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2014 Embedding skills to address everyday conflict: A learning report on 10 years of activity in Bristol, SW England

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Abstract

Founded in Bristol, SW England in 2001, and constituted as a not-for-profit in 2003, Community Resolve worked to strengthen community relationships and build connections across city networks and hierarchies. The organisation emerged from the thinking of a small group of community mediators who had an interest in exploring cross-cultural conflict. They developed an untried approach to community divides, of developing a shared language around everyday conflict while embedding conflict management skills in individuals across all walks of life. Over the decade, Community Resolve’s strong commitment to an ethos of inclusivity and respect engaged an extraordinary range of people from across Bristol backgrounds and life experiences - from the poor to the rich, the educated to those without qualifications - who connected with the organisation as workers, volunteers, steering group members, supporters and commissioners, alongside thousands of service users. This learning report includes findings from independent qualitative research interviews with 40 people who knew the organisation from a range of perspectives. The aim of the research, which was funded by Esmee Fairbairn, was to throw some light on how a small organisation with such a flexible, organic structure and a startlingly diverse group of workers was able to achieve so much in so short a time. Access more information by downloading app 'Community Resolve' - from Apple or Android stores
Embedding skills to

A learning report on 10 years
of activity in Bristol, SW England
Contents
Acknowledgements
With all thanks to:
• Esmée Fairbairn Foundation for funding this report
• Everyone who agreed to take part in the research
• The research team of Phoebe Beedell, Cecile Jagoo
& Lisa Toser, with Paul Hoggett
• Lois Yellowthunder, Joanna Holmes & Martha Wilkinson for their
insightful comments
ThendingsintheSection3ofthisreportwereprovidedby
Phoebe Beedell and Cecile Jagoo, with additional commentary by
HenWilkinson.Sections1,2&4ofthereportwerewrittenby
HenWilkinsonwithinputfromSiu-mingHart,bothfoundermembers
of Community Resolve and currently both Directors of limited
company Community Resolve Training. They are also Trustees of
Community Resolve charity, which continues to support small local
skill-andcommunity-buildinginitiativesinBristol.
Bristol, June 2014
Front cover pics, from top left - some of the Community Resolve people
over the years:
JuliePerkins,MarleneStewart,AkbarAli,JosephAllison,NadineBourne,
BillFinch,DavidDoe,MobsTimi-Biu,DianaWarden,JermaineMajor,HenWilkinson,
AmandaRadix,WarrenMorrison,NatashaKhan,TeteAshbourne,RoodaKulah,
MoSaid,HardipKaur,WaheedAhmed,JadeRoyal,AngicoDaley,Siu-mingHart,
Jayson Morrison, Isobel Clarke
There were many many more who contributed time, energy and ideas –
to name but a few...
YusufAhmad,TammaraAnderton-Boyd,DeasyBamford,AnnieBeardsley,
TremayneBeckford,OmariCato,AnneClarke,ShobhaDas,AlisonHope,LizHine,
PaulHoggett,PaulHolder,NathalieGrifn,ChrisJohnston,RasCoujoeMudada,
LynnPartt,NikPitcher,CharleneRichardson,AlidaRobey,ShireenShah...
Community Resolve
Limitedcompany:0842095
Not-for-protlimitedcompany:4868736
Registeredcharity:1141962
3Contents
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 4
SECTION 1 – BACKGROUND 8
1.1 Bristolandwidersocialcontext 8
1.2 How and why did the organisation emerge? 9
1.3 What did the work address? 11
Box Driving forces - qualities for building community 10
SECTION 2 – STRUCTURE AND FUNCTION 12
2.1 How Community Resolve grew 12
2.2 Organisational response to a changing world 15
Box Case study: A tower block in disarray 13
Table 1 Mediation principles as organisational values 14
SECTION 3 – THE IMPACT RESEARCH 16
3.1 Aimsandtimingfortheresearch 16
3.2 Who took part? 16
3.3 What did the research look at and how? 18
3.4 Keyresearchndings 19
- A. Building a diverse & resilient organisation 19
- B. Empowerment and leadership 21
- C. Credibility and independence 24
- D. Evaluating impact 26
SECTION 4 – TO FOLLOW UP... 28
4.1 Organisational learning 29
4.2 Funding innovative work in challenging times 30
4.3 Community engagement 30
4.4 Replication and scaling up 31
4.5 Goingforward 31
Box Theory and practice framework 28
APPENDICES
Apdx 1 Selectionofdelivery2003-2013 33
Apdx 2 Drawing on international theory and practice 37
Apdx 3 Research and participant information 39
Apdx 4 Aplaceofsafety&inspiration 41
* = useful web link, see page 43 for web addresses
Contents
Contents
4Executive summary
In 2001, two groups of young men living either side of Bristol’s M32
motorway attacked each other with knives and machetes – not for the
rst time, nor the last. At the same time, Bristol – a compact, relaxed and
to that point overwhelmingly white city in SW England - was faced with
new arrivals and was struggling to cope with one of the highest rates of
demographic change in the country. These challenges were being played
out in the more disadvantaged communities across the city, with tensions
and conicts on the streets, in schools, in tower blocks.
FoundedinBristol,SWEnglandin2001,andconstitutedasanot-for-prot
in2003,CommunityResolveworkedtostrengthencommunityrelationships
and build connections across city networks and hierarchies. The organisation
emerged from the thinking of a small group of community mediators who had an
interestinexploringcross-culturalconict.Theydevelopedanuntriedapproach
to community divides, of developing a shared language around everyday
conictwhileembeddingconictmanagementskillsinindividualsacrossall
walks of life. Over the decade, Community Resolve’s strong commitment to an
ethosofinclusivityandrespectengagedanextraordinaryrangeofpeoplefrom
acrossBristolbackgroundsandlifeexperiences-fromthepoortotherich,the
educatedtothosewithoutqualications-whoconnectedwiththeorganisation
as workers, volunteers, steering group members, supporters and commissioners,
alongside thousands of service users.
Thislearningreportincludesndingsfrominterviewswith40peoplewhoknew
the organisation from a range of perspectives. The aim was to throw some
lightonhowasmallorganisationwithsuchaexible,organicstructureanda
startlingly diverse group of workers was able to achieve so much in so short a
time. However, this was not a seamless operation, and the report also highlights
challenges and stumbling blocks the organisation encountered along the way.
Esmée Fairbairn’s* interest in disseminating the learning from Community Resolve
hasallowedustoreectdeeplyontheorganisation’scitywideimpactsincethe
BristolofcesclosedinJune2013.Suchcommitmentfromafunderforsucha
pieceofresearchisunusual,andweareextremelygratefulfortheirsupport.
Executive
summary
Contents
5
‘I was always able to identify problems in the community, but didn’t know
how to nd solutions… Community Resolve taught me methods to work
out solutions… and write projects around them…’ Worker
Thereportndingsareclear:CommunityResolvecertainlymadeadifferenceto
the lives of many, many people and organisations across the city and beyond,
creating a ‘powerhouse’ of ideas and activity that built on everyday skills found
up and down the country. But the question remains – can this learning be useful
elsewhere? The report acknowledges the importance of all individuals involved,
andofhavingaleadergurewithastrongvisionfortheorganisation.Inaddition,
wesuggestthatthereareanumberofspeciclearningpointstotakefromthe
CommunityResolveexperiencethatcouldbeusefulacrossarangeofsettings:
• Successfullyembeddingskillsandorganisationswithincommunities
(or groups, or institutions), and especially across diverse communities,
requires a demonstrated commitment to independence, impartiality,
respect and consistency.
• To genuinely value and use local knowledge, instead of simply paying lip
service to it, requires a mature response from traditional ‘power holders’, as
it implies a considerable shift in how they commission, manage and evaluate
community-facingwork.
