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CAPEcast episode 2 transcript. Towards co-production – how academics can engage with local government

Sarah Chaytor 0:00
Hello and welcome to CAPEcast, the podcast for the Capabilities in Academic Policy Engagement project. I’m Sarah Chaytor, Director of Research Strategy and Policy at UCL and a Co-Investigator on CAPE, and I’m joined by Olivia Stevenson, who is also a Co-Investigator on CAPE.

CAPE is a partnership between UCL, the Universities of Cambridge, Manchester Northumbria, and Nottingham. We’re funded by Research England to explore ways of strengthening engagement between universities and public policy.

We’re delighted today to be joined by Jon Lloyd from the London Borough of Waltham Forest and Hayley Sims, formerly of the London Borough of Waltham Forest. CAPE has been working with Waltham Forest to develop some academic policy engagement activities, and we’re really pleased to have Jon and Haley with us today to just reflect a little bit on their experience of trying to bring academic expertise into some of the work they’ve been doing. So if we could kick off Jon, for people who aren’t familiar with Waltham Forest, telling us a little bit about what it’s like and what makes it unique and special.

Jonathan Lloyd 1:04
Firstly, what makes it special is we can’t believe that no one has heard of us! But for those that don’t know, it’s a borough in East London, roughly around 270,000 people, really diverse part of the country. 50% of people that live there are black or minority ethnic backgrounds really young, very young borough, and the kind of stark inquality that you’d expect to see in London. I suppose some of the kind of main areas of deprivation, are somewhat hidden by gentrification that’s happening across London but on the whole, they’re still some sort of stark inequality. It’s a really kind of friendly, vibrant and interesting place; I’ve lived there for a length of time and just pleased to call it home.

Sarah Chaytor 1:45
Thank you and Hayley you, we met you when you were working at Waltham Forest you’ve recently started a new job, with the London Borough of Islington and I wonder if that has prompted any reflections perhaps about some of the similarities or differences between the two.

Hayley Sims 1:57
Yeah, definitely; London’s such an interesting place and we’re divided up into these 32, different authorities, which in many ways are quite artificial boundaries because obviously we sort of exist across them. I mean, I live in North London. I probably identify as a North Londoner, but not specifically within Harringay. But at the same time… there are very specific identities and very specific characteristics that are attributed to each of the authorites. So within Islington, for example, is one of the smallest geographic areas but has the highest population density, whereas Waltham Forest is really renowned for its incredible breadth in its environment. So, in the southernmost part of the borough, it’s very built up around lakes and the old Olympic Stadium around there, but then in the North you’ve got Epping Forest. That kind of identity and sort of relationship to place and space is quite different across each of the London boroughs and we need to get to grips with the culture of our [local] authority. Starting [a new role] in lockdown and how difficult that’s been, then I think, as public servants home working has opened up quite a lot. But it’s quite weird working somewhere without physically being in that place because places, it’s so important to that identity. So I’ve been reflecting on it a lot but struggling to get my head around it at the moment with working from home.

Sarah Chaytor 3:22
That’s really interesting, thank you. It’ll be good to think a little bit then about some of the current policy challenges, and the policy priorities from Waltham Forest, perhaps particularly developing that point you just made Hayley about how that might pertain to the specific place in which Waltham Forest is, and how it identifies itself. Jon, do you want to kick us off?

Jonathan Lloyd 3:43
I suppose the one priority we think about all the time is how do we play a role in eliminating COVID. So the challenge at the moment is that we developed… a recovery strategy, just before the latest lockdown which now in a sense… isn’t a recovery strategy. Part of it has almost been put on ice whilst we mobilise the organisation and communities to deal with vaccination or testing or some of the kind of acute impacts of COVID. COVID really always on our mind but we are increasingly optimistically, talking about recovery. So the key challenges around that for Waltham Forest are jobs, and the impacts on terms of particularly youth unemployment. It looks huge at the moment, for example, Waltham Forest is fifth in terms of impact and our projections are even worse. So how do we how do we support that and support our residents to access good jobs through the next 12 months… And you know, I lived early days through the late 80s, and how do you stop short term unemployment becoming long term unemployment and those challenges around that.

