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  • CHANGE!

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in September (London). Transnational meeting in November (Amarante).
    Transnational meetings in April (Gdansk), September (Aarhus) and November (Dun Laoghaire).
    Final event in March (Eindhoven).

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    City of Rotterdam
    Coolsingel 40, 3011 AD Rotterdam

    City Council Bielefeld
    Bürger Service Center
    Phone +49 521 510

    CONTACT US

    City of Eindhoven
    Stadhuisplein 1, 5611 EM Eindhoven

    In times when personal sacrifices are much needed to tackle burning societal issues, fostering and enabling collaboration at local level of public administration is of the utmost importance. The partners of this Action Planning network had the opportunity to reflect upon social design, a process to think over alongside local stakeholders how to co-design their social public services towards a more collaborative service. This means to create an urban strategy that somehow engages volunteers to improve communities and public services, reducing costs at the same time.

    People powered public services
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  • SmartImpact

    Timeline

    Kick-off meeting in June (Dublin). Transnational meeting in October (Stockholm).
    Transnational meetings in February (Miskolc), April (Zagreb), June (Porto) and October (Guadalajara).
    Final event in March (Manchester).

    Municipality of Athienou
    2, Archbishop Makarios III Ave.
    7600 Athienou Cyprus

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Santiago de Compostela

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Udine (Italy)

    CONTACT US

    For any enquires into Tech Revolution, email: DMC@Barnsley.gov.uk

    Keep following our social media channels as we develop Tech Revolution 2.0 as part of the second wave of URBACT ||| Programme. 

    Follow our Twitter: @Tech_RevEu
    Follow our Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/urbact-techrevolution/

    CONTACT US

    Coordinator

    ADDRESS

    Av. Movimento das Forças Armadas

    2700-595 Amadora

    Portugal 

    TELEPHONE

    +351 21 436 9000

    Ext. 1801

    CONTACT US

    City of Rome

    tamara.lucarelli@comune.roma.it

    Department of European Funds and Innovation

    Via Palazzo di Città, 1 - 10121 Turin (Italy)

     

    CONTACT US

    Câmara Municipal de Lisboa

    Departamento de Desenvolvimento Local

    Edifício Municipal, Campo Grande nº25, 6ºE | 1749 -099 Lisboa

    CONTACT US

    urbact.civicestate@gmail.com

    CONTACT US

    Laura González Méndez. Project coordinator.

    Gijón City Council

    CONTACT US

    Municipality of Piraeus

    CONTACT US

    City of Ljubljana

    Mestni trg 1

    1000 Ljubljana, Slovenia

    CONTACT US

    Project Coordinator Martin Neubert

    +49 371 355 7029

     

    CONTACT US

    Riga NGO House

    CONTACT US

    City of Antwarp
    Grote Markt 1 - 2000 Antwarpen

    Manchester City Council
    Manchester M2 5RT

    The focus of this Action Planning network was less about technology solutions per se, but more about governance structures, process and business models. The partner cities are specifically worked together to: develop models of how organisations can adapt their structures to deliver smart cities; effectively finance smart solutions and creating new ways of understanding value with co-investment strategies; develop and support innovation ecosystems within cities; explore the role of regulations and incentives, e.g. the carrot and stick approach; better understand how data integration and urban data platforms can support the smart city.

    Cities, people and the promotion of smart, sustainable development
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  • Rethinking welfare from a neighbourhood level

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    15/11/2022
    Version dating back from October 2015. Strategy for the contribution of URBACT III to Europe 2020 and the achievement of economic, social and territorial cohesion.
    Articles
    Disadvantaged neighbourhoods

    A few kilometres south of Gdańsk’s world famous port, next to a roaring bypass, is the district of Orunia. For decades this area has been synonymous with neglect. Plagued by underinvestment and a lack of public spaces, and prone to flooding, it is an example of Poland’s ‘sociological vacuum’. This term, which is usually linked to the legacy of communism, describes a process where individuals retreat into small communities of family and close friends, with little participation in civic life.

    Among Polish cities, the municipality of Gdańsk has shown a particular commitment to challenging this phenomenon. One of the best examples can be seen in the neighbourhood house scheme. These spaces began to be established in 2010 on the initiative of local activists who were inspired by the British model of community centres. They are funded by municipal grants but everyday management is delegated entirely to NGOs and citizens’ collectives. Crucially, they do not serve a single group but are there to provide activities for the neighbourhood as a whole.