• Gettingbuy-infromacrosstherangeofpeopleinacityrequiresafacilitated
structurethatallows‘co-design’–solutiondesignthatbuildsinideasfrom
acrossthespectrumofexperienceandknowledge,includingpeopleonthe
ground, practitioners, residents, policy makers, thinkers and theorists.
• Managingsuchadiversityofviewischallengingbutultimatelyextremely
creative, as well as promoting a model of respectful working across divides
and difference – culture, age, economic status, class, etc.
• One route to managing such diverse teams is to work with the principles of
community mediation both as a way to structure internal organisation and
communication,andtofacilitateexternal/communitymeetings.
• Acentralelementinthis‘walkthetalk’approachisacommitmentto
self-knowledgeandreection-reexiveworking–linkedtoanethosof
ongoinglifelongpersonaldevelopmentatalllevelsofanorganisation.Such
organisational commitment to learning and openness is very evident to those
they work with.
• Being responsive to community need requires an internal structure that is
exibleandadaptive,recognisingthateverythingisalwaysonthemove.
Executive summary
6
Contents
Ononeoccasion,wewereaskedbyamuchlargerinternationalconictorganisation
how we would describe ourselves if we were a shop. They saw themselves as a
large supermarket chain... and we saw ourselves a corner shop. This was because
we recognised the value of the bonds between us individually, and with our local
communities, and knew that if these were diluted too far the ‘powerhouse’ function of
the organisation would be weakened.
Corner shops all over the country are the same but different, according to who runs
them.Somearegreat,somearegrotty,mostaresomewhereinbetween.Allhave
their own feel and their own clientele. But those who succeed best are those who pay
attention to who comes in and what they buy. They are friendly to their customers, ask
their opinion on new lines or new looks for the shop, listen to what they say and are
quick to respond accordingly. We suggest that such a model of community training is
possible across the country, at a small and targeted scale.
On scaling up...
It is important to acknowledge that some of the points above are easier to
achieve in a smaller organisation – although many would add tremendously to
the impact of larger and statutory bodies too. This relates directly to the question
of scaleability and whether with more money, Community Resolve could have
continued to deliver in the same way. This was a discussion we had several times
over the years, as we grew.
This is not a ‘how to do’ report, and especially not ‘how to do with no money...’.
There needs to be a recognition of the timeframes involved in positive social
change(muchlongerthanalocalornationalelectionterm,forexample),andin
the need for upfront investment in a truly skilled and embedded team – although
thiswillreapmassivesocialandeconomicbenetsdowntheline.Whatthereport
doesaimtodoistooutlineascompleteapictureaspossibleofthecomplex
multi-layeredoperationthatCommunityResolvebecame,andpointthewayfor
furtherreection.
Section 1givesabriefoverviewoftheBristolandBritishcontextthatthe
organisation emerged into, as well as setting out the need for the work and the
picture of underlying issues that emerged as the organisation grew.
Section 2 details the structure and functions of the organisation, including its
foundations in the principles of mediation and the importance it gave to local
knowledge and peer leadership.
Section 3 presentsthendingsoftheevaluationresearchasprovidedbyan
independent research team, as well as the research approach taken and who
the researchers talked to.
Section 4 highlights what has been learnt and what issues presented themselves
as during the research. It also discusses whether and how the learning
Community Resolve can be built on, ‘scaled up’ or replicated elsewhere.
Executive summary
7
Contents
Where is the organisation now?
AfterclosingtheBristolofce,CommunityResolvetransformedintoalimited
company to deliver training across the country and beyond. This allows us to
embed skills in communities where we are not present, providing accredited
onlineandface-to-facelearningatOCNandMasters-level(combiningtheoryand
practice), while supporting community activists and organisers with programmes
ofsupervision,groupreectionandmentoring.Feedbacktoouronlineandface-
to-facetraininghasbeenoverwhelminglypositive.Asaresultweareexpanding
delivery to provide:
• courses in mediation skills to use in a range of ways, including in organisational
development;
• targetedskills-supportforfrontlineworkersinanyaspectofcommunity,
from health to housing;
• new media learning opportunities, translatable into a full range of languages,
to share overseas.
Meanwhile,CommunityResolvenon-prot&charityremainsdormantandready
andwaitingforwhenthelocalcontextchangesagainandsomeonewithanew
vision for the organisation picks up the reins.
Hen Wilkinson, Director
www.communityresolve.co.uk
Executive summary
Contents
Background
to the organisation 1
8Chapter 1 Background to the organisation
1.1
Bristol and wider
social context
1.2
How and why did
the organisation emerge?
1.3
What did the work
address and how?
Box
Driving forces - qualities
for building community
1.1 Bristol and wider social context
Bristol is rich – it has above average numbers of graduates in the city, wages
andhouseprices.Nonetheless,someofthemostprosperousareasintheUK
sitsidebysidewithsomeofthemostdeprived,withroughly15%ofBristol’s
2013populationof432,500livinginneighbourhoodswhichsufferfromthesame
highlevelsofdeprivationin2013astheydidin1999.In2010,forexample,14
wardswereinthemostdeprived5%inEngland.Between2003-2013,Bristol’s
populationisreckonedtohaveincreasedbyaround38,000,withexceptional
populationrisesincentralBristolwardsofupto62.2%.Thisrelatestoarapidly
changingpopulationmake-upincentralBristol,witha‘minorityethnic’gure
of8.2%in2001doublingto16%by2011.Thiswaspartlycausedbyalarge
growthinSomaliandPolishpopulationsinthecity,peakingin2005,butthey
werenottheonlyonestoarrive.In2013,Bristolresidentswerethoughttobe
practising45religions,torepresentatleast50countriesofbirth,andtospeak
91mainlanguages.However,theunequaldistributionofthisdiversityacrossthe
cityisstartling,withsignicantdifferencesbetweenthecitycentreandoutlying
areas-inthecentralLawrenceHillward,forexample,55%ofresidentsbelong
toaminorityethnicgroupcomparedtojust4%inWhitchurchPark.Increasing
diversity is likely to be a feature of Bristol’s future population.
Community Resolve’s arc of growth took place at an interesting and challenging
time.Asitstartedout,Labour’sNeighbourhoodRenewalprogrammewasstillin
fullswingandlargepartsofcentralBristol–suchastheNewDealforBartonHill
–wereonthereceivingendofthesepolicies.Atthetime,therewasanopenness
both within the city and through national government programmes to the idea
of communities managing themselves and skilling up local people, and funding
to support such work. In part this was in response to the 2001riots* in Bradford
and Oldham, which led to more open discussion of the dynamics of cohesion in
theUK,andmediationwasthebuzzwordofthemomentforcentralgovernment.
Atthesametime,however,asteadyriseofIslamaphobiafollowing
the NewYork2001attacks* was becoming interwoven with government thinking
aboutfundingforcommunitywork,whichwasfurtherexacerbatedbythe
London bombings*in2005.Theseprovokedconsistentlycorrosivediscussions
about entitlement, welfare and ‘loyalties’ of those seen as ‘new arrivals’ to
9
Contents
Britain, characterised by the targeted ‘Prevent’ agenda which divisively funded
grassroots groups within the Muslim communities across Britain in order to
counter‘homegrownterrorism’.Similaranxietiesthenemergedaboutthe
concernsofmarginalisedwhitecommunitiesandtheriseoffar-rightgroups
such as the EDL, leading to another change in funding priorities as the then
PrimeMinisterTonyBlairdeclaredthat‘Britain’smulticulturalexperimentwas
over’inDecember2006.Bythetimeofthe2008globalnancialcrash,* and all
the huge implications at local government and grassroots levels that followed,
the environment for work such as Community Resolve’s, which was not about
numbercrunchingbutaboutseedsowinginaslow,long-termcommitment
tosocialchange,becamedistinctlymoredifcult.A‘domino’effectfollowed,
as government programmes to support social development were withdrawn,
foundationsandtrustswhosestocksandshareshadfallenbecamesqueezed,
and local authorities and other commissioning bodies had to withdraw support
forcommunity-facingprogrammes.
