The RSA in Wiltshire: testing community campuses

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The RSA is working with Wiltshire Council and its partners to create community campuses that bring public services and community facilities under one roof. RSA Wiltshire was launched at the West region’s Annual Conference last month, the involvement of the Fellowship is an integral part of this project. This is the first call for Fellows to get involved.

‘Community Campuses’ are multi-service hubs, designed and led by local communities. They will be home to a wide range of services, including leisure, police, library, GP and voluntary sector services as well as community facilities.

Campuses are about more than new buildings.  They are catalysts for new ideas, partnerships and relationships, particularly at the local level, where volunteers have formed Shadow Community Operations Boards to re-shape services.  Over the next three years, staff from the RSA’s Action Research Centre will be on the ground supporting this innovative programme. 

For campuses to fulfil their promise, they will need to draw on knowledge and skills within and beyond their communities.  We believe that RSA Fellows in and around Wiltshire could play a valuable role in making this possible.

Would you be willing to volunteer some of your time and expertise?  

If so, we invite you to sign up to the RSA’s Skillsbank. When registering, select ‘RSA Wiltshire’ in the Responding to a specific call section. Then, in the Interests section, indicate which of the following activities you feel you could contribute to:

  • Designing community engagement, market research or communication strategies.
  • Incubating social enterprises or public service spin outs.
  • Designing online service portals for complex services.
  • Advising on building design, with a focus on inclusion, access and flexibility.
  • Designing or running community trusts or similar vehicles.
  • Engaging with groups often termed ‘hard to reach’ – e.g. travellers, NEETs.
  • Designing multi-agency interventions in (for example) health or employment.
  • Designing or expanding volunteer programmes.
  • Using the creative arts to support public service objectives (e.g. health, parenting).

If none of these categories are appropriate, or you would in addition like to explain your interest and what you might have to offer, please feel free to do so in the space available.

The RSA team will make these SkillsBank offers available to chairs of the Shadow Community Operations Boards.  We will then work with the Community Operations Boards to try and identify a good match – or an exciting opportunity – and will contact you directly to discuss how you might want to work together.  The RSA team will monitor uptake, and bring together Fellows that become involved on an occasional basis to share experiences and address any challenges.

If you have any questions, contact Lou Matter who can give you further advice. You can also find out more about RSA SkillsBank on our website.  

Background to the project

From the start, this project has been championed by Fellows. The local Area Board appointed Allan Bosley, RSA Fellowship Councillor for the West, as chair of a Community Operations Board, charged with developing the Community Campus concept in Corsham as a pilot project for the County. 

Allan, who had been chairman of the town council for five years (working closely and constructively with all local authorities) explains the thinking behind the initiative:

”In bringing together four district councils and the county council into a unitary authority, Wiltshire Council has fundamentally re-aligned itself to community resilience and empowerment. A part of this transformation has resulted in an ambition to develop 18 Community Campuses across the County that will deliver services at a very local level and also deliver Community-driven facilities and amenities.”

As a Fellow, Allan saw an opportunity for the RSA and the Unitary Authority to collaborate – bringing both the experience of its research teams, and the vast pool of experience and talent in the Fellowship.

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