Blog: Pulling together the strings of Public Services, Communities, and Fellows at RSA Engage


  • Picture of Nick Parker FRSA
    Nick Parker FRSA
    Enabling leadership and change through creativity
  • Fellowship
  • Social innovation

Compering the RSA Engage Public Services and Communities event in London on July 6 made me realise just how active the Fellowship is in this domain, and punctuated my desire to find voice and recognition for similar projects that Fellows are involved in across the country and internationally.

The event had a great buzz of enthusiasm as everyone, not just the speakers, shared their common interests and explored their active or emerging projects and ideas. In my own discussions it soon became apparent how valuable the Fellowship network is. I pointed a non-academic towards a group that might enable her to do research as a stepping stone to a PhD, I steered a financier developing social impact bonds towards some delivery options, and others pitched and shared their connections in other ways.

Ian Spero spoke about his work on ageing well and the Long-Term Care Revolution - something he's keen to develop with other RSA Fellows (more info to come). That reminded me of the annual RESEC (research in elderly care) run by Fellow Saxon Spence, and an initiative by Fellow and health commissioner John Bryant where young people tend the gardens of the elderly - which addresses the older person's concerns of not being able to cope, getting stressed and becoming ill.

Maximillian Yoshioka spoke about the Heritage Competitiveness Index as part of the RSA's Heritage, Identity and Place project. Impeccable timing given that a prospective Fellow who leads an award winning museum outside London has asked to meet me next week to explore the value of heritage in enabling the local economy to prosper.

Ann Don Bosco spoke about Talk to Me London. Whilst it is most active in London at the moment it is hugely topical for the wider Fellowship, given that many see the RSA as ‘a crucible for dialogue’. (That was very apparent in the recent Fellow-led South West Futures initiative, which identified the need for the diverse mix of people in the region to talk and collaborate.)

Later Ann shared her experience of fundraising for Talk to Me through the RSA - including her crowdfunding story. Find out other ways that the RSA can support your projects.

Martin Wheatley shared his aspirations for social housing through the SHOUT (Campaign for Social Housing) programme. It's interesting that a major house builder is working with Fellows in Plymouth to support community and economic regeneration in a substantial redevelopment project and has expressed interest in replicating that elsewhere.

Steve Trevillion summarised his evolving Fellows' network for creativity in public services. This is a topic close to my heart as another Fellow and I have written a module for on creative leadership in the public services to be delivered at Bath Spa University in the autumn.

Mark Newman gave an overview of the Whole Person Recovery Programme as it reaches its conclusion - and is looking for input as it thrashes out its final ideas. Speak to Joanna Massie to find out more. There's strong correlation here with the work of Fellow Trevor Philpott around the rehabilitation of veterans in prison, and the work of Fellow Deborah Mitchell on restorative justice.

Ann Nkune talked about her project Bloomsbury Beginnings which is an incubator, workspace and crèche for entrepreneurial parents. There's learning here for Fellows involved in the Remake programme; maybe makers need a crèche too?

Finally Catherine Shovlin explained the journey travelled and future plans for the New Cross Learning Library which is run by volunteers. Elsewhere Fellows are actively involved in expanding the offer of library spaces, such as the inclusion of a FabLab at the refurbished library in Exeter.

This smattering of examples illustrates the huge impact and potential impact the Fellowship is having on societal change. We're looking to improve the way we share and talk about these projects - at the moment we haven't got a particularly clear route. Talk to me or your Regional Manager to explore more. Also maybe we could use MyRSA and the Fellowship Public Services Network on LinkedIn?

Some at the event asked about my own background - find out more on my profile.

We find Fellows through the info they include on their profiles - update yours to let us know your skills and interests. To find out more about the RSA's work in Public Services and Communities, contact Joanna Massie

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