I suppose the second big [priority] is around health and the impact of the pandemic has shown what we already knew really about health inequalities, but it’s not only exposed health inequalities it’s laid bare new ones. So we’re thinking about those communities particularly that have been impacted, the impact on isolation, whether that’s mental health or even physical exercise, how do we get people healthy, how do we meet the impacts of COVID, and how do we you know, prepare for unmet needs that we just haven’t seen seen yet.

And then a third key [priority] is really about place and how important it is and has been throughout the pandemic. For example, lots of people have, perhaps have even re-fallen in love with their local neighbourhood, used green space in new ways, found parks that [they didn’t know] were there, accessed independent shops that they didn’t access before…. and we’re talking about 15-minute neighbourhoods and a really inclusive way that really helps with recovery and also puts tackling the climate emergency at its heart. So those are the three areas where we think are interdependent, a real part of recovery for the borough and obviously our residents.

Sarah Chaytor 5:50
Thank you. And Hayley, your role in Waltham Forest was largely focused around equalities and inclusion and diversity and I wonder if you might want to pick up on some of those points and perhaps how those sit across really those three areas John has just outlined for us.

Hayley Sims 6:04
As you say Sarah, I was leading on the development of the equalities diversity and inclusion strategy in partnership with [CAPE] and I think that emerged from a lot of local authorities over the last year. So, you know, we saw the massive disproportionate impacts that COVID had on different communities, whether that be through the disproportionate death rates on Black and Asian minority ethnic communities or, you know, access to green space along class lines and lots of different experiences on employment etc with the shielding cohort. And so it kind of emerged through that recovery strategy that John mentioned, of saying like, you know, we have these immediate priorities that we really need to tackle, the jobs crisis is going to be massive and it’s going to hit us really hard, but one of the key things was confidence in our future. So how can we respond to these massive challenges now, whilst also building the infrastructure and sort of laying foundations for a better future basically and being confident that there’s going to be longevity in this recovery, and that we’re going to recover in the right way and sort of you know chime in with like build back better rhetoric from national policies.

And so the EDI [Equalities Diversity and Inclusion] strategy was about, sort of approaching that through the lens of structural inequalities, and knowing that if we don’t do something to narrow those inequalities now they’re only going to continue to diverge and get bigger and bigger and deeper and deeper. That’s what sort of, we were consciously so aware of through the pandemic as well as through the massive success of the Black Lives Matter protests, sort of putting stuff back on the national and local agendas, so it was a really key workstream, and it fed into a lot of that recovery narrative for the organisation but also, it’s such a massive thing, sort of how do we tackle structural inequalities. That was the ambition but then the work was okay, how do we translate that into something really tangible and meaningful for people that they can really sort of latch on to and we can actually weave that into our work and that’s where I think you guys [CAPE] came in, helping us to think through that dichotomy.

Olivia Stevenson 8:10
Fascinating, I wondered if we could stick with sort of the academic expertise into local authorities and as you’ve outlined, CAPE has been working with you, thinking about your, your EDI ambitions and into your corporate strategy but I wondered if you could kind of sketch out or talk about, you know, how do you think academic expertise can help local authorities and Waltham Forest in particular? And I suppose focusing in on, what do you think are some of the sort of biggest challenges that could be helped by academic evidence and expertise?

Jonathan Lloyd 8:43
I think it’s a really basic one and I wonder whether Hayley would agree with me that for Waltham Forest and many councils, it’s quite, it’s been quite relentless over the last year in terms of fighting fires, the type of response that we need. I’ll give you an example. Today, over half my policy team are actual vaccinators so they’re you know they’re putting injections in people’s arms, and where are my policy team? They’re in Walthamstow library, carrying out vaccinations. So it’s been, you know, an unusual funny crazy year indeed, not without trauma and not without kind of innovation and professional excitement. So it’s a really basic thing that [academic expertise] definitely helps us with in terms of facing how do we work with systemic challenge like structural inequality and how do we involve people… it actually forces us to think, because we are in a kind of delivery mindset and responding to crisis and we will right or wrong gravitate to solutions quite quickly. So even just the structure of being able to have conversations and reflecting has helped us not go down any number of rabbit holes or jumped to conclusions in ways that we would have done. And that’s partly the sense of delivery ethos of local government, and also I think a kind of a sense of the time.