Assuchprioritiesdroppedoffthelocalandnationalagendas,andaslocal
statutory leadership became less visionary and less supportive of innovative
work,theorganisationdecidedtocloseitsBristolofce.ItsBristoldelivery
programmeendedinJune2013althoughCommunityResolveitselfcontinues
toexist(seep31).
1.2 How and why did the organisation emerge?
Community Resolve started as a small group of community mediators pooled
their contacts and knowledge to see what ideas they could produce in response
todemographicchangesinthecity,whichwereexacerbatingasenseof
marginalisation among already marginalised geographic, cultural and youth
communities. They were also convinced that the principles of mediation had
much to offer if used on a larger scale than between neighbours, and all had a
personalinterestinexploringcross-culturalcommunicationandconictstyles
drawingontheirownlifeexperiences.Astheorganisationdevelopedsite-specic
work across central Bristol (the most diverse area of the city), its organic structure
remained rooted in mediation principles (seeboxp14) which proved to be a
truly empowering stance for those within the organisation as well as those they
worked with.
‘[They] lled a role: saw a particular issue that was very serious and tried
to deal with it and had considerable success in doing so, but [they] have
been a casualty of a real sea change in the funding landscape... both in
the city and the country.’ Externalpartnerorganisation
Chapter 1 Background to the organisation
10
Contents
Whatbecameclearwasthatconictstheywereaskedtogetinvolvedwith
-clashesbetweenindividualsorgroups,neighbours,dysfunctionalteamsor
organisations – often seemed one thing on the surface, but were underpinned
byamuchmorecomplexsystemofstructuralandrelationshippowerstruggles
andblocks.Noneofthecommunityconictstheorganisationdealtwithover
a decade had a single, linear ‘solution’, but required careful unpicking through
multiple strands of activity. This reinforced Community Resolve’s stance of always
startingwithanopen-mindedinvestigationoftheissuestogetanunderstanding
ofthewidersocial,politicalandhistoricalcontext,beforetakinganiterative,step-
by-stepapproachtoachievesustainable,long-termchange.
Workingonconictsinthisway,withapreviouslyuntriedapproachofembedding
skills in individuals across a city in all walks of life and social status, produced
anextraordinaryrangeofworkoverthefollowingdecade.Hundredsofpeople
contributedtheirtimeandexperiencetodeveloptheorganisation.Itisthis
aspect of Community Resolve – the way it engaged and involved such a wide
rangeofpeopleandtheirideas,remainingproductive,exibleandadaptable
through changing times – that has led to this report. How was that achieved,
andwhatcanbelearntfromthatexperience?
Driving forces... network building in community
PreparingthisreporthasbeenexceptionallyhelpfulinunderstandingtheCommunity
Resolveexperience–a‘rollickingrollercoasterride’,accordingtoonefounder
member. We suggest that the qualities listed below were crucial for this form of
community network leadership, were present in the Director, and were found to
onedegreeoranotherinallthoseworkingintheorganisation.Asaresult,the
organisation’scorevalueswereampliedacrossthebreadthofcommunitieswewere
connected to, leading to its ‘sum greater than the parts’ impact across the city.
Improvisation and exibility–seeandconsiderunexpectedopportunities,abilityto
think on feet, be open and prepared for shifting sands, ‘serendipitous contacts’
Buttery connector –usepolitical,social,economiccontactstondandbounce
ideas,collectnewinformation,planjointactionbringtogetherseeminglydisparate
ideas and links, and make connections in the moment
Ability to mobilise and amplify – get people moving and encourage them to mobilise
their own networks
Take decisions quickly, trusting instincts–NBsometimesthiswon’tworkout…
Move ideas into action – bring ideas alive, including an ability to anticipate responses
to those actions
No such thing as mistakes – be willing to try new approaches, and change direction
iftheydon’tworkout-‘nofault’ethos
Conceptualising possible futures – see the relevance and possible practical
applications of new ideas and concepts
Intuitive recruiting–ndindividualswithall/someofthesequalities(andmore)
beforeprovidingtraining/ethos/environmenttodevelopthesequalitiesfurther.
Chapter 1 Background to the organisation
11
Contents
1.3 What did the work address?
Overtheyears,theorganisationworkedalongsideagenciesofallsizes-from
schools, universities and local council departments to voluntary groups, the police
andyouthjusticeinstitutions–tointroducenewwaysto:
• manageconictcreativelyacrosssocialdividesviatraining,groupwork,
1-1support,mentoring,large-scaleworkshopsandcommunityfacilitation
• address clashes between different cultural groups (class, age, faith, nationality
of origin, etc) and communities in ways that developed respect
and understanding to prevent them escalating to violence
• raise acceptance of difference among young people and to challenge
territorialismthroughwhatwasinitiallycalledtheBristolGangAwareness
Project,andthenbecameacity-widetrainingandpreventativeprogramme
foryoungpeopleaged8-25aroundissuesofstreetviolence,weaponuse
and life choices
• understandthesystemicnatureoflocalcommunityconicts,whether
overt(neighbourhoodclashesandadultanti-socialbehaviour)orhiddenor
unreported (eg low level racism or harassment), including the hidden structural
inequalitiesthatliebehindmuchcommunityconict.
Chapter 1 Background to the organisation
CommunityResolve’sstreet-basedteam,2009-2011
Contents
Organisational structure
and function 2
12 Chapter 2 Organisational structure and function
2.1 How Community Resolve grew
ThestoryofhowCommunityResolvesteadilyexpanded,attractingmore
funding, more commissions, repeat commissions and above all, more people,
isillustratedbythetableofaselectionofdeliverybetween2003and2013
(Appendix1,p33)
Overthe10years,whatstartedasafewpart-timevolunteersgrewintoateam
of28ormoreindividualsaswellasadiversevolunteerTrusteegroup.Paidand
volunteerworkerswereassembledintoaskilledandlocally-rootedworkforce
from a range of community backgrounds. The community knowledge, ideas and
experiencetheybroughtintotheorganisationshapedwhatandhowitdeveloped
nextaseachworkerwasencouragedtobuildontheirlifeexperiencestodevelop
projectsoftheirown.
Astimepassed,theorganisationbecameincreasinglyinterestedinhowto
embed learning and processes in such a way that they become part of the
fabric of the local environment, establishing lines of contact in all directions,
across closed communities and up and down power hierarchies. In particular,
Community Resolve was interested in embedding structures to allow for
theexibleandpositivemanagementofcommunitytensionsastheyarose
rather than allowing misunderstandings and miscommunications to fester and
potentially descend into violence.
Over the decade of work covered in this report, Community Resolve:
• Built a highly diverse organisation whose workers became dynamic and
signicantrolemodelsandadvocatesfordifferentcommunitiesacross
the city.
• Introduced a new way of working across Bristol, slowly bringing on board
statutory and voluntary agencies to accept the importance of acknowledging
conictandtheimportanceoftrainingallpeopletoapproachitinapositive
and skilled manner.
• Raisedtheproleofhowconictinschools,onstreetsandwithin
communities is a massive drain on the city’s resources; previously, underlying
causes of incidents were ignored or swept under the carpet, so undermining
hugeinvestmentsinhousingandeducation,forexample,inBristol’s
disadvantaged areas.
2.1
How Community
Resolve grew
2.2
Organisational response
to a changing world
Table 1
Community mediation principles
as organisational values
Box
Case study: Working with
a tower block in disarray
Appendix 1
Selection of
delivery 2003-2013
Appendix 2
Drawing on international
theory and practice
Contents
13
• Reachedover10,000youngpeopleandatleast3000adultsacrossthe
citythroughtrainingandsupport–includingaseriesoffree1-dayadult
trainingsandreachingallYear8sinthecity’sschools.Allyouthtrainingwas
delivered by peer educators from diverse communities, alongside more
experiencedtrainers.
