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Case Study:

Kirklees – Community Asset Transfer and mutual aid support

Kirklees Council has made a commitment to “work with and alongside” their local sector rather than “doing to”.

Published: 29 June 2022
2 minute read

The ambition

Kirklees Council has made a commitment to “work with and alongside” their local sector rather than “doing to”. They want to use the expert knowledge of those living and working in communities to shape council services and the focus of investment. This has been at the forefront of the council and VCSE sector’s new set of shared values and has been used to develop a Draft Kirklees VCSE Investment strategy. All this builds on the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw the council recognising the strengths of the sector to a greater extent that it previously had.

The action

There are several strands to the way in which Kirklees has supported local community organisations – over and above embedding ways of working into the council’s values and strategy.

Community assets are a vital part of a thriving community and Kirklees has recognised this through its Community Asset Transfer (CAT) programme. However, rather than just handing over control of an asset to a community, the transfer programme comes with a holistic programme of support for organisations before, during, and after asset transfer. The council’s Grant Access Point (GAP) provides a one-stop point of registration for community organisations with the council.

Furthermore, during the pandemic Kirklees took an equally supportive approach to the over 140 mutual aid and spontaneous neighbourhood groups which sprung up in early 2020. The council played a role as facilitator to bring together these groups with other local organisations in “connection calls”.

The result

The GAP process has proved a useful method for the council to collect valuable information about local organisations and carry out an organisational health check if needed to identify where additional support can be provided. So, this is not Kirklees Council acting as a barrier to funding or CAT, but a way of starting conversations with local organisations. It provides a development tool which can help to strengthen and build those relationships in the long run.

For its mutual aid support - beyond the initial pandemic response, these calls have been a way of continued communication with the VCSE sector and a further forum for open, trusting relationships to be built.

The learning

Developing these programmes and processes required an investment of time, resource, and knowledge by the council. However, it is key to the community capacity building element of the Keep it Local approach. It provides the foundation of a high-functioning local VCSE sector, which is able and ready to support the council to achieve shared aims.