I think, a second [challenge that could be helped by academic engagement] is just being able to, as an organisation we are quite passionate about politics, but we weren’t, we didn’t necessarily understand the policy landscape so just, just bringing in that experience from yourselves and other people, just to kind of probe and test and remind us of other ways of thinking, again, that slightly relates to the delivery mind you know you need to take your time on this. The way we were going to tackle some of the EDI, we planned to do it in three to six months, and the reflection and the expertise that we had from those policy conversations, made us realise and help us have conversations with elected members of how much longer the piece of work [needed to be], where the benefits were of doing that.

Olivia Stevenson 10:43
That’s really interesting, that sense that having time and scope and space to reflect and iterate is really important. But presumably that’s also sometimes at odds with kind of slightly relentless churn and the urgent need to do and deliver and implement things, because this is sort of this opening up and understanding what and where the evidence is but then there’s a second question of therefore how do you use it, how do you build it into your, your policy work and your development and your delivery. Do you think there’s a specific challenge there, in terms of marrying up time for reflection and for iteration with that need to just get on and do something, not least because this is all about, you know, people in their real lives and they may not want to wait around for three or six months well, whilst reflection is undergoing you know if actually you’ve got a problem now?

Jonathan Lloyd 11:31
I think timing is everything in working in particular with local government, because there is there is a kind of problem definition phase; sometimes that’s just a day. But there is then a discovery phase, and those are kind of the two big opportunitie for engaging in broader policy and evidence discussions. So I think that it’s almost identifying those opportunities as they occur. I’m not saying there aren’t other opportunities further along, understanding the evidence and talking about solutions in relation to the evidence. Those early opportunities are where Waltham Forest have gained the most value from that.

And then the second thing is almost identifying the type of problem. Is it, you know, is it just is it so fast that it is actually difficult… One of the relationships we’ve had with UCL is that there is a kind of menu of support you know sometimes it is a longer piece of research vessel that one kind of embeds themselves within, within the organisation a little more. Sometimes it is a workshop, so almost having that conversation, what type of thing is this. Have you got an opportunity to define a problem a little bit longer, have you got a time to discover that little bit longer and then we can kind of tailor around that and I think that that’s where the success is. A one fits all policy approach just wouldn’t work because of the just the complex array of pressures on local government to get stuff done.

Olivia Stevenson 12:53
That brings me as well to wondering whether there are, there’s something specific about the role that local authorities might have in addressing some of the policy challenges you’ve sketched out compared to national government and are there both perhaps things that are, it’s easier to do, and possibly things it’s harder to do as well?

Jonathan Lloyd 13:13
We are very close to delivery, so we can, whatever language you use, we can prototype and try stuff out. Which, you know, we’ve done through the pandemic, for example and learnt, learnt quite quickly, in a way that you might argue in some places central government hasn’t been able to do. So, you know, that’s a huge, huge benefit, I think. I think some of the kind of challenges and pressures are around the pace and time and resources. It is rare for us to tackle a problem that we don’t immediately want to solve, for us to be able to build a strong evidence base and act on it, it would be quite an unusual situation. It’s not like it doesn’t happen, but it will often happen in conjunction to all sorts of delivery, around it.

I think the big thing in addition to being able to prototype is the relationships that we have. So, you know when we’re when we’re acting and we’re trying stuff out, or when we’re responding or developing ideas you know we, we should and we do do it with residents or community groups and our partners. And to be able to kind of develop those relationships and act on them fairly quickly in a very practical non kind of stakeholder meeting type of way is, I find, hugely impactful and exhilarating.

Sarah Chaytor 14:28
It’s really interesting I think and CAPE is obviously working quite closely with both of you and your colleagues on your ambitions to increase democratic engagement and citizen participation in what the borough is trying to do. So I wonder if you could just say a little bit more about your approach to that and how you want to take that forward. And I suppose where you think academic expertise and evidence can help to underpin that that broader Citizen Engagement agenda.