• Supportedprofessionalsandworkersofalltypesacrossthecitytobetter
understandandmanagetheireverydayconicts,throughtrainingin
managingconictonthefrontline,teamdevelopmentandfacilitationand
conictcoaching.
• Championed community research and the importance of investigating
situations before acting, often commissioned by local statutory bodies to work
in partnership with local universities.
• Developedsite-specicinnovativemodelsofworking,frommixed-age
street-basedoutreachteamstothe‘CrucialConversations’intergenerational
mediationprojectbetweenteensandparents.
• Demonstrated the potential of a diverse team working to model positive
relationships across different backgrounds which spanned age, gender,
background,faithdifferences-withouthavingtosayit.
This last point seems to be at the heart of why so many people from so many
backgroundsandexperiencesboughtintotheconceptofCommunityResolve
asanorganisation,aswellasembracingitsapproachtomanagingconictsand
community relationships.The organisation’s continually evolving internal structure
Chapter 2 Organisational structure and function
A tower block in disarray
We were approached by the council and local community workers after violent verbal
andphysicalclashesbetweenwhiteandnewlyarrivedSomaliresidents.Thetower
blockhadseenatransformationofitspopulationinjustacoupleofyears,withnearly
50%ofplacesallocatedtoSomalifamiliesinablockthatwashistorically‘white’.
Oversixmonths,CommunityResolveledamulti-agencyinitiativetoanalysethe
situation.Asarststep,wetrainedlocalresidentswithbothWhiteBritishandSomali
backgroundstoworkinpairs,goingdoor-to-doortotalkthroughaquestionnairewith
residentsofbothcommunitiesaboutthedifcultiestheyfaced.
It became clear that a lack of language, housing support and opportunities for original
andnewresidentstomeetwerefuellingthedifculties,aswasastarkdifferencein
attitudes to dogs. The questionnaire results were fed back to residents (as a letter
throughtheirdoor,inEnglishandSomali)andtolocalagencies,attwomulti-agency
meetingsandledtoanumberofpositivedevelopments.Theseincludedawelcome/
induction pack for new residents in English and other languages, and a diverse, fully
representativeongoingresidentsgroupwhichmonitoreddifcultiesintheblock.Clashes
between residents fell, and when an incident did reoccur 8 months later, it was quickly
managed by the representatives of the residents group who stopped the rumour mill
before the incident escalated. Community Resolve also trained volunteer residents in
mediationskillstoenablethemtomanagesubsequentconictsintheblock.
Contents
14
hadatitsheartacommunitymediationprocess,aswellasinternationalconict
theory and practice (seeAppendix2:Drawingfrominternationaltheoryand
practice,p37).Asaresult,itsfoundationswerebuiltonawayofworkingthat
encouraged responsibility and empowerment within the organisation, and also
explainedwhyCommunityResolvewereabletoholdaneutralspacebetween
groups and statutory bodies in their delivery work.
Alooseandopenorganisationstructureencouragedeveryonetotakea
managementaswellasadeliveryrole,eventhoughsomeweredenitelymore
athomewithpapertrailsthanothers.Strategically,theorganisationmoved
continually between the ‘big picture’ (an awareness of the wider funding,
politicalandsocialcontextsforthework)andthe‘littlepicture’(understandingthe
importance of supporting relationships and resilience between individuals
andgroups).Aboveall,theorganisationprovidedthecitywithateamofhuge
resourcefulness, who were able to adapt and successfully operate in the most
challengingofenvironmentsusingtheirownexperiencescombinedwithan
internaltoolboxofconictmanagementandfacilitationskills.
Community mediation principles Organisational values and practices
Abeliefthatsolutionsrestwiththepeopleinthe
situation,andthattheybringanexperienceand
knowledge which must form a central part of the answer
Recruiting local people with deep community
connections
Allideasarehonouredequally,regardless
of status or hierarchy
Learning from each other by pooling ideas and
resources
Allculturalandpersonalperspectivesarewelcomed Respectful working inside and outside the organisation
Askrst,don’tsuggestoroffersolutions Work underpinned by local action research
Addressingneedsidentiedbythoseinthesituation Flexibility,continuallyrespondingtothechanging
environmentandcontext
Taking responsibility for the process and the solutions Acommitmenttoselfdevelopment,reectionandpeer
feedback
Maintainingcondentiality Nottalkingaboutthosewhoarenotpresent;sharing
information appropriately in public forums
Everyone speaks in turn, listening, without interrupting Format of team meetings, planning meetings,
community facilitations
Everyone has a little bit of the truth: solutions are found
by building on each others’ ideas
Internalprojectplanninganddevelopmentofnewideas;
externalapproachtoclashesandconicts
Table 1: Community mediation principles as organisational values
Chapter 2 Organisational structure and function
Contents
15
2.2 Organisational response to a changing world
Community Resolve started off at a time when innovative ways of working were
embraced by the city, which was looking for new models to manage relationship
andstructuralweaknessesasthecity’smake-upchanged.However,overthe
years, and most especially as the impact of the Coalition government’s approach
to‘austerity’hitpost2010,manyoftherelationshipsbuiltupoverthedecade
were disintegrating. Partner agencies had closed or had their funding withdrawn,
and key allies across the range of statutory bodies – from schools to the council
andthepolice-eitherlosttheirjobsorhadtheirbudgetsslashed.Repeated
roundsof‘restructuring’andredundancyover5yearsormoreledtoaprofoundly
depressedandinternal-lookingstatutoryandinstitutionalleadershipinthecity.
WhenitbecameclearthattheLocalAuthorityhadmovedfromsupportinglocal
organisationstocommissioninglarge(andusuallyout-of-city)agenciestodeliver
community-facingwork,CommunityResolvewasleftwithdifcultchoices,
includingthepossibilityofmergingwithotherorganisations.Asateam,they
decidedagainstamerger,andsopreparedforclosureoverasixmonthperiod
fromtheendof2012onwards.Mostworkersfoundalternativejobswithin
communityorganisationsofonesortoranother,andinsodoingfullledoneof
thefounders’originalambitions:toembedtheskillsofconictandrelationship
management within local communities.
Chapter 2 Organisational structure and function
year Young people/adults
aged 5-25
Community action
& adult training
Action research/
dissemination
2003 • Workwithyoungpeople/youth
workers/familiesoverEaston/St
Pauls stabbing
• Contract to: ‘create positive
social and personal development
opportunities,fosteringself-
condence
and cohesion amongst
young people.’
• Coordination of strategy to
tackle longterm youth clashes in
central Bristol
• FormationofBristolGang
AwarenessProject(partofCR)
steering group round issues of gangs
and violence
• Contract to ‘overcome
conictwithinthe
community and improve
local people’s safety by
identifyingthedeep-rooted
causesofuznrest
withinBS5’
• Startofactionresearch
into‘hiddenconict’in
Easton and surrounding
areas
2004 • Youth-ledConference“AreGangs
Family?”foraround150young
people in central Bristol.
• Trainingforyouthworkers/
community members to
work with young aspiring
‘gang’ members
• Development of Peer Educator
Teamaged13-25torunworkshops
around gangs and weapons, youth
territorialism
• Conictresolutionand
peer mediation training, secondary
schools
• Sortit!SchoolsPeer
mediationproject
• YouthtrainingwithLEAPConfronting
ConictbetweenSomaliandother
young people in Barton Hill
• Mentoringplan-Getting
Realprogramme–1-1one-
for work with YOT, those on
remand, etc
• FundsfromAllenLane
todevelop1stlanguage
mediatorprojectfocussing
on developing a common
languagearoundconict
across communities
• Conictmappingcentral
Bristol supported by
GovernmentOfceSouth
West(GOSW)
For more information on the breadth of work delivered 2003-2013, see page 33 onwards
Contents
The impact
research 3
16 Chapter 3 The impact research
3.1 Aims and timing for the research
The data in this research was gathered at the point of closure of Community
Resolve’sBristolofce,betweenMayandJuly2013.Theresearchaimedto
answer the following questions:
• What could be learnt from the insights of those who engaged with the
organisationovera10-yearperiod,includingserviceusers,funders,
commissioners, workers, volunteers and supporters?