    Orunia is home to one of the first and most successful examples. The district’s neighbourhood house receives over 1 000 visits a month and functions, among other things, as a youth centre, debate club and immigration advice centre. The surrounding area has also seen a 1 000% increase in social initiatives since it was established.

    A house for every district

    Despite success stories like these, it became clear after a few years that the initiative wasn’t going to spread on its own. “Naming a place a neighbourhood house seemed to mean different things for different people,” says Monika Chabior, an activist from Gdańsk. “Lots of people saw it as too much responsibility to find the location, people to run the place and deal with finance. We realised we needed some processes for evaluating who we were and what our goals were.

    And so Ms Chabior and her colleagues sought inspiration from other European cities in the URBACT CHANGE! network. By being in this network, Gdańsk set up a local group of stakeholders (URBACT Local Group) to exchange with their European peers and to find solutions to the challenges they faced.

    Thanks to conversations in this local group, we made the decision to organise some smaller scale alternatives to neighbourhood houses, called clubs,” says Ms Chabior. “Unlike full-scale houses, these can be used for specific groups or single communities, and anyone can set them up.” Early signs suggest these intermediary structures have been an effective way of bypassing the perceived difficulty of developing neighbourhood houses. The hope now is that this will reignite a spontaneous expansion of different kinds of community centres across the city, led by a diverse group of local animators.

    A broader impact is also being seen in local politics. Ahead of municipal elections in October 2018, neighbourhood houses and community organising have been unusually high on the agenda. “This was a great success of the URBACT Local Group activities,” confirms Ms Magdalena Skiba, from the municipality's Department of Social Development. “Every candidate is talking about these issues, they are all promising more money, and neighbourhood houses for every district. Of course we have concerns, these spaces need real community leaders, but thanks to our work, the houses now have visibility like never before.

    Learning from other cities: an asset to the project

    “It was useful for us to focus on concrete solutions. We encountered a lot of subtle things that we wouldn’t have been able to see in, say, a document.” says Ms Chabior. During a visit to Rotterdam (NL), her team reflected on new ways of delegating roles to tackle a growing problem of exhaustion among managers of the neighbourhood houses. They also found inspiration in Eindhoven’s (NL) concept of a generalist, a mediator between residents and specialists who uses a personal approach to engage potentially marginalised groups. This was identified as a possible model for social workers in Gdańsk.

    It was a workshop on community organisation in London (UK), however, that provided the most transferable tools. “In the local group, one of our plans was to develop integration in and between districts,” says Magdalena Skiba. “For me, as a person coming from a department in charge of monitoring, supervision and control of public social services, to develop a common understanding among civil servants, service providers and activists was a very useful experience. This meeting also showed us that public administration has or can develop new tools to empower local communities to take over responsibility for their neighbourhoods.”

    Back in Poland the local group decided to build a dedicated space to encourage similar silo-breaking exchanges within the city. The Gdańsk School of Solidarity Everyday brought facilitators from neighbourhood houses together with municipal workers, social economy managers and other stakeholders to discuss how to stimulate bottom-up participation. Alongside local examples, the group studied URBACT Good Practices and drew up plans for a People To People (P2P) platform through which people might co-create a shared pedagogy in order to exchange knowledge more efficiently.

    ***

    You can find the Cities in Action - Stories of Change publication just here.

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  • Let us build the new politics starting from our everyday lives

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    15/11/2022

    The Rethink Activism Festival

    Back in September, Sager der Samler (translated: Uniting Causes), in collaboration with many other stakeholders, organized the people’s festival Rethink Activism in Aarhus. We put together a program of 250 workshops, conversations, concerts and so forth which were all initiated by citizens and grassroots. The aim was to highlight a new capacity for action which is emerging across society and to raise the profile of everyday activists who are changing the world right there where they are through creativity and cooperative spirit. We set the stage for the experience of concrete local initiatives with an optimistic vision for society – not methods and fine speeches.

    The festival took place in the area surrounding the old slaughterhouse and power station at Sydhavnen in Aarhus which was transformed into a city within the city with town hall, school, factory, culture house, day shelter, health house etc. The city spread across an area the size of 10 football fields and as the festival opened on Friday morning the city’s new inhabitants flocked to the place. The interest and curiosity turned out to be enormous, lasting all the way until the end Sunday evening. Despite a very limited advertising budget more than 10.000 people visited the festival that was held over three days.

