Looking Back Whilst Moving Forward: Ambition for Ageing’s lessons learned and their implications for future commissioning

Drawing upon six years of learning, this report exists as a legacy for the Ambition for Ageing programme, and to have a continued positive impact on associated asset-based community development programmes set to take place in the future.

The purpose of Ambition for Ageing was to connect communities and people through the creation of relationships. Putting older people at the heart of designing the places in which they live, the programme facilitates the development of existing assets within communities and allows older people to act as the major driving force behind the direct investments made in their neighbourhoods.

The report brings together learning from the numerous outputs of the programme, including their published resources. This report outlines the journey and causes of lessons learned; the factors at play in their creation, and how our experience can inform future commissioning and design.

The recommendations from the report focus on three key audiences: commissioners, programme and project delivery organisations and communities.

Recommendations for commissioners:

  • We need to take greater precedence on those organisations which hold an underpinning and supportive role in communities.

  • Applications processes must be tailored to the market. Commissioners should give consideration to alternative forms of application to ensure smaller, community based organisations are not excluded or deterred from applying.

  • Encourage partnership-working, and create spaces where competition is minimized to encourage community organisations with shared interests to work together.

  • Encourage likelihood of wider community design and participation by asking “What could £2,000 do for your community?”. This instigates consideration and contribute to participation and innovation.

Recommendations for programme and project delivery organisations:

  • It is important to know your community. Seek advice from those with lived experience and create opportunities for those marginalized to have a voice.

  • Be flexible in your working practices; it is important to be adaptable and not make assumptions.

  • Ensure resource is in place to deliver a programme comprehensively. Support from staff with understanding of communities is vital.

  • Recognise the need for partnership working; it is important to build in time for reflection, to be critical of your work and invite feedback from others. It is useful to develop your networks and seek learning from a variety of sources.

Recommendations for communities:

  • It is important that communities recognise their skills and the value that they bring. Embrace a culture of participation by creating opportunities for bonding and bridging social capital. This will contribute to your community’s development.

The report is available to download below.

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