• Howwassomuchachievedbysuchasmallorganizationover10years
of delivery?
• Whatcanbelearntfromtheorganisation’sexperienceintermsofembedding
skills across a city and working with such a diverse delivery team?
The quotes from those interviewed, and the themes below, have been pulled
together by the research team independently of any Community Resolve workers.
3.2 Who took part?
Overthreemonths,theresearchteamtalkedto41peopleindepthabout
theirexperienceandviewsoftheorganisation(seechart,p17). It is worth noting
that many of those interviewed had at least two different types of relationship
withCommunityResolve–forexampleasserviceuserandcommissioner,oras
a volunteer and then paid worker.
Thisreectsthecharacteristicallycomplexandongoingnatureofinvolvement
with the organisation over its years of work in Bristol. For more detail on
participants and their relationship to Community Resolve, seeAppendix3, p39.
ThesummariesonthenextpagecapturetheoverarchingattitudestoCommunity
Resolve and its closure from those the research team talked to:
3.1
Aims and timing
for the research
3.2
Who took part?
3.3
What did the research
look at and how?
3.4
Key research ndings
- Building a diverse &
resilient organisation
- Empowerment and leadership
- Credibility and independence
- Evaluating impact
Chart
Participant relationship
to Community Resolve
Appendix 3
Research and
participant information
Appendix 4
A place of safety &
inspiration – interviews
with service users
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17
Service users all felt empowered by their connection with the organisation which
had provided them with a range of new opportunities. Those who had moved
through Community Resolve into work were particularly committed, interested in
theworkandtheorganisationitself.Manyexpressedasenseofbelongingandof
being truly ‘heard and seen’.
Part-time and sessional workers were enthusiastic about Community Resolve
and were disappointed that the work would end. They understood the need for
such work and appreciated the degree of connection that the workers and the
organisation had across a range of communities.
Longterm workers who formed the central core team within Community Resolve
felt they had gained greatly from being a part of the organisation, despite being
tiredandreadytomoveontonewopportunities.Astheyhadbeenpartof
thedecision-makingprocesstoclose,theywereawareofthechallengesthe
organisationfacedbutalsocondentitspositiveimpactwouldbefeltinthecity
for quite some time.
Commissioners and partner agencies highlighted the credibility of the
organisation and the advocacy role it played for various central Bristol
communities. They drew attention to the negative impacts of closure, losing
both Community Resolve’s work and its unique networks, and suggested that
the loss of the organisation will only become clear years down the line. Those
few commissioners who had been most challenged by Community Resolve’s
independent stance had a different understanding of why the closure had
occurred, feeling that the organisation had not ‘played the game’. Others, more
resignedtotheeffectsofthenancialcrashandpoliticaldirection,feltthatthe
organisation’sinnovativeandexplorativeapproacheswerenotviableinthecurrent
nancial/ideologicalclimate,nomatterhowneeded.
Funders and supporters highlighted the connection with grassroots communities
that Community Resolve had built up, as well as the abilities of the Director
to articulate the values behind Community Resolve’s work. Others pointed to
Community Resolve’s reputation and high levels of social capital and credibility.
Participant relationship to Community Resolve Funders: trusts
and foundations
Volunteers with Community Resolve,
including Trustees
Commissioners: Council, police,
schools, private & voluntary sectors
Clients, training participants & other service users
Professional colleagues in other agencies: Council, Police, Schools, Voluntary Sector
Community Resolve workers
14
14
14
2
6
8
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3.3 What did the research look at and how?
Althoughthisisasmallevaluationreport,meetingswiththeresearchteamled
to broad agreement on the qualitative approach to be taken before researchers
worked independently. The research team then contacted participants based on
a list of contacts in three broad categories, and collated a list of key themes to
emerge from the interviews (see3.4). Interviews were generally with one person,
face to face or via skype, although they also included a couple of focus groups
with service users, and covered the questions listed below:
• HowdidyourstcomeintocontactwithCommunityResolve?
What was the nature of your involvement?
• Hasthatencounterchangedyou?Isthechangeshort/longterm?
• What’s been the impact on your work? Other parts of your life? Other people
or situations you know?
• Can you tell me something about leadership in Community Resolve and how
itworks?(forworkers):Doyouhaveanexampleofhowyouhavetakena
leadership role?
• What were the organisation’s strengths and weaknesses? What do you think
theydidwell/lesswell?
• When you think about the organisation, what do you feel? What images come
to mind?
• Is there anything else you’d like to add?
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3.4
What emerged in this study were feelings of loss and sadness, frustration and disappointment
at the closure of Community Resolve in Bristol. But what also emerged, in greater strength
andfrequency,wereaccountsoflife-changingexperiences,profoundjobsatisfaction,joy
in relationships formed, a sense of belonging, and pride in serving and contributing to the
bettermentofpeople’slivesinlocalcommunitiesandneighbourhoods.Everyonespokento-
workers,serviceusersandpeopleinotherorganisations-waschangedinsomeprofoundways
by their contact with the organisation. Many spoke of new skills acquired that they are putting
touse,ornewwaysoflookingatissuesofconictanddifferences.Belowareanumberofkey
themes that emerged from across the interviews, illustrating many of the points made earlier.
[They] lled a role: saw a particular issue that was very serious and tried to deal with it and had
considerable success in doing so, but [they] have been a casualty of a real sea change in the
funding landscape... both in the city and the country.’ Externalpartnerorganisation
A. Building a diverse & resilient organisation
– Respect for the team
Community Resolve’s workers were described with great respect by all those interviewed, from
service users to funders and commissioners, as well as by each other. Workers talked of feeling
‘privileged to have worked in such a diverse group’, while those who they worked with spoke
of how ‘like if I’m not here for a week, they notice... you know you’re really part of a community
when they say ‘what happened?’ and another, how ‘every time I come here they show me love
... I’ve got nothing but love for them.’
While some team members had fantastic local community connections, others had the skills
toholdtogetheracomplexandrapidlygrowingorganisation.Ineffect,thespecicskillsand
qualities of each worker built on those of the others, complementing and amplifying the overall
impact and reach of the organisation.
‘They have the skills to go on the streets, to meet younger people from different
cultural backgrounds and talk to them and were able to engage them better than any
other organisation.’ Serviceuser
‘They are one of the organisations that has the most intelligences and experience really’
Public sector commissioner
– Recruitment and management
ItisimportanttonotethatpeopleinCommunityResolvewerejustordinarypeoplefroma
range of different backgrounds who went on to build an unusual and dynamic organisation.
When workers were asked how they became involved with Community Resolve, many named
a meeting where they had met a worker from the organisation, or someone had introduced
them, or they had help from Community Resolve. Many had been directly approached by the
DirectorandalreadyhadextensiveconnectionsandleadershiproleswithinoneparticularBristol
community. Their wholehearted commitment to the work was because ‘they knew thiswas
needed’. Worker
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Recruitmentwasnotbasedonqualicationsbutworkerswerealwayslookingoutforpeople
with an open heart, a commitment to learning and a desire to contribute. One Trustee described
the recruitment model as ‘Here you are, what are your skills? Ok, can you go and do it?’
