Leaders’ Forum 2015 provides opportunity to explore community engagement and resilience

30 April 2015

Leaders' Forum 20154-5 June, Coventry
This year’s Leaders’ Forum will explore the topic of community engagement, community resilience and building social capital; providing an opportunity for leaders of local services for children and families and adult social care, to explore pressing issues with their peers.

Social capital refers to the assets/resources within a community. These assets include people’s skills, knowledge and time, to physical resources such as outdoor spaces and community venues. Building social capital enables a community to harness its resources to identify and meet its needs.

Engaging the community in designing, delivering and evaluating services is a pressing issue for many areas. As budgets reduce, it is increasingly important that the community is involved in making tough decisions about services. However, budget cuts are not the only driving force behind community engagement, there is also increasing evidence that involving the community can lead to better services and improved outcomes (Public Health England, 2015).

Our Leaders’ Forum speakers will present ideas and inspiration for local areas seeking to work more closely with local communities, and highlight some of the benefits of working in this way, including:

  • Working with communities to understand needs in the local area

Communities can hold crucial intelligence about local needs, support networks and barriers to accessing services. Ken Barnsley of Blackburn with Darwen Council will present his work exploring social networks and sources of support in the community

  • Changing professional practice

Working more closely with service-users and the wider community requires changes in the practices and culture of organisations, in order to give professionals the skills they need to engage effectively and respond to community needs. Melani Oliver of the Virtual Staff College will present her work on changing the conversation between communities and local services, while Ian Thomas of Rotherham will discuss his work to engage the community in tackling child sexual exploitation

  • Actively engaging with the community and voluntary sector

Active community and voluntary groups can take pressure off statutory services by working preventatively in the community to build strong social networks.  Caroline Slocock of Civil Exchange will present her work on increasing the role of local voluntary sector organisations in the design and delivery of services. We will also hear from the Ignite project, which brings together legal advice and community engagement, funded by the Children’s Social Care Innovation Fund

  • Delivering peer support through volunteers

Peer support models can be more flexible and holistic than statutory services and can help to engage individuals and families who may not otherwise ask for help, or are not eligible for statutory services. Kate Mulley of Action for Children and Stephen Chandler of Shropshire Council will talk about their experiences of developing peer support for families at risk of neglect and for users of adult social care

  • Developing stronger, inclusive communities

Strong, well-connected communities are a source of support and resilience for members of that community. A number of speakers will explore different aspects of building social capital, including a new approach to working with the community in both adults and children’s services in Wigan; work from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation on informal help and kindness; and a review of work with communities in the US from Professor Brigid Featherstone.

This year’s Leaders’ Forum is will bring both Research in Practice and Research in Practice for Adults together, joining leaders from both sectors with specialist break-out sessions to explore key issues for adults and children and families.

Designed for Chief Executives, Directors and senior leaders of children’s and adult social care, places are available for Research in Practice and Research in Practice for Adults Partners.

Want to have a look at what’s on offer?

In the run-up to the Leaders’ Forum, we’ll be publishing a number of blog posts from our speakers to give you a flavor of what’s to come. If you can’t wait, you can read more about our speakers on our programme and within their research:


Public Health England (2015) A guide to community-based approaches to health and wellbeing.

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