Jonathan Lloyd 14:53
We’ve had a lot of support on this and a lot of discussion about participation over the time and indeed our previous organisation, it’s been incredibly helpful. I suppose what kind of challenge we’re having at the moment is, how broad is participation? Is it useful that it is everyday acts of kindness, helping someone with an overgrown garden, you know the other end is that it might be full on deliberation or attendeding a citizen assembly, and all the volunteering in between. Is [citizen engagement] a useful umbrella term for all those different types of activity? And currently, that’s what we’re running with so there’s a kind of overriding challenge that we’d love to talk to more about around that.

But there are probably three key areas [around citizen engagement] for us. And that would be around you know how do we, you know work, go straight to residents, particularly when it’s a representative group that reflects the exciting diversity of our borough, and how do we, how can we work with them and hand over power to develop solutions that we wouldn’t ordinarily come up with ourselves and solutions that, for example when we did the, we did the second assembly on hate incidences, which was one of the first in the world, and really kind of complex, contentious for some people, issue to tackle, perhaps almost reckless to pick that, in terms of citizens assembly. But, if you think about the huge benefits of facing that kind of contention and complexity is that you’ve got, you know, you’re not just putting the onus on people that are often victims of hate incidences, you’re actually bringing people who may have privilege and should have additional responsibilities and playing a role within the community, as well as people with lived experience and bringing that diverse representative group together creates much richer legitimate and deeper proposals which we’ve since acted on from bystander intervention training, rolling out in the borough. We learned quite a seismic moment for Waltham Forest and we just saw just the power and the benefits of acting that way and it’s used by politicians and senior leaders as well.

So since then, actually we’ve been through the pandemic we’ve been testing, like Citizen panel type approaches where we’re deliberating and making really fast decisions and testing ideas and getting challenged back again from representative everyday neighbours, members of the public, as we go and I suppose we’re a bit of a turning point now where we’re looking at the EDI work, which Hayley will speak more eloquently about, where, how do we take that to the next level over a longer period of time and really, really start to… if we’re going to tackle something over a long time how do we build new coalitions and new partnerships to deal with systemic challenges not with a shiny report but over time, over a long period of time.

Olivia Stevenson 17:25
Hayley do you want to add to that, thinking specifically about the EDI work, any other reflections, you might have?

Hayley Sims 17:30
Yeah, I think it’s, as John just hinted at towards the end, or around the ambition with the EDI work was to take what we learned from the citizens assembly, and other work that we’ve started to do around co-production and working more collaboratively with communities and, and really embed it in a kind of in a sustainable way, I guess, and citizens assemblies have massive benefits, and we were quite careful as well I think to make sure that it didn’t just drop off – presenting the recommendations but make sure that people were engaged on an ongoing basis. But at the same time it is limited to those sort of 40 people that you have in the room and they’ve stayed involved over a long period of time and we did a lot of pre-engagement around that process as far as possible, but I think with the EDI work, I think going back to what I was saying, at the beginning around it being such a systemic problem that, that would need kind of seismic change around, that goes for the participation as well and we really wanted it, we want it to be something that really sort of captures hearts and minds across the borough and can really sort of act as a bit of a – for risk of sounding sort of jargony – a bit of a golden thread through all of the work that we do as a council and make sure that people know that that’s like a real sort of call to action to get involved with on a really sustainable basis sort of ongoing and not just in this year but yeah, and sort of years to come. And I think sort of saying that out loud feels more abstract and that’s what was really useful, having the CAPE involvement with this having that space to sort of say “okay how do we translate these ideals and principles into something more meaningful?” “what does that look like?” and, yeah, I think, sort of, again, going back to what John was saying about the benefit of having academic involvement, it’s that it’s just time and additional headspace and it’s that kind of, “oh, we’ve got an idea” on like one in one chat we have on like a Tuesday afternoon, we don’t have any time later in the week to really reflect and dig and think ok: “What’s that mean? How do we – how do we do that?” Waltham Forest has that ambition to really embed and make co-production and collaborative democracy the bread and butter and just really part of all new policy development and new service delivery and then, but I think my sense is that it’s still at the stage where we’re trying to grapple with what that looks like and what that means, basically.