‘I learnt a lot from working with Community Resolve, I really appreciate it, and the opportunities I
got along the way, I know my input was valued and valuable to the organisation’ Worker
This kind of ‘purposeful recruitment’ brought added demands for staff development and
intensive management. One worker talked of how:
‘Sometimes it might be difcult internally, so like it might be difcult to make dates… and for
them to turn up... because they’re not bound by their diary in the way that I am. You know,
it’s different ways of working. There’s something about the aim of the project is to continue to
support the [workers] in their journey of being responsible, meeting expectations, so that was
difcult and frustrating.’
While another longterm worker described the need for ‘so many different management styles’,
especially given so much new and innovative work:
‘So many people with such good skills, doing so many different things, that it was quite difcult
to manage… Partly that was the nature of the work they do and partly the nature of the people
involved - that includes myself… People with different abilities, just in terms of ling, computer
literacy, the way people reported back… We had systems in place, [but] not everyone used them
and sometimes not everyone understood them… People in admin really felt pressured and felt
put upon... [whilst]...people on the ground just said ‘why don’t you let me get on with my work?’.
It’s weird because it functioned very well for a very long time. As a beast it functioned really well.’
– Building the team
One reason it did function so well was because of the commitment throughout the organisation
to group development. This was seen by many as an important factor in promoting successful
internal cohesion, with workers speaking of the great feeling of trust between everyone.
Fortnightly team meetings run according to mediation principles – different people chairing,
talkinginturn,respectforallviewsexpressed–reinforcedtheorganisation’shighlypositive
internal dynamics. With so much to do, these meetings could easily have been lost, but became
an essential part of keeping such a very disparate group of people, with completely differently
values and interests away from work, in touch with each other.
‘In meetings we debated, we had differences and we came to compromises, this was important
for working together, we all respected each other’s opinions even if we didn’t agree’ Worker
‘The meetings were important, cause so many projects and people doing different things… it
was hard to keep up… but we could exchange and learn from each other in meetings...’ Worker
‘We learnt a lot from each other and understanding different ways of working, we would
often get support and help from each other on issues we had in our own projects, this was
really useful’ Worker
‘We argued, debated and came to a consensus because we all had the same aim and vision’
Worker
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– Continuous training
Ongoing training for all was an intrinsic part of building the organisation, and when funding
permitted, all workers had an annual training budget they could call on to pay for or subsidise
relevanttrainingtheywantedtotake.Traininginhowtofacilitatedifcultconversations
encouraged everyone to develop their own vision of how to work with and between Bristol
communities. On two occasions, all workers and trustees did one complete week of training
together,facilitatedbyexperiencedrelationaltrainersfromLeapConfrontingConict. This
powerfulexperiencewashighlightedbyworkersassignicantinboththeirworkandhomelives:
‘The training allowed us to really take a look at ourselves, and gure out what made us tick,
because that really affected how we were able to help others’ Worker
‘The trainings, red ags, really changed my life, it had a massive impact on how I looked at the
world and my role as a father, and my role in the community’ Worker
‘I really grew from doing the training, and learnt about how to keep my cool just by being aware
of my own red ags’ Worker
‘Community Resolve has enabled me to grow, I’ve done a lot of work on myself which has
helped me to do this kind of work... it’s not been easy, to become more self-aware is a road...
and it’s not easy...’ Worker
Theethosoflifelonglearninglteredthroughtovolunteersandserviceusers.Somepeople
spoke of passing on skills and knowledge, with one describing the organisation as creating a
‘cascade of mediation-savvy community activists’. Anotherspokeofthetrainingindiversityand
conictmanagementhehadreceivedwhichledtohisrecognitioninthewidercommunity,noting
that the ‘philosophy’ of the Community Resolve workers was ‘not about killing energy [but] about
moving it and channelling it into something positive.’
‘I remember once being told, if there’s anything that you see me do that you like the look of, let
me know and I will send you on training.’ Worker, talking about the Director
‘Every time there’s an opportunity, she’s like ‘this is right up your street’ … she pushes me for it.’
Serviceuser,talkingaboutworker
B. Empowerment and leadership
It was clear from people’s accounts that Community Resolve ‘walked the talk’ of empowerment,
identifying, valuing and bringing into the organisation a range of people with different skills
andattributesbutalso,crucially,encouragingpeopletobroadentheirhorizons.Theworkers,
service users, funders and commissioners all acknowledged the ethos of empowerment within
Community Resolve and commented in various ways of its role in the organisation’s management
and leadership style. Funders talked of Community Resolve as ‘a learning organisation... [with]
innovative solution design [that] was ahead of the game’, with one using these solutions as
templateforotherfundingapplicationstheyprocessed.Anothersawtheorganisation’sabilityto
‘turn poachers into gamekeepers’ as a key part of connecting and changing lives.
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In producing this report, it has become clear that the success of the organisation lay in its
interplaybetweenleadership,uniqueorganisationalstructure,anddeliveryandmulti-agency
working. The organisation itself took a key leadership role in the city, naming what many people
wantedtoavoid(theexistenceofconictandtensions);fullyembracingthecomplexityof
community dynamics by absorbing a range of community perspectives and moulding them into
asingleentity;andbyacknowledgingandhonouringthewisdomandexperienceincommunities
whilechallenginglong-hiddenstructuralandpowerinequalitiesinthecity.
– Individual leadership
The intention from the very beginning had been to develop leadership skills within Community
Resolve, in part to try and avoid creating a traditional organisational hierarchy. From the reports
ofmanyoftheworkers,thisstrategyworkedextremelywell.Alloftheworkersfelttheywere
leadersintheirownarenas,andtheyappreciatedtheexibilityandtrusttheyweregiventodo
their work. They talked of how there was ‘no hierarchy, everyone worked together’, and gave
manyexamplesofprojectstheydevelopedandled.
‘From the idea to the delivery, I was mentored to work through how to lead a project’
Worker & service user
‘I was always able to identify the problems in the community, but I didn’t know as much how to
nd solutions… Community Resolve and the training taught me methods to work out solutions…
and present them... And write projects around them…’ Worker
‘There always seem to be that commitment to some extent to devolving power... try to spread
responsibility and giving young people particularly the opportunity to step up and take things’
Funder
‘Each worker had a link to their own community, they managed themselves and they were
credible, this could be seen by going into the ofce and having a meeting or a chat with any
of them.’ Supporter/advocate
Astheorganisationgrew,sotoodidthedemandsfromoutsideCommunityResolveforan
identiablegureheadwhospokethesamelanguageaspolicy-makersandcommissioners
andwhocouldholdtheirowninofcialmeetingsandforums.Thisledtothereluctantinternal
creationofa‘Director’,whotookanincreasinglyoutward-facingrole:
‘[The Director] was a really good ambassador for the work they did… she really understood
multi-agency work’ Commissioner
‘[The Director’s leadership] was very dynamic, very inspirational, extremely intelligent and quick,
but also with a really keen ideal of trying to enable others’ Funder
‘She’s very good at directing and looking at the best possible way to move forward and she’s a
risk taker’ Local authority colleague
‘[The director] was like a breath of fresh air...[with a] unique combination of a grasp of theory
relating to community and conict and also a sense of action and application. And it’s very rare
that I see those qualities in one person’Multi-agencycolleague
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ThisfocusontheDirector’sabilitieswasamixedblessingfortheorganisation.Whileit
washelpfulforgettingbuy-intotheorganisation’sorganicapproachtocommunitywork,it
reectedtheaccessbarriersforothersintheorganisation,andespeciallythosefromminority
backgrounds.Someaccountscollectedsuggestthatestablishedpartnershiporganisationsand
statutory bodies were perhaps more wedded to the idea of the Director’s leadership than those
inCommunityResolve.Theyhadavestedinterestinconcentratingmuchofthedecision-making
and managerial power in her, someone more recognisably like themselves. One longtime worker
in the organisation, when asked about leadership, observed that if you belonged to an ethnic
minorityandhadhadexperienceofracism,the‘furtherupyougo’themoreyouexperienceit.
