Community Renewal Programme Management
Barnsley MBC had bid for £2.3m funding from the Government’s Community Renewal Fund to deliver an innovative programme of interventions to help communities recover from the impact of COVID-19 and build back better, aligned to the Sheffield City Region’s priorities for economic growth and the council’s Place of Possibilities strategy.
The aspiration was to create a programme that directly worked with communities to understand what good growth means to the local area. This understanding would then help delivery partners remove the barriers to employment and growth to enable businesses to flourish, creating good quality skills and employment opportunities that all residents can access. At the same time, the council wanted to make a step-change in how it worked with partners, moving from traditional models of consultation and engagement to genuine co-production and partnerships.
Ultimately, the council and partners wanted to use the learning from this programme to review and refine the delivery model across the Borough and the Sheffield City Region. This stood out as an innovative and creative solution which put communities at the heart of achievable and sustainable renewal.
After a later-than-expected funding announcement from Government, the Human Engine team worked at pace with the council and partners to rapidly set up the programme management office (PMO) and mobilise projects for delivery. Following a speedy and successful mobilisation, we are now working with partners to deliver 20 projects throughout their full lifecycle, from mobilisation to conclusion, supported by a full suite of programme management tools, including a tailored balanced scorecard for senior stakeholders to use to track project progress, financials, risk and programme benefits.
The team is also leading stakeholder engagement and management across a diverse set of delivery partners. This includes working with South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, Housing Associations, not-for-profit business growth hubs, the local Chamber of Commerce, private contractors and consultants, the voluntary and community sector and colleagues across different council departments.
The £2.3m programme comprises 20 projects across 4 thematic workstreams:
Supporting Businesses: projects that champion net-zero business plans; local business travel plans; business start-up; and tailored business grants.
Communities and Place: projects that engage and listen to seldom-heard cohorts across the community; deliver free broadband, equipment and training to social housing tenants; and co-delivered Public Arts initiatives with vulnerable sectors of society.
Supporting People into Employment: projects that listen and co-design interventions for the individual and provide skills opportunities; initiatives that allow individuals to ‘dip-their-toe’ into new career pathways; providing free public transport opportunities.
Investment in Skills: projects that provide school-age children with access to career pathways and to develop high-employability skills for the future including cyber security; projects that allow the working-age population to build digital, creative and public art skills.
Upon commencing the programme, the Human Engine team completed our mobilisation checklist to swiftly move the programme forward. This included meeting with key stakeholders to fully understand programme requirements from their perspective, including both hard and soft objectives. In addition to this, we delivered drop-in sessions for all project leads and stakeholders across the programme (approximately 40 stakeholders from partner organisations across the region).
Once initial ‘lay of the land’ activities were complete, the team established clear governance and reporting arrangements and built a programme management and reporting framework that was both flexible and cohesive, allowing each project to deliver against its agreed objectives, but with a centrally managed communications and delivery plan.
The team undertook project initiation activities with each of the project leads through compiling project initiation documents, project plans (that fed the overall programme plan), benefit realisation plans and resource forecasts. This documentation was critical in securing the delivery partner agreements with external delivery agencies and has been used to develop the balanced scorecard to show an overview of the programme as a one-page dashboard.
The Human Engine team has planned a mid-programme conference, bringing together all stakeholders and agencies involved in the programme together to share best practice and share lessons learned which can positively influence the second half of the programme.
Measuring the Outcomes
The success of the programme will be measured by achieving the following outcomes by June 2022:
An increase in people in education and training
An increase in people engaged in life skills
An increase in people engaged in job searching
A total of nearly 2,000 engagements with economically inactive participants
The creation of Business Innovation Plans and Decarbonisation action plans
An increase in new businesses created
An increase in the number of businesses supported
An increase in the amount of inward investment attracted
We are also capturing wider benefits and opportunities through qualitative analysis, participant feedback and locally driven insight. This will allow key findings and lessons learned from the programme to be incorporated into future initiatives, to ensure maximum return on investment. This includes:
Building a rich picture of understanding – identifying barriers to engagement and how to overcome these with hard-to-reach groups for future programmes of employment and wellbeing support
An increase in the number of people engaged in their communities and contributing to local activities and initiatives
An objective assessment of the pilot co-production model and the practical steps needed to scale-up community engagement programmes across Barnsley’s communities
Human Engine is a Financial Times top-ranked management consultancy with specialisms in strategy, people and performance.
It was founded by a group of former local government officers who think the public sector deserves better than it gets from traditional consulting firms – more human, more personal and more knowledgeable of the reality of delivering modern public services.
We have worked with dozens of public sector organisations to help transform their strategies, operations and cultures to be more agile, commercial and entrepreneurial in order to achieve financial sustainability and improved outcomes for local people and communities.
We are currently writing our latest report, The Commercial Edge, in partnership with leading think tank Localis, making the case for entrepreneurialism in public services and local investment as a catalyst for economic recovery and growth.