Olivia Stevenson 19:50
Yeah, I think that’s not unsurprising given that actually you think about sort of where co-production is happening on this scale and who’s doing it well and what are some of the kind of best, you know, best practice examples and, actually, I think, you know, colleagues, certainly, back in our host institutions would would say this is challenging and it’s hard to do but it’s a really worthwhile journey and it means you’ve kind of got to co-produce every single aspect from as you know, your, your strategy, your delivery, your interventions, your processes for citizen participation across, you know, across, across the board because that actually is the thing that brings the structural change so I certainly have really enjoyed working with Waltham Forest on this and kind of seeing the innovation journey that you’ve been going through – it’s hugely exciting. I’d be quite interested, if we could reflect a little bit on sort of potentially kind of advice or top tips that you might have for researchers who want to engage with local authorities, but they’re kind of on the outside, you know, what’s kind of the best way for them to get involved, get engaged and kind of think about their research and how it can be applicable to the kind of priorities of local authorities and in particular Waltham Forest.

Hayley Sims 21:07
I think there’s got to be an element of pragmatism, I think Jon kind of touched on this before – one of the benefits, probably the biggest benefit that academics can bring to local government, is that additional time and headspace and the ability to think things through in a world where, you know there isn’t time and resources and it’s very delivery focused, but at the same time, there’s an element of needing to be able to sort of merge into that world a little bit and I think that tension… So in my previous role, I worked a lot on large programme evaluations and I kind of came into that tension a lot between sort of policy and academia of kind of academics coming into things wanting things to be very robust and thought through and taking time and local authorities sort of wanting that robustness and that kind of credibility and authority, but just having like the idea that you would wait a year for results to come back with something being completely unthinkable. And so, like, trying to find some middle ground, I think, in the relationship between academics and policymakers in sort of being quite flexible and pragmatic about “okay, at what points are we going to be quite ideological, are we going to be quite concerned with how robust something is and at what point are we just going to think okay, we’ll just do it like this and we’ll be quite pragmatic” and able to tow that line I think and being able to be quite responsive and adaptive, I think is really important to make the case to local authorities that they should invest in academic thinking.

Olivia Stevenson 22:37
And Jon, I’d be interested in your reflections too.

Jonathan Lloyd 22:39
Yeah, probably less elegant, I’ll go with the practical tips, I suppose because that was really interesting. I suppose one thing about local government, obviously and not, in some ways, is just, you know you wouldn’t build a business that way is what some people say you know, a business that deals with rat infestation, and at the same time, you know runs, kind of special needs services – that’s quite a kind of quite a diverse range of things that local government does and I know that, navigating and that can be bewildering I know it is for many of our community groups and often they ask for a map and that will just make you even more confused…So there’s a bit of the need for resilience in terms of you know keep trying to develop contacts within local government. Often you know strategy and change departments are really, you know, a really good kind of starting point to help navigate that but it’s not – I think a bit of resilience and tenacity and in terms of developing those relationships is needed. There’s other kind of practical things that I think that many people in local government and perhaps elsewhere really value – plain English is, is absolutely essential. Just the range of audiences that we’re working with from elected members to residents to very vulnerable people – a starting point of, really, at the plainest possible English is something that is just so highly valued, and I mean – we have to rewrite everything that we do in terms of internally. I think the second thing is how much local government values kind of really accessible visualised evidence, it might be something to do with time, it might something with appetite, but often I think when you know when local government even engages with consultancy, you know, one of the key, key asks is “can you visualise this really effectively so I can communicate it and develop people’s interest in this work?” but I know those are quite practical things but they really do resonate with colleagues and resonate with my organisation.

Olivia Stevenson 24:35
The last point’s really fascinating about sort of yeah can you visualise your words in a different way, given that often the bread and butter of an academic is to write essentially – they write the data points rather than necessarily think about the kind of cards or graphs or visuals and I think that’s a really nice, a nice takeaway if you can say in a, in a graph rather than a long paragraph.

Sarah Chaytor 25:02
Yeah, I agree, really helpful. I wonder as well, I’m just thinking about what you reflected on earlier about the fact that within local government, there’s often that clearer focus or nearer focus on delivering so it’s not just about developing policies and thinking about what might be done it’s also moving pretty rapidly to implementation and delivery, and whether that partly is I suppose what’s in your top tips and the need for plain English and the need for very clear communication. Do you think there’s something distinctive about that kind of near to delivery approach in need that local government has that perhaps other other parts of the policy ecosystem don’t?