Hisdescriptionofisolationinstrategicmeetings,despiteprovidingamuch-neededchannelof
communicationbetweenthestatutoryagenciesandthegrassroots,issignicant:
‘I hated going to these meetings, wasting my time, to give them information… I knew they
needed the information… but it was like an insider’s club, with everything, the way they
communicated with each other. ... It just wasn’t me and I knew – not that I wanted to - but I
knew I didn’t t in’ Worker
Anothercommentedonhisresponsibilityasatrailblazerforpoorlyrepresentedcommunitiesin
the city: ‘Leadership is about being in that position – working and progressing, the more I go on,
the more the community goes on.’ Worker
– Citywide leadership around community action
Public service commissioners of Community Resolve’s work with young people and community
groups were enthusiastic in their praise of the organisation’s training and practical work on the
ground and the connections and ‘inspired links’ they made between agencies and groups. The
organisation’s approach to community action was also highly valued:
‘Looking at how community people can be involved in their own solutions and build local
capacity… is a very important value that I picked up... it wasn’t a hierarchy, it was partnership…
A lot of people talk the talk but they don’t walk the walk’ Local authority colleague
‘[Community Resolve] showed us lots of ways into helping organisations and helping each other.
That has changed us, putting on that rst event was the making of [our] Community Trust I
think... We saw the impact of that, the community saw the impact of that’
Serviceuser&partneragency
‘It had an impact on the skills of our staff members... they gained mediation skills that we still use
as an organisation... I believe there were personal benets and also organisational benets from
the [Community Resolve] training.’ Partner agency
Its widespread community credibility and connections led to a level of knowledge and
understanding of frontline dynamics that other organisations and statutory bodies wanted and
needed.This,combinedwithaexibleapproachof‘planningtohavenoplan’,enabledthe
organisation to respond in real time to community situations as they unfolded:
‘With CR, there was a safety net there ... sometimes you were doing work and thinking, I’ve got
that organisation and that organisation ... but sometimes you needed a more creative approach
that was outside of the Council. I was really aware of that when I was doing some work around
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a stabbing of a young guy … Community Resolve were coming in with a different approach of
holding things together … in a practical way. I’m really sad that safety net’s gone in a way …
and I’m aware that there’s no-one there to do that bit of work.’ Local authority colleague
‘Responding to crises and doing that by coming up with a plan, a really clear strategic plan’
Commissioner
‘It’s quite simple-seeming work, but it’s actually quite skilful… We didn’t have the specic
expertise that Community Resolve did. But we learnt a lot from working with them. Our practice
shifted after that’ Local authority colleague
‘Insider information that they were able to manage... this will be a miss... there will be a gap in
this knowledge for us now, and we won’t know the impact until a few years time’
Public sector colleague
‘It’s gone, a massive vacuum has been created and where there’s a vacuum it usually gets lled
by something not very good.’ Public sector colleague
C. Credibility & independence
Open and honest debate was valued in the organisation, which organised itself internally by
drawing on the principles of community mediation – those of respectful listening and challenge;
ofvaluingallviewpoints;ofcondentiality;andofactivelypromotingselfreectionandself
knowledge.ThosefamiliarwithCommunityResolve’sapproachtoconictsawchallengeas
apositivething,awaytostretchpeople’sideasandhorizons,tondnewapproachestoold
struggles. By promoting a positive attitude and shared tools and language towards everyday
conicts,theorganisationhadconsiderableimpactonskillinguppeopleacrossthecityto
manage their daily tensions and relationships.
Nonetheless,CommunityResolvegainedareputationinsomequartersofbeing‘theawkward
squad’ for challenging not only individuals and groups at grassroots levels (which seemed to
beacceptableandexpected)butalsothoseworkinginthecity’sinstitutions.Thiswasless
acceptableanddenitelylessexpected,inpartbecausestatutorybodiesunderstoodtoolittle
aboutCommunityResolve’sunderpinningtheoryandpractice(seeAppendix2:Drawingon
international theory and practice) to understand why the organisation saw this as their remit.
‘CR started out with a real plan to tackle the community conict, a really strong, like bringing
people in, and really strongly facilitating the conict. Their funder … didn’t really like that idea and
pushed against the work they could have done, and made it a much milder set of sessions. It
could have been a lot more powerful I think.’ Local authority colleague
‘Antagonistic relationships between members of the Council and members of Community
Resolve were ironic since the organisation is about conict resolution’
Public sector commissioner
‘We wouldn’t bother wasting energy, we would just roll our eyes and walk away’
Partner organisation
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‘You know the phrase ‘walk the talk’, well [the Director] would do that. She would be the role
model, wouldn’t shy away from difcult conversations.’ Multi-agencycolleague
This willingness to challenge the malfunctioning status quo (by addressing and talking about
power and structural inequalities in the city) and the organisation’s highly diverse and embedded
workforcewerecentraltoCommunityResolve’scredibility.Themajorityofworkersand
volunteers were born and educated within the communities they were working alongside.
‘That’s what really worked, the workers were really embedded in their communities and they had
their own relationships, you probably know the phrase ‘credible messengers’ but that’s what got
created there.’ Serviceuser
Thisembedded-nessandcommitmentpresentedconsiderablechallengesfortheworkers,as
separating ‘work’ and ‘life’ was not easy. Those in the organisation working with marginalised
communitiesbecameinvolvedattimeswiththeaftermathofviolent,sometimesfatal,conicts.
Itcouldbeextremelyemotionallydemanding,aswellasunsafe:
‘There were times when I just got really overwhelmed’ Worker
‘We were at times putting us at risk – this is something we had to consider… people didn’t
understand this’ Worker
The importance given to an independent stance for the organisation was often misunderstood.
AlthoughCommunityResolvewasnotamediationservice,itwasrootedinmediation
approaches and practices, which involved positioning the organisation and its workers as being
on everyone’s side and none. Independence wasn’t a choice – it was an essential component
of the organisation’s ethos and impact, and was crucial for workers’ safety. This wasn’t always
understood:
‘The days when you could have a good idea... and then get some funding to do that and
therefore establish yourself as an independent organisation, I think that’s increasingly gone. The
small organisations are going by the board. It’s a pity because they are the ones that are best
at engaging with individuals but what needs to happen is that the people who are really good at
doing that need to go into work with other organisations which are of a sufcient size that they
are more resilient.’ Partner agency
Thisquotealsohighlightsacommonplacecorrelationbetweensize,resilienceandengagement
that Community Resolve would question. One person interviewed suggested that a key
difference between Community Resolve and other organisations in the city lay in its approach of
‘looking at what was happening and then looking for the money’, as opposed to the standard
model of ‘looking at what funding was available and then deciding the work accordingly’. The
organisation’s commitment to this emergent approach both impressed and frustrated partner
agencies and statutory bodies:
‘It was really important that it was lifted by its values... you couldn’t put it in a box. It had its own
form. That was its strength and its weakness.’ Public sector commissioner
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D. Evaluating impact
ManyoftheorganisationsspokentoviewedtheclosureofCommunityResolveasasignicant
loss to the city and to their own abilities to deliver services and manage tensions within and
betweencommunities.Thelossissituatedinthecontextofwidespreadanddeepcutsto
publicservicesacrossthecountry.Publicsectorworkersshareddeep-seatedworriesaboutthe
future of community cohesion across the city, as well as the effects of youth unemployment and
growinglevelsofconictarisingfromincreasedcompetitionforresourcesandservices.
