How do you make other public policies roll out using and promoting local communities; through local knowledge sourced by local people, knowing that when it happens and is seen to happen, we all feel a great deal better? I worked as a youth and community worker, there was a time when the government needed to know the number of homelessness people across all areas of England. In order to do this a team from London came to our area in West Cumbria to do a homeless sleepers count. This was welcomed. However, the London team looked for homelessness in the areas where homelessness occurred in London. The local team in the local area was not asked either before or during or after for local knowledge to where the homeless in Workington and surrounding areas, bedded down for the night. In consequence the numbers did not reflect in any way reality of the area. Indeed, it was factually inaccurate. The local team felt devalued and we were left feeling that government policy decisions only paid lip service in looking beyond London (because they only used London parameters) to gain a broader basis upon which decisions were met. More positively, in the recent Covid vaccination rollout our local area GP partnership orchestrated an amazing efficient locally targeted program of vaccination, in cooperation with local and existing volunteer network. They were able to complete 600 – 1000 vaccinations per day when the supply allowed. Indeed such was their success that Prince William phoned to congratulate them and the Prime Minister mentioned the town as an exemplar by name. We all in Cockermouth felt incredibly proud of what is a government led policy decision. It seems to me that somehow public policies are enhanced through local knowledge sourced in the locality by local citizens.
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