    Amongst those participants were partners involved in the URBACT CHANGE! Network. Led by Eindhoven, Aarhus is an active member of this network which is exploring how we can involve citizens in reshaping urban policy and practice. Each of the network’s cities came to festival with their own ideas and experience of how we can do this.

    And if the festival proves one thing it is this: a lot of people are committed to society and to making societal change. As journalist at Politiken Anne Bech-Danielsen commented: “They are young, they are old, and they act: Refugees, unemployed or people who have simply had enough of overconsumption, isolation or not doing anything and there are more of them than just a handful of cheerful civilians.”

    A new way to be politically active

    Articles
    Education

    The festival program presented several hundred concrete and visionary examples of how we as ordinary people can contribute to finding new solutions.
    One example is Annbritt Jørgensen and Steffen Sand who have been social assistance recipients for years and live with psychiatric diagnoses. They stand behind Skraldecaféen (translated: The Dumpster Diving Café) -  which uses food waste from supermarket containers to create new communities and help socially isolated people like themselves.

    Or local enthusiast Jeppe Spure Nielsen who is one of the initiators of “Forskøn Hans Broges Gade” (translated: Beautify Hans Broges Street) which at the same time improves an urban environment in a concrete manner and creates a sense of community between the residents in the Frederiksbjerg neighborhood in Aarhus. The street community is thus experimenting with being urban creators instead of just users of the local, public space in which they live.

    Yet another example is entrepreneur Metin Aydin who assists a Syrian refugee stuck in the municipal system. The Syrian has a dream of becoming a self-employed hairdresser. Metin helps him through VAT rules and how to set up a Facebook business page. Today Aarhus has a new mobile hairdresser and Metin has created the association Egenvirksomhed.nu (translated Ownbusiness.now) where he, together with other volunteers, helps people on social welfare realize their dream of becoming self-employed.

    Metin acted because he met a person in great difficulty whom he was able to help. And at the same time, it is a way for him to be politically active by putting into play competencies of his own which lack in the public system. It is a way for him to make a difference.

    Everyday politicians with a small “p”

    Researchers and opinion formers have also spotted the new movement which was showcased during the festival. Often, they use the term “ad-hoc volunteering” to describe it, but the term is misleading. Instead, we have chosen the word “everyday activism”.

    This new vigor is not directly comparable to classic volunteerism. Everyday activism is an expression of a more entrepreneurial approach where we as citizens are neither users nor volunteers. No one is set to do anything. On the contrary, we as citizens break away from our traditional roles and through our initiatives we become political individuals who create platforms for promoting causes and pointing out solutions.

    In other words, the movement reflects a new, democratic people’s culture which connects everyday life and politics in a very concrete way. People are no longer waiting for local, national or any other kind of authority to take up the reins. They want to change the world right where they are, and they are fed up with talking. They just go ahead.

    Some people question the ability of everyday activists to look beyond their own self-interests. And indeed, you can be very engaged in your own cause, but personal engagement is not necessarily a reflection of narrow self-interests.

    The point of departure for Annbritt and Steffen’s dumpster diving café was their own situation but at the same time they moved beyond what was right in front of them and looked further. They are experts in their own lives and they use that special knowledge to show us something which concerns the whole society, and that is how to combine sustainability with solving social problems.

    That way Annbritt and Steffen become a kind of everyday politician with a small “p” is because they represent something bigger without being attached to one specific political party.

    Active participation is a movement in its own right

    Another misinterpretation of what’s happening comes from the fact that everyday activism and initiatives are being described as temporary. This casts doubt on their durability.

    The Dumpster Diving Café is, like many other initiatives, loosely organized and managed by people who have no professional training or fixed budget. On the other hand, there is a strong sense of ownership and the project is the result of years of striving to change difficult life circumstances. It is a higher purpose that makes us want to get up in the morning and therefore the work will go on with or without project funding. There is no volatility here but of course the impact is greater with backup than without.

    The special quality of the Dumpster Diving Café and many other initiatives started by citizens is that they, through their example, discover new ways to solve a difficult problem, question prevailing standards and call attention to important but overlooked resources. At the same time, they have taken back control of their lives and experience a renewed faith that they have a part to play in the big community.

    That is why we have got to renew the way we talk about “active citizenship” and its original meaning. We have got to move away from a tendency that wants to turn our participation in society into a resource the municipal budget can draw upon, the public administration can administer, researchers can analyze or politicians can use to create a public image. Citizens should be a part of the renewal of our welfare society, but not in a way that consigns them to a narrow role as consumers or spare pairs of hands.

