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Written Statement – Welsh Government’s Principles for Working with Communities

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Lesley Griffiths AM, Minister for Communities and Tackling Poverty.

I wish to update Assembly Members on work to promote Welsh Government’s ‘Principles for Working with Communities.’

Welsh Government has considered the variety of terms used to describe work with communities, acknowledged the need for Welsh Government to be clear about its expectations and discussed the current interest, within and outside of Welsh Government, in active communities. Given the current diversity of theory and practice relating to this field, it would be unhelpful if Welsh Government sought to promote one particular model of working.  Therefore, Welsh Government has set out the principles which, it believes, should underpin work with communities.

The Principles acknowledge previous and traditional models, along with levels of service, will not be possible in the future. Furthermore, they recognise Welsh Government’s powers and their limitations, the need to empower communities and develop new relationships to deliver what is required going forward, and contribute to the seven well-being goals in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

From Welsh Government’s perspective, the Principles for Working with Communities include:

  • the involvement of communities, service users and organisations in defining problems and in the identification, design, delivery and evaluation of new approaches,
  • recognition of shared responsibility to improve public services focused on outcomes and people’s needs,
  • mutual respect for the contributions of different partners in the process of designing and delivering services and improving outcomes, recognising roles will vary,
  • valuing diversity and promoting equality,
  • processes designed to recognise there are resources, capabilities and assets not just within public services but in communities too and ways should be found to release these and realise their potential to increase wellbeing,
  • readiness to adopt and invest in new ways of working in policy and delivery
  • transparency regarding how and by whom decisions will be taken.

The Principles are not meant as a replacement for well-established principles and practice used by community groups and public sector organisations. The Principles for Working with Communities are Welsh Government’s principles and this is the approach it will use when working with communities.

Other forms of collaboration and partnership working have continuing value and may be more appropriate where it is not possible or desirable to adopt the approach indicated by the Principles above.

Welsh Government will seek to promote and influence best practice and advocate for other bodies working with communities to adopt these Principles.

The affirmation by Welsh Government of the Principles for Working with Communities, signals an intention to harness the skills and experience of community groups and service users alongside public services. The Welsh Government’s Principles offer an opportunity to build trust, empower communities and develop a culture change within organisations and communities. The Principles and the approach they represent, will help build resilient communities, foster community well-being and support the agenda for community activism helping to combine community activity with strengthening public service delivery, for current and future generations.

Welsh Government will use various means to publish and promote the Principles, including Ministerial Statements and Guidance, legislation, procurement of goods and services and the development of structures such as community forums, citizen panels and working groups. The Principles link to the five key ways of workings that public bodies are required to take into account in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015. This includes the importance of involving people and acting in collaboration with any other person.

I have written to Ministerial colleagues to enlist their support in promoting our agreed Principles and encouraging the meaningful involvement of communities and the Third Sector in service redesign and delivery. I have tasked my officials with identifying further opportunities to promote the Welsh Government’s Principles for Working with Communities as I believe they have a key role to play in underpinning Welsh Government’s active communities agenda.

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