Jonathan Lloyd 25:36
I think so, and you have the additional dynamic of the factors that political organisations with elected members, as leaders of effectively an organisation. So that is quite…you know I think one thing that the challenge for CAPE and for us is how do we involve members at an early point in those policy conversations so they’re not the kind of recipients of evidence later on, but they’re involved to interrogate and obviously share that valuable insight and experience and from their role as council, but they also have their role in the community and I think… it will improve the quality of work. So the political dynamic is important as well as, as is the delivery is pretty much our first thought: deliver for residents. When we think about policy, we are thinking about how will this help us to deliver better services as ensured. Often, we’re dealing with problems that we’re expected to fix relatively quickly.

One of the challenges for us now if you look at our corporate strategy and look at some of the challenges that we talk about the most, from food poverty through to structural inequalities, through to areas around climate – they are fundamentally systemic challenges and I don’t know if it’s a reflection for us that if you went back 20 years, you know, would we be talking about such systemic challenges in our own strategies. Perhaps? I don’t know, but facing that complexity requires a whole new range of skills and policy discussions that we might not have even thought about needing a while ago and obviously it involves participation and involves a new array of evidence. It involves understanding the interactions between that evidence, and also involves kind of new levels of trust with people that are needed to get together and make that kind of systemic change together. And to me, policy is important but actually the process in which we bring residents and partners and academics together to build trust is where is where the real success can be in making the most impact.

Sarah Chaytor 27:32
That’s really fascinating, and actually it points to the fact that, I suppose, we often think and describe and articulate academic policy engagement as a bilateral process in between academia and universities, and between policy stakeholders and professionals, but actually there’s a triangulation isn’t there – because it’s doing that within a democratic system, so doing that in a way that is responsive to social and societal needs and concerns and citizen’s priorities. And there’s the role of elected representatives in that but there is also that the thing that we’ve been discussing, which is how you reach out to the broader citizenship. I think that’s really interesting to reflect on particularly in terms of developing the corporate strategy as you alluded to. I wonder if you could just talk us through how that was developed and how you see the implementation of the corporate strategy picking up some of their sort of political and citizenship? I suppose, aspects that you’ve just been sketching out.

Jonathan Lloyd 28:24
Our corporate strategy was developed at a time, almost when we thought that potentially we could be coming out of the pandemic… but we found [that] the aspirations around those three areas from healthy lives, jobs, and 15 minute neighbourhoods still stand. So the moment we’re doing our participation exercises from mass engagement. For example, we had 6000 people respond to surveys, we’ve been doing things with a citizen panel for example, some things nice little bit citizen science sharing a photo of something they’re looking forward to so we can really understand kind of hopes, as well as the fears where people are sharing their… their anxieties, and some of the difficulties they’re facing now and potentially in the future. So a whole range of kind of research and engagement to kind of help shape and perhaps relive and redefine some of the some of those priorities.

Going forward, they are fundamentally quite systemic challenges, there are huge levers that we can pull to improve employment, for example, and you know that they’re there, you know they’re actions from massive kickstart schemes through to, you know, using central government’s push on green infrastructure to maximise jobs for young people, there’s things we can do. But there are some things, particularly around climate for example and around some of the kind of 15 minute neighbourhoods where… where we need new participatory approaches and we’re looking at, you know, working together in in new ways, and thinking about how CAPE can play a really important role in that.

So let’s pick another example of food poverty, you know, we want to work with food banks in ways that are really beneficial for them, that really respects their absolute critical role in the community. So, at the same time we want to understand the system around them, around poverty, a little bit more – so we want to work with them to bring in evidence base, bring in policy thinking of…how we can improve our food resilience and tackle food poverty as a whole. But the same time, you know use service design to help them improve their systems and processes so it’s a kind of again, it’s that mix of very practical, which is totally important for improving delivery, and just, you know some of the kind of broader policy thinking that’s designed to push and discuss and export complexity simultaneously and finding new ways to deal with that complexity and deal with the practical, that we can deliver fast is, is fundamentally probably our challenge and our challenge within the corporate strategy.