    The Rethink Activism People’s Festival created a narrative about active participation as a movement in its own right. Here, everyday activists call into question what politics really is. They say: how can we create a new society? What would it look like? They try themselves to create examples of new solutions and show what today’s dream society would look like. This is a much deeper role than any repackaged concept of volunteering. Instead, it rests upon the shared values that still exist within our communities and draws upon the creativity and social entrepreneurship which characterizes this new generation of everyday activism.

    It is high time we talked together

    Come by and talk to Annbritt and Steffen about marginalization and get some ideas as to how food sustainability can foster new communities. Come by and talk to Metin about how entrepreneurial competencies can inspire new ways of supporting refugees into jobs. Come by and talk to the many, many everyday activists who are out there and make a difference. And through networks like CHANGE, these conversations are taking place not only in Denmark, but throughout Europe. Change is in the air.

    At a time when democracy itself is at risk, it is high time we talked together and reinvented the person-to-person political talk. Democratic disparities can only be reduced through dialogue, collaboration and a desire to reach a common ground through mutual learning - and formative processes. It will not happen through strategic communication which is a one-sided way to make the electorate support a certain policy.

    Too often, politicians overestimate themselves and underestimate the inventiveness of their citizens. Therefore, we urge politicians to sharpen their eyes to the political visions which are created in everyday life. The everyday activists want to get into the game, testing new solutions together with the established system – the point of departure being everyday life.

    The challenges cities face are well-established – lack of trust, migration, climate change – amongst them. We are deeply convinced that the only way to address them is if everyone becomes part of the solution. The most important foundation for a living democracy is that more people take ownership of the development of society and help create optimistic visions for the future.

    Let us take back everyday life as the basis for new politics – this is where we live our lives.

    Related articles:

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  • From participative to personal budgets: the power of responsibility sharing

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    15/11/2022

    We can improve public services for local communities and individuals by giving them more control rather than imposing top down governmental programmes on them. This belief has led to a boom in “participative budgets” witnessed across Europe (and the world), as one of the easiest tools putting rights in the hands of communities. However, there has been less attention on the individual level, i.e., personal budget schemes that could activate citizens to make a change in their lives. URBACT CHANGE! partner city Aarhus (DK) was recently awarded the URBACT Good Practice Call label for its pioneering personal budget scheme tackling long-term unemployment. This article gives an overview of this innovative set of policy tools and suggests we might pay more attention to them.

    Anne Mette, a graphic designer living in Aarhus, had been out of the job market for a lengthy period, mainly caring for her three young kids and chronically ill husband. Looking to return to work, she found herself in an extremely challenging situation when the local Jobcentre asked her the following question: what could she do with a personal grant of ca. €6725 if she could decide how to spend it in order to get a job. She hesitated but finally took the opportunity. Anne launched a micro-business with the grant. Now she produces hand-made, leather aprons for local restaurants with a great and increasing success. This is still not a big business, but a huge first step for Anne Mette. 

    Sharing responsibility leads to stronger citizenship

    Articles
    Jobs and skills

    When you are unemployed, “you actually start thinking to yourself that you indeed cannot do anything to change your situation” – Anne Mette says in the short film published on the CHANGE! website by Aarhus. What Aarhus is experimenting now within its “Long-term unemployed take the lead” initiative is to share the responsibility related to public services between the public and the personal level. Participative budgets, already a well-known policy tool at community level seem to be working on a personal level too. So what are the benefits and the potential risks when a city authority intends to revolutionise its governance by sharing responsibility with citizens?

    Understanding the power of responsibility sharing by local leaders was one of the main milestones when Porto Alegre in Brazil launched the world’s first participative or as sometimes called citizen budget in 1989. Today we are witnessing the expansion of this tool worldwide. In the URBACT CHANGE! network for example, Gdańsk (PL) and Amarante (PT) have experience on how to capitalise on the vibrant and growing power of direct involvement of people and communities. How to share decision-making, how to enable communities to work with budget holders to define local priorities, identify available resources and allocate these resources accordingly is a key learning point both for the respective councils and local people (see the CHANGE! Baseline Study or the case study on Gdańsk and Amarante).

    So what are the benefits of participatory budgeting? Why do hundreds of European cities allocate resources for such initiatives? The story starts with the individuals involved: they feel themselves empowered, listened to and engaged, even if the money allocated for participatory budgets is very small in comparison with the city’s overall budget. More importantly, participatory budgeting can increase the connectedness of those involved, and such a tool also improves the understanding of public services within the local community. In addition, practitioners and leaders feel supported and understood and all of this generates greater trust and community cohesion, even if budget decisions are not specifically linked to local neighbourhoods.

