Better Places National Awards – spreading skills and knowledge

The phrase ‘reinventing the wheel’ used to be a banker for anyone playing Conference Bingo on the regeneration events circuit. Along with the truly awful ‘blue sky thinking’ it was guaranteed to crop up at some point, usually in relation to the need to share learning and therefore avoid the aforementioned activity.

Trouble is, reinventing the wheel is precisely what we will be doing if current trends continue.

It’s an issue that was raised once again when New Start interviewed former neighbourhood manager Tony Walsh, now a poet by the name of Longfella. Having worked in regeneration for the best part of 20 years he was saddened to see skills and knowledge drain away from the sector as quickly as the funding.

Of course, the two are entwined. But in the spirit of saving money wouldn’t it be more prudent to find some way to harness these assets?

As has been documented by this magazine, many of the regional centres of excellence – set up to share knowledge and best practice and to raise skills levels – have closed. The Academy for Sustainable Communities has long since been absorbed into the Homes and Communities Agency, where the priority is, understandably given the current climate, very much about development.

Much of the information produced over the last few years to facilitate learning is still out there on websites. But as we all know, build it [a web resource] and they won’t come. Well, not in any great numbers anyway. The whole process needs animating.

At New Start we’ve always highlighted best practice and innovation and tried to tell the stories behind those successes. It’s something we’ll continue to do, which hopefully will ensure there’s a bit less reinventing.

With that in mind, we’re about to launch some new awards.

Building on the long-running CLES Commendations, New Start’s Better Places National Awards will showcase the best projects and approaches from across the public, private, voluntary and community sectors.

We’re looking for innovative initiatives that are both economically and socially inclusive – exemplars that everyone should want to aspire to.

The winners will be announced at a ceremony in Manchester on the eve of the CLES Summit on 2 July. But that will just be the start – we’ll tell their stories through the pages of New Start, dig down into what’s made them successful and hopefully help others to connect with the people behind them.

For details of how to enter, see the main awards page. We’ll be making more announcements about the awards soon – keep an eye out on our website in the coming weeks or sign up to Hotnews to be kept up to date.


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