At the heart of it all is a belief in public service and we frame public service in a sense of you know, it’s not how we deliver things, in fact it’s the act itself and it builds upon a community response; the fact that council officers were redeployed to do incredibly difficult things. The fact that it was a time for public servants like ourselves to step up and show what we’re made of; all those kind of sentiments captured within our public service strategy and a definition of public service to deal with those challenges.

Olivia Stevenson 31:24
That’s really fascinating, and the idea of almost embedding different aspects of co-production to help take forward the corporate strategy. And in particular it’s that idea isn’t it of using that model of co-creation and co-production to advance the priorities of some of your partners and collaborators, as well as thinking about you know the council’s own priorities, and then doing it in a way that is really responsive to local needs. I mean we could explore this for another hour at least… I just wonder if, thinking about that, and as you take the corporate strategy forward and as you continue to manage, you know the impacts of the pandemic and those other priorities you’ve sketched out, what would good academic policy engagement look like in helping Waltham Forest to meet some of its aims? In maybe just a sentence or two, you know what would you really want to get out of spending time and effort – because it does take time and effort – in building those closer connections with academic research and evidence?

Jonathan Lloyd 32:22
For me I mean, I feel the battle of my service and my immediate colleagues, we can see the value already. What good would look like would be our partners such as food banks and activist community groups really being part of seeing the benefit of that work and developing and understanding policy together.

Sarah Chaytor 32:45
Great, thank you. Beautifully succinct. Hayley, what about you, either with your old Waltham Forest hat on, or thinking about your new role in a different London borough?

Hayley Sims 32:54
Yes, I was thinking along similar lines, as Jon actually, like, I think “good” would be would be a really sort of cohesive community of sort of partners and stakeholders delivering good outcomes to the residents, which also includes academics as part of that. So, when Jon was talking before I was thinking about the 21st century, public servant model and what that is and, you know, there’s such a shift at the moment, going from, you know, policymaking being about sort of technical expertise to people being more kind of facilitators and enablers and engaging with community and with that comes co-production. I certainly wonder, academics, maybe that’s part of the sort of the facilitation that, you know, we’re sort of generalists who can then facilitate that expertise being brought in and I think, yeah, moving towards a model where that can be yeah brought in, alongside communities and members, as Jon was saying, as more of a kind of cohesive coalition together – I think that’s the utopia.

Olivia Stevenson 33:53
Brilliant, I completely agree. Thank you. I wonder if we could just finish – I mean we’ve covered a lot in a relatively short space of time – I wonder if we could just finish by asking both of you to offer any final reflections on your hopes for the future, or some of the previous frustrations you’ve encountered that you hope not to repeat. And where would you like your engagement, and your various engagement with academia to go?

Jonathan Lloyd 34:17
Well I’d like to build on some of the strengths that we, that we have. I mean, for me, it would be about, heads of service, delivering for services around you know enforcement for example, thinking, you know, I would like to have a policy discussion about how I can improve my service delivery and some of the kind of evidence that sits around it. And then work together to help, you know, help frame, what could we explore to improve that. And I think those are challenging; we talked a lot about complexity but… there’s huge academic joint working possibilities around how we might improve the prospects of, you know, missed bins, or number of people on pupil premium. And I think that, I think at the moment we’re probably, we’re drawn to academics with expertise around complexity around some kind of really kind of knotty stuff but actually, for it to be much more embedded – it’s not been that kind of you know strategic kind of corporate place where it always just happens.

Sarah Chaytor 35:11
Thank you, and Hayley?

Hayley Sims 35:12
Yeah, I would agree with that, I don’t think I’ve got anything else to add really…but yeah it becoming, it would be really exciting for academic engagement to become more normal, I guess, and less of a novelty and more just kind of embedded in tackling problems however big or small… Yeah, that would be great.

Sarah Chaytor 35:31
Well, that’s certainly lots of food for thought for us, and lots of room for the CAPE programme to reflect on… Particularly, I think that, that last idea you’ve left both left is embedded, no matter how big or small, the problem, is something we need to take away and do more.

You’ve been listening to CAPE cast with Sarah Chaytor and Olivia Stevenson. Thank you very much to Jon Lloyd, and Hayley Sims for joining us today. I hope you’ve enjoyed the conversation, I know I have, and we will see you next time. Thanks and bye bye.

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