    But we also know that there are several challenges regarding participatory budgets, mainly linked to their sustainability. Maintaining the increased, but rather sensitive trust generated by such an action requires strong commitment, especially from political leaders. Participatory budgets are not just an interesting “toy” to offer for the public before elections. It is indeed a challenge not only to maintain the volume of the first initiative in terms of the territories covered, budget and interest, but to increase the potential impact in all senses. Experience shows that it is often hard to maintain the atmosphere of this new engagement – and it is always easy to lose them.

    Long-term unemployed take the lead

    The Danish city of Aarhus, in cooperation with the Velux Foundation, has been running this ground-breaking social experiment since the beginning of 2016 in the city. Jobcentre Aarhus hosts this pilot in which long-term unemployed persons over 30 years of age who have been on cash benefits for at least one year can prepare their own budgets to finance initiatives aimed at finding employment for them (support is up to DKK 50,000 per participant, ca. €6725€). The pilot involves 100 participants in two years and gets high attention both from national institutions and the press due to its innovative character.

     

    The participants can apply for money for everything ranging from acquiring a driver’s licence and upgrading courses to new suits or electric bicycles. Funds may be disbursed to the project participants for any given purpose as long as the individual participants can account for how this will bring them closer to employment. The vision is that the individual becomes the driving force in their own job performance and that this will increase their chances of getting a job.

    Although final assessment is not available yet, based on interviews (Status Report by City of Aarhus) made in January 2017 with a total of 34 participants, some initial, but promising messages can be derived. Initial results show that 14 out of 27 applicants who took part in phases 2 and 3 are no longer on unemployment benefits. In addition, based on the interviews most participants felt:

    • That someone has confidence in them
    • A renewed faith in their ability to find a job
    • A boost to their personal and vocational self-confidence
    • That the job consultant can finally provide them with assistance that they can use

    Participants feel that the project differs from the usual programmes by:

    • Being tailored to meet their specific needs
    • Being built on trust from the job consultant, rather than control
    • Being based on the participant’s own initiative and responsibility
    • Resulting in marked personal ownership of the process.

    Personalising social care

    Before launching its initiative Aarhus has analysed some examples in England, where “there is agreement across the social care sector that personalisation, through personal budgets, is the right way forward and that well-implemented, personalised services benefit users and result in better outcomes. England is leading the world in personalising social care but this means that we are breaking new ground” (Personal budgets in social care, Second Report of Session 2016-2017).

    In England, personal budgets in social care are sums of money allocated by a local authority to service users to be spent on services to meet their care needs. They can be managed on behalf of users by the authority, or a third party, or given to users as direct payments: money to spend themselves. They enable users to have more choice and control over the services they receive, tailoring their care to their personal circumstances and the outcomes they want to achieve. “When implemented well, personal budgets allow adults to try new ways to meet their social care needs, give them more choice and control over the care they receive and give them the opportunity to achieve the outcomes they want from their care” – states the above report. However, using personal budgets for employment is a relatively new topic in England too. According to the results of the first initiatives regarding employment, where personal budgets for employment support have been experimented with, they can and do work. “We therefore feel it should be the priority to ensure employment support can be accessed through adult social care personal budgets”- recommends the above report.

    There are also lots of criticism and risks around implementing personal budget schemes. The most obvious challenge is that more vulnerable users, and those who lack mental capacity, will find it more difficult to take control of their care. They are less likely to be able to make good decisions on their own about how best to meet their care needs. Only a complex system can differentiate such a service to maximise benefits to users. In addition to this, yet in more advanced countries like the UK, the government has not gathered enough evidence yet on what are the best ways to personalise care services to maximise the benefits to users. This is why the above UK report recommends for the central government to set up a robust system to monitor personal budget schemes.

    Another core question, which should be answered by the evaluation of Aarhus’ experiment is how to differentiate the system related to the barriers different people face when applying for personalised care. Aarhus’ experiment started on the way that the job consultants themselves selected the most potential participants for self-budgeting, while participants in latter phases were randomly selected through registration numbers on the basis of some predefined criteria. This process resulted in an increase in the number of citizens who declined the offer to participate in that scheme. This is a crucial point here. As some people face more barriers to utilising such a personalised scheme, Aarhus’ experiment and all other similar systems should also evaluate who might be more likely to benefit such an innovative tool.

