Gardeners of Connected Communities


Cultivating the Conditions for Citizens and Communities to Flourish

#psicare Connected Care Camp 

I believe that the place where the most sustainable, deep rooted change takes place is in communities. The process of a group of people who have common purpose coming together to make positive change is as important as the end product. When we work through our differences and work on problems together in the right conditions we can build trust, respect and strong foundations which will help us individually and as a community become more resilient and healthier.

On Saturday7 December 2013 a community of thoughtful people with great integrity and commitment came together with shared purpose, we all believe in the potential of connected care to improve the well-being of people. It was called the Connected Care Camp! Summary and reflections from the camp organiser Shirley Ayres

The resources in the room were incredible, every person had experiences, knowledge, ideas, connections and much more to share. The journey of the day and conversations were facilitated not controlled and the community began to flourish, new relationships were started, teams formed and ideas and knowledge merged to create new innovations.

Set in this context, I was privileged to be able to spend some time with Ally Cameron, (a co-production expert) and an amazing, diverse group of others including Laura Robinson, Paul Webster, Joost Beunderman, Graham Shaw and Mark Tyson to consider the question:

‘How do we create the conditions for activities and ideas emerging from citizens and communities to flourish’

Here is a summary of the ideas and principles which emerged from our conversation:

  • Open up physical spaces in which we all feel comfortable connecting with each other.
  • Identifying the first spark, the common purpose which brings us together, from there many other ideas and activities may grow. This first spark may not be the obvious hook but will be a starting point from which to form new relationships.
  • Work together to help reshape the public sector to feel comfortable with community messiness
  • Work with connectors/community champions to reach into communities and build relationships of trust and integrity
  • Maximise the potential of digital technology to enhance citizenship, connect communities and grow grassroots ideas. Value how it flattens hierarchies, removes barriers, adds choice but also remember there is digital exclusion, support for digital inclusion, other options and choices must remain.
  • Fundamentally, we must spend time together exploring our shared purpose and this must be authentic
  • Truly value our whole selves, all our resources, talents, knowledge and ideas. Respect our diversity, understand our different expertise and unleash all from traditional labels and roles.
  • Work towards equality of power where we all feel equally able to participate requires great personal awareness and challenge but reaps great rewards.
  • Build a constellation map of everything we already have to achieve what we would like to change together

We recognised that the creative process of co-design is important as the end as it facilitates the building of shared understanding and purpose and helps to build trust and relationships. This explains the problem with scale up, taking a successful model from one community and simply dropping it on another. However, we can be inspired by and learn from examples which have co-produced great results, so here are just a few examples suggested by Ally and Joost..

Wandsworth Community Empowerment Network

West Norwood


For those interested in leaning more about some of the approaches and theories:

Asset based community development
Measuring the impact -LSE



My personal reflections from the Connect Care Camp:

My own personal reflections from the connected camp day were about the interactions between people and how in the real world we can all feel trapped in our labels and roles, e.g. ‘Patient’, ‘Nurse’, ‘Chief Executive’. Although these roles are an important part of us, we are all so much more than a job or a health condition. We all have life experience, ideas, passion and commitment, connections, resources that reach way beyond the boundaries of administration.

I would also like to add a little personal note to Ally Cameron. She came to the Connected Care Camp and shared more than anyone, her life story and her knowledge and expertise around co-production. Amongst the many things I learnt from Ally on this day, I began to understand that when someone gives something so personal like their story, to others, just like the transference of energy, it takes something too, there is a consequence. This gift and the impact of giving must not be undervalued or underestimated. So thank you Ally, I really appreciate all that you shared, your personal story, your valuable insights, your expertise and your great big kit of knowledge and examples of coproduction!


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