are found in our own stories; in the things people feel are most important in their lives and that they feel most invested in.
So that is where we started. We collected stories from people in Gateshead about their lives and the things they feel are important. Based on these stories, we made a map of the different challenges and obstacles people are facing, and the things that have helped them. This was based upon causality; how one thing in our life often leads onto other things happening, and how this can create patterns that cycle back and reinforce/deepen the issues previously mentioned. The map has helped us to identify these sticking points that many people share. For example, how people feel lost and in limbo when awaiting help from mental health services, or the lack of support and information asylum seekers/refugees get when they first arrive in Gateshead.
We have now set up some groups to learn more about these sticking points and issues, and the underlying causes. These are called ‘action research’ groups because we are finding out more information, and we also want to take some actions to bring about changes. We have some funding to help us take some actions, when we are ready, and we are asking people that experience these issues themselves to work alongside us, because we know they have new knowledge and ideas that can help us to understand the issues better. Together, we hope to learn more about the issues, decide on some actions that we think would make a difference, and try them out.
Rich Gibbons and Jo Howard
Check out some of the events coming up as part of our Gateshead week.
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