    Aarhus’s experiment also tackled this issue through an organisational method. The pilot offered two different courses for participants: a collective- and an individual one. In the collective courses participants meet with other applicants and thus they can learn from other’s experiences with self-budgeting. In the individual courses participants meet one-on-one with their case manager. The results so far indicate that peer support might have a crucial role: participants strongly prefer collective courses where they can get inspiration from peers, as some find it challenging to figure out what they want to spend the money on. They feel more comfortable discussing ideas with fellow unemployed citizens than with case managers.

    The role of cities regarding changing care systems

    Local authorities’ role within the public service delivery varies country by country and legislation is set at national or regional level. It seems that cities have a less important role in managing the change required within service delivery. Although it is not yet clear how local authorities can implement personal budgets in different countries, we do hope that in the future more and more municipalities, as the closest level of the public sphere to local communities will come up with solutions targeting public service reform. Also from URBACT cities...

    Creating a united society takes a united effort. In order to maintain and develop a robust social and economic welfare society, politicians, citizens, businesses, associations and municipal employees must rethink how we work together”. This is set by Aarhus in its ‘Active Citizenship Policy’, a general policy framework created in 2016. Following this mind-set and carefully going further with participatory budgets is thus recommended for all municipalities: keep the momentum and improve the existing participative budgets with the involvement of strong community institutions for neighbourhood governance (e.g. neighbourhood councils, installing local innovation brokers) and set up other incentives such as community dividends! Following the first successful steps to share responsibilities with the communities, it is also recommended to experiment the power of responsibility sharing through personal budgets, even though this seems to be a more risky and complex tool!

    Welfare 2.0

    Last, but not least it is worth mentioning the bigger picture. Personal budget schemes are a great example to test and demonstrate how an ideal public service provision should work. “Welfare State products used to be good solutions for the previous, rather predictable life paths, but, in nowadays’ globalised world, they are simply not good enough anymore and they are also becoming more and more expensive” - said Jeroen Hoenderkamp, strategic advisor of the city of Eindhoven, where a pioneer model, the WeEindhoven is being tested. Due to austerity measures local authorities across Europe must save money in times when demand for social care rises. The most effective response resulting in ‘doing more for less’ is often called as Relational or Preventive Welfare.

    Existing top-down services too often reproduce social inequalities, create dependency and cannot efficiently tackle new problems (ageing societies, constant labour market disparities, migration, the scale of inequality, etc). In addition to this, existing services are poor at preventing social problems, and better equipped for reacting to emergencies, which is very expensive. A growing amount of evidence shows that top-down service delivery is too often a rather expensive way of maintaining the status-quo of those disadvantaged families who lack basic skills and are thus not able to break out of the vicious circle of support claiming.

    We are in the middle of a fundamental transformation of the welfare state. We are breaking with the classical conception of welfare as a standard benefit or service, and we are breaking with the time when a case manager could offer a standard product to all citizens. In these years the municipalities are making experiments with new forms of welfare – co-created with citizens and businesses.” – said Anne Eg Jensen from Aarhus in her article about the above personal budget initiative.

    At the moment we can witness different experiments on very different scale in Europe. Whatever will be the outcomes of these initiatives, and whatever will be recommended by the first evidence, at the moment it seems that effective services are those that are local, that help people help themselves and focus on people’ capabilities instead of their needs. Personal budgets are pioneering examples of this change.

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  • How Eindhoven unlocks the collaborative capacity of the city through social service delivery

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    15/11/2022

     

    It is clear why Dutch cities have a good reputation recently among urbanists. In the beginning of the year we heard that four Dutch cities, Tilburg, Utrecht, Groningen and Wageningen, from January, 2016 are giving some of their social assistance receivers an unconditional social security payment (i.e. a monthly income of the Government without an obligation to take paid employment or to be involved in community service). They examine whether these people will become more active than others with the current, strict regime. In May, urban planners appreciated the signature of the Pact of Amsterdam paving the way for an EU level urban agenda. Last but not least, the URBACT community is hopefully already checking on the internet why the URBACT Summer University 2016 is taking place in Rotterdam, in the city which received the Urbanism Award in 2015. To carry on with ground-breaking urban experiments from the Netherlands, this article is about the WeEindhoven social experimenting programme, which might have had less publicity, but it is definitely worth following the results of this pioneering initiative.  

