People Know How and Ragged University Working Together
On meeting Glenn Liddall of People Know How, I was very pleasantly surprised. We had been introduced because we are both involved in the idea of cultivating community and trying to create opportunities for people where they are most needed. My role in Ragged University is to listen to people, appreciate the time and energy they have invested in their subject, and try and support them get where they want to be – wherever that is.
Glenn has a similar vision, and we met and discussed the possibilities of People Know How and Ragged University working together in partnership. What grabbed me is the humanity that Glenn carries around with him. From the off I got the sense that he understands that life is messy, complex and non-standard; and that helping people starts with listening and forming a conversation.
People Know How is an organisation that I am convinced is socially innovative in a time which desperately needs it. Our communities are suffering as more and more realms, which were traditionally the domain of personal and interpersonal agency, are financialized, regulated through policy, and closed off to the creative emergent organic behaviours which make us human.
Many artists feel the work emerge out of the canvas. It is case of discovering what sculpture sits within a block of marble. Planning life is all too often a convenient fiction of the managerial mind. Inside the managerial fiction the world is perceived as neat, organized, and consistent. In practice, we all know this to be troubling as an absolute template. Living and working in the world is messy and inconvenient.
Working with a person and organisation which understands social realities as emerging over time is very important. People often find an agenda an uneasy premiss to build a cooperative relationship on, particularly as life changes its course, like a river over time.
I think the vision of Glenn, and the individuals in People Know How, is very important. It is a listening organisation attempting to respond to needs rather than impose its presence through cumbersome ideas of help. I am brought to thinking about Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum in their development of the Human Capabilities approach.
The model that is emerging is interesting as it not only bootstraps socially oriented community organisations, but it is set to evolve into a training/learning space where people can develop the reflective skills parallel to the practical. People Know How will be training people to help people help people – in a more circular than linear way. Simultaneously, they are creating conduits into and from formal learning institutions which work hard to broaden their engagement spreading their knowledge.
I, and Ragged University, will be pleased to develop and be developed in such a balanced, reciprocal interrelationship. I also recommend that you support Glenn and People Know How in their work which builds community.
People Know How has developed four strands of work:
1. People Know How – Social Innovation Academy
We are developing a training programme that will equip volunteers (initially) and students (in subsequent years) to carry out community development, community consultation, social research and use methods to design innovative solutions to social issues. This is being developed with Queen Margaret University and Opening Educational Practices in Scotland Project (linked with Open University). More
2. People Know How – Consultation
We are consulting with children and young people across Edinburgh, East and MidLothian. The consultation aims to ascertain what the issues of the day are for them and how they consider PKH could respond. PKH will then develop and trial a project to support children and young people based on these findings. This work is funded by the BIG Lottery – Investing In Ideas.
3. People Know How – Volunteers Supporting Schools
We are consulting with stakeholders, gathering and analysing research toward designing a service to support children and young people in schools whilst offering meaningful opportunities and training for people to volunteer and work in these schools.
4. People Know How – Associates
We are developing an associate programme where PKH will work to mutual benefit with people or networks that have a passion and knowledge in a particular specialism to develop an innovative way of working. We are currently looking at two different pieces of work. Firstly, a programme that would support young people in exploring their sexual identity, health and relationships. Secondly, we are working with a newly established network of people and organisations looking at the needs of the growing community of Spanish speaking people in Edinburgh.