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The enabling state

Source: PSE June/July 15

Jennifer Wallace, head of policy at the Carnegie UK Trust, explains more about a competition to help initiatives that give communities and individuals greater control over the services that they use.

For almost 20 years, successive governments have aimed to give more power to citizens and local communities. Policies such as community empowerment, localism and coproduction have been supported from across the political spectrum, backed up by pressure and evidence from the third sector that highlights the gains to be made in terms of improvements to our wellbeing. 

The Carnegie UK Trust was set up over 100 years ago to improve the wellbeing of people. Since 2012, the Trust’s Enabling State programme has been exploring moves towards more flexible and responsive ‘enabling’ services and programmes that place citizen and community front and centre. 

We have seen a growing awareness amongst policymakers and practitioners of the limitations of traditional ‘top down’ service design but also a gap between rhetoric and reality. The public in particular do not report feeling any more involved and engaged now than they did five years ago. At the Carnegie UK Trust we want to narrow this gap between rhetoric and reality. 

After 18 months of research and enquiry we published our ‘A route map to an Enabling State’, highlighting eight steps that organisations can take to improve wellbeing: 

  • Getting out of the way
  • Giving permission
  • Helping people to help themselves
  • Giving people help to do more
  • Giving people rights
  • Making enabling the new normal
  • Investing in disadvantaged communities
  • Focusing on wellbeing 

Our recently launched Enabling State Challenge takes this one step further by showcasing and celebrating examples of enabling approaches in action. Five prizes of £5,000 each will be awarded to exemplary initiatives that demonstrate how to give communities and individuals greater control over the services that they use. 

We are keen to ensure involvement from projects across the UK, so if you are involved in a particularly good library project in Wales or enterprise initiative in Scotland, wellbeing project in Northern Ireland or built environment idea in England, we want to hear from you. 

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The Enabling State Challenge comprises of three stages. 

Phase 1 

We are currently open for entries from any organisation or project that believes it is working in an enabling way. We are accepting entries from public, private and third sector organisations. You can enter at the link below by completing a short application form and submitting a three-minute video about your work. The deadline for entries is Friday 26 June 2015. 

Phase 2 

In July, entries will be reviewed by our expert panel who will select five projects to each receive a £5,000 prize. Our expert judging panel is made up of key figures from the public, third and private sectors across the UK. The panel will select five winners which exemplify an enabling model by exhibiting at least one of the eight steps set out in ‘A route map to an Enabling State’. 

Phase 3 

The five winning applicants from phase 2 will be put to a public vote in October via the website to determine the overall winner of an additional £5,000. 

All the video applications will be hosted on the Enabling State website. The potential for raising the profile of all projects, even those that don’t win, is a strong driver for participation. The five winners from phase 2 will be used as case studies in a new report on the Enabling State in practice, which will be launched at a high-profile event in London in November 2015. 

The Enabling State Challenge is an opportunity to showcase the best new ways of working, highlighting innovation and encouraging others to take the next steps. We hope you will join us on this journey by taking part in the Challenge.

Tell us what you think – have your say below or email [email protected]


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