    Articles
    Disadvantaged neighbourhoods

    Eindhoven (Lead Partner of the CHANGE! network), often referred to as the ‘city of innovation’, with a population of 225.000 inhabitants (2015) is the fifth-largest city in the Netherlands. It is also well-known for its Brainport framework, putting the knowledge-driven city next to Rotterdam (the main port) and Amsterdam (the main airport). The philosophy behind Brainport is the Triple Helix (nowadays often called as Quadruple Helix, including end-users) as a cooperation between local government, business and knowledge institutions to stimulate and boost technology and innovation, which enables the region to accelerate economic, social and individual growth.

    We could say that a city of innovation should be ground-breaking regarding societal challenges too. Although this is true in many aspects, the picture is more complex of course. To overcome the grand societal challenges of our days, Eindhoven introduced the policy programme WeEindhoven, a radically new way of social service delivery, which intends not only to change the system of service delivery, but also the behaviour of the society as well. The WeEindhoven model is a good example of system change and people-powered public services, and is fully in line with the trending paradigm shift, the reorganisation of the welfare state to Relational or Preventive Welfare.

    WeEindhoven is not only a programme, but it is a movement aiming to have an impact on the whole society

    So what makes Eindhoven a good basis for social innovation and the opportunity to implement such a radical programme?  The level of community engagement in the Netherlands is higher than in most of the European countries. In addition to this, Eindhoven is a medium-sized city with a significant proportion of younger, better-educated people, which is often fundamental for behaviour change.

     
    Source: Official website WeEindhoven

    The original idea of WeEindhoven was born in 2011 as an innovative answer to societal challenges that already came up in late 90ies, but were highlighted in the last years due to the crisis: the society is changing quicker than institutions and, therefore, the Welfare State cannot give suitable answers to the new challenges.

    To quote Jeroen Hoenderkamp (a strategic advisor of the city of Eindhoven who was involved in the development of the WeEindhoven programme): “Welfare State products used to be good solutions for the previous, rather predictable life paths, but, in nowadays’ globalised world, they are simply not good enough anymore and they are also becoming more and more expensive. Due to the crisis, a change in the national policy of the Netherlands occurred, in which along with budget cuts, the national government is shifting responsibilities from national to local level. This is why the city of Eindhoven made an analysis (2010) regarding social service delivery. 

    To cope with societal challenges a system change seemed unavoidable and within the framework of an expert panel the idea of WeEindhoven was born. The City Council supported the idea and during the next 1-2 years the system change was developed in a truly participative way (discussions with several stakeholders from the early stage of the programme development until its fine-tuning, task-force meetings, street interviews, expert panels, residents’ platforms and info-evenings, etc.). To quote Jacolien Aleman (a specialist on social policies at the municipality, who was also involved in the transformation of the internal structure of the municipality): In the past we did spent a lot of money on the delivery of a general package of services without exactly knowing what kind of support was needed on personal level. We have a strong belief that people, if empowered, are capable to take their own responsibility and solve their own problems in a more efficient way. Eindhoven is in transition and the core element is WeEindhoven”.

    The WeEindhoven programme started in 2013 as a pilot in two neighbourhoods and since the beginning of 2015 the experiment has turned into an official programme implemented throughout the whole city. Some Dutch cities, like Utrecht and Rotterdam run similar programmes, but the more advanced one is taking place in Eindhoven.

    WIJeindhoven

    WIJeindhovenThe heart of the WeEindhoven programme means 10 WeTeams, located in different neighbourhoods, representing a kind of one-stop-shop. WeTeams consist of generalists (the 1st line within the triangle) with different backgrounds, like child/family/elderly care, drug addiction, care for people with disabilities, etc. The generalists act as facilitators and coaches between residents (the 0 line in the triangle) and specialists (the 2nd line in the triangle). The ideal generalist is a “storyteller, resource weaver, system architect and navigator” (Dr Henry Kippin: Collaborative capacity in public service delivery – Towards a framework for practice, UNDP Global Centre for Public Service Excellence, Singapore, 2015). Her/His role is to be well connected to residents and their neighbourhood in the usual everyday life.

    Instead of the typical dialogue in which residents demand and the municipality provides the requested service quasi automatically, WeTeams focus on a personal approach. The generalist visits the households and starts the intake with a “coffee around the kitchen table”, trying to identify not only the actual problems and needs of a family or person, but root causes behind them as well. When looking for solutions people are stimulated to take their own responsibility and solve their problems themselves or together with the so-called “social basis”, instead of immediately involving a high level specialist. This door-to-door mobilisation or engagement is often more efficient than the traditional way of appointing representatives to speak on behalf of a community.

    The so called “social basis” consists of two parts: the general facilities of a neighbourhood, and the networks among people, also known as “Citizens Joined Forces”. The general facilities (like employment, education, culture, sports, housing, etc.) can be used by every resident to become more self-reliant. It is the role of the municipality to facilitate strengthening of these basic services and to make sure they are accessible to everyone. Within the CHANGE! network the focus of Eindhoven is on the second part of the social basis, the “Citizens Joined Forces”; the networks among people. For example, the relationships people have with their family, with their neighbours and other residents. The idea is that where people meet, initiatives arise from a shared interest and passion, and residents are willing to help each other with questions and problems. For instance, residents can volunteer in sports clubs, associations and unions, become a voluntary caretaker, take part in their children’s school programs, do something for the church, take their neighbours to the hospital, cook for an ill friend, look after each other’s children, etc. Or how Roseliek van Geel (thematic expert of the city of Eindhoven) expressed: “social basis is the well-known, but often forgotten, old, normal, common life.”

    By stimulating people to think for themselves, take their own responsibility and be active within the social basis, the generalists work based on the same key principles as Community Organisers do in the UK, well, according to the “Our Place guide to Community Organising” (Our Place Programme, Locality, 2015): “Community organising is the work of building relationships in communities to activate people and create social and political change through collective action. A community organiser starts by building one-to-one relationships with people, builds a network or membership organisation which selects priorities and targets for action, nurtures leaders in the community and activates the members of the network to take collective action to create social change”.

    When problems cannot be solved within the social basis, the generalist will provide custom made support for the client by linking her/him to a specialist. The idea, however, is that, if the system is well managed a larger number of people are able to utilize their own strengths and networks, becoming more self-reliant, and less depending on specialized support. Like Roseliek van Geel mentioned: “WeEindhoven is not only a programme, but it is a movement aiming to have an impact on the whole society”.

    In 2015 around 350 generalists worked in the 10 WeTeams. 2016 is the year for fine-tuning the programme based on the feedbacks from constant evaluations. So far, 90% (!) of the evaluations were positive. During 2016 the programme will be implemented in its final version and management will be transferred to a foundation outside the municipality. Generally, it shows a new way of collaboration in service delivery. However, since the roles of all stakeholders changed, conflicts also occurred during the process. On one hand, a special point of attention is the overlap between the work of WeTeams and NGOs working in the field, and on the other hand, the lack of communication and cooperation between these two. Steps definitely need to be taken in this field. But, as Roseliek van Geel summarises: “You need to take steps during the whole process. They might sometimes seem too small and lacking a direct effect, making it is necessary to look further, at the great vision behind them”.

    This summary is fully in line with the recommendations of the URBACT Programme regarding opening up governance and public services (Social innovation in cities, 2015): “The city administration is showing a form of pragmatic modesty. It prefers to start by picking the low-hanging fruit. Then it builds on its initial successes to try more difficult steps but always keeps the level of ambition high. It recognises that it faces difficulties, delay and mistakes but still aims to achieve the best results. The public administration doesn’t feel weaker because it acknowledges its problems. On the contrary, its ambition seems empowered and at the same time realistic. A fresh feeling of liberation from the mistakes of the past seems to encourage civil servants to go forward”.

    Eindhoven’s Integrated Action Plan to be elaborated within the CHANGE! network will focus on strengthening the social basis. To quote Jacolien Aleman: “By strengthening the social basis people will be able to utilize their own strengths and networks more, making them more self-reliant. The idea is to strengthen the social basis in a way, which results in an inclusive society where everyone can live, work, and relax”. Therefore, the main question to be answered within the CHANGE! Network is how to share the service provision with citizens and how to empower local people to do that? How to incentivise and reward different types of behaviour? How human relations can be integrated to the way in which public services are designed and delivered? What might ‘letting go responsibly’ mean in practice? How formal and informal social action can be supported in a systematised and efficient way?

    These are very important questions, and the first, promising results of the experimental programme can be useful for the whole European community. But let’s not forget that the fact that the complex WeEindhoven programme is an advanced model in European terms. So another important question is the extent to which other European cities can replicate it – or aspects of it. These key questions will be at the forefront of our work in the CHANGE! network in the coming months, as we look to share these important innovative lessons across our varied network of cities.

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