However, there are contradictions in the accounts around how the organisation’s impact was
monitoredandevaluated.Highlyrespectedlarge-scalenationalfunderstalkedofCommunity
Resolve as ‘perfect partners’,whileaBristolLocalAuthoritycommissionerspokeofhowitwas
‘frustrating… not getting proper evaluations’. This discrepancy may relate to the increasing
pressure on public sector funders to demonstrate hard numbers and tangible positive outcomes
inreturnforfunding.AlthoughCommunityResolvecouldanddidprovide‘numbers’ofpeople
trained, events held and other countable measures, much of their work was about changing
people’sattitudes,perspectivesandmicro-levelbehaviours–andsolesseasilydocumented.
This led to a situation where the organisation and its impact was perceived and understood
differentlybydifferentpeople-anotherstrengthandweakness.Onecitycommissioner
described how:
‘When I think of Community Resolve I see [the Director], [the Director], [the Director].
Perhaps that was part of the issue, she was Community Resolve’
while those closer to the organisation, who had never met the Director, talked of Community
Resolve very differently:
‘If you came here you would see the progress, if you knew these boys on a personal level, if you
was in St Pauls every day and you seen what these boys was like you’d be like ‘Wow these boys
come here, they do this?’ Serviceuserandmentor
‘It impacts their lives outside of this place and that’s just one or two people, so when you’ve got
25, 50 people coming here you can just imagine how inuential this place is.’
Serviceuserandcommissioner
AnotherseniormanagerwiththeCityCouncilnotedthatwhiletheresearchandconictwork
done by Community Resolve was successful in addressing underlying issues, these issues have
not gone away. His observation highlights the systemic nature of community relationships and
structures, and the importance of embedding local skills and structures to work with what will
always be a dynamic and ongoing process.
– What was achieved
In2004theorganisationsettledonthisstatementofintent:
‘New ways of seeing and being: our vision is to transform the negative energy of
conict situations into opportunities for growth, understanding and communication’.
There is no doubt that over the decade Community Resolve did effect profound personal
changesinindividuals,groupsandcommunities,openingupnewhorizonsforlargenumbers
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of both young and old, and providing tools to achieve personal and social change through
other ways of seeing, living and being. The research provided substantial evidence that this
2004visionwasrealisedinmorewaysthanmighthavebeenexpected,asitbecameclear
that Community Resolve had created ripples of social change rooted in individual awareness
that were, and continue to be, felt across the city and beyond. In addition, Community Resolve
alsohadconsiderableimpactoncitywidestatutoryandvoluntaryorganisations(ofallsizesand
stature),shiftingtheirpracticesandunderstandingsandupskillingtheirstaffjustasmuchas
‘community’ individuals and groups.
The impact of the organisation is perhaps best summed up by the different metaphors or images
offered by participants in the research:
As ‘opening a gate for the young people, giving access to places young people might
not necessarily see… the young people might be thinking ‘What’s behind the gate?’,
and Community Resolve would be opening it for them’
As a fountain, showering skills and knowledge across the city through the creation of a
cascade of mediation-savvy community activists
As ‘freedom ghters with no business model’
As ripples caused by ‘a great big boulder going into a pond’ said one, and ‘the proverbial ripple
effect – not a cookbook approach’ offered another.
Andaboveallas a bridge -over10years,theorganisationbuiltextensivenetworksinevery
directionwhichservedasamulti-directionalbridgebetweendifferentculturesandclasses
in the broadest sense, acknowledging difference while providing a route for communication,
travelandexchange.
Chapter 3 The impact research
‘It was about who you are and who you can be’ Trustee
Contents
To follow
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28 Chapter 4 To follow up...
4.1
Organisational learning
4.2
Funding innovative work
in challenging times
4.3
Community engagement –
what’s the task?
4.4
Scale and replication –
what’s to learn?
4.5
Community Resolve
going forward
Box
Theory and practice
framework
The accounts collected by the research team clearly show how
Community Resolve’s role in the city mix was complex and multi-layered.
A strong sense of values emerged, as well as numerous accounts of the
organisation’s long-term inuence and impact along a continuum from
individuals to statutory development and delivery. Many participants
had experienced the ‘warmth’ of the organisation, demonstrating deep
connections and a palpable trust and belief in its credibility.
Althoughthequestionsaskeddidnotnecessarilyidentifythefullcomplexityof
Community Resolve, they did unearth a number of insights into its workings and
widerimpacts.Asastudyintomanagingcommunitycomplexityandembedding
a skilled workforce to help with that, this report also highlights a number of leads
to investigate further.
• recruitment
- prioritisinglocalemployment
- designinganinclusive
and accessible process
- recruitingforqualities,
notqualications
• management
- consistentlinemanagement
and group supervision
- accompaniment,encouragement
and no blame
- in-houseteamsofthosewith
community knowledge and those with
ofceskills
• internal decision making
- groupandconsensusprocesses
- devolvedresponsibility
wherever possible
- opennessandtransparency
• delivery design and carry through
- askrst–don’tactwithoutan
understandingofcontextanddynamics
- diversedeliveryteams(egacrossage,
gender, background)
- onestepatatime–design,act,review
• timescales
- therearenoquickxes
- longtermcommitmenttobuildingtrust
and relationships
- 10yearsplustocreateaskilled,
embedded workforce
• partnership working
- practitioner,policymakerandacademic
collaborations
- buildingmulti-directionalnetworks
across the city
- linkingpowerhierarchiesandcreating
a channel for voice
Community Resolve’s theory and practice framework
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29
4.1 Organisational learning
• The report acknowledges the importance of the ethos of empowerment and
leadership threaded through the entire organisation, as well as having a leader
gurewhocanholdandarticulatewithastrongandclearvision.Itconrmedthat
devolved leadership can be spread across a diverse worker team to great effect
wheremixedskilledteamsworktogether.
• Those inside Community Resolve recognised the value of the close respectful
bonds within the worker team, and knew that if the organisation grew too big,
and these were diluted too far, the ‘powerhouse’ function of the organisation
would be weakened.
• Theprinciplesofcommunitymediationweresuccessfullyexpandedtoform
the bedrock for such a diverse workforce and its delivery, used both to
structureinternalorganisationandcommunication,andtofacilitateexternal/
community meetings.
• The acknowledged ‘walk the talk’ of the organisation started with the individual
commitmentofallworkerstoaprogrammeofongoingself-knowledgeand
reection,trueasmuchforthosewhohadbeenatCommunityResolvethe
longest as for the newest arrival. This organisational commitment to learning
and openness modelled an attitude to life and others which was transmitted to
those we worked with.
• Beingresponsivetocommunityneedrequiresaninternalstructurethatisexible
and adaptive. Community Resolve’s conceptual framework, which evolved
over time, allowed a highly diverse group of people – in age, background,
gender, class, faith, education levels and interests – to form a cohesive, resilient
community workforce.
• Seedsowingisaveryeffectivewayofmakinglarge-scaleimpactbutrunsthe
risk of an organisation becoming unmanageable and unwieldy if all the sprouts
emergeatthesametime.Ingeneral,peoplewereawareofjustoneortwo
aspects of Community Resolve’s work at any one time, rather than the full
spectrum of the organisation’s delivery across the city (seeSelectionofdelivery
2003-2013,p33).
• To grow sustainably, the organisation needed to build its management team
forthenextstageofdevelopment.However,itsidiosyncraticnatureand
commitment to devolved internal leadership made it very complicated for
new senior managers to be integrated. This was tried several times and
was unsuccessful.
• Community Resolve was a young, untried and continually evolving organisation
and had lots to learn, including how to articulate what it was doing so that it
made sense for others.
‘We argued, debated and came to a consensus
because we all had the same aim and vision’ Worker
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4.2 Funding innovative community work in challenging times
• To genuinely value and use local knowledge, instead of simply paying lip service
to it, requires a mature response from traditional ‘power holders’ as it implies a
considerableshiftinhowtheycommission,manageandevaluatecommunity-
facing work.
• Developingandsupportingpeopleislong-termwork.Thestrainonalocal
person working in their own community is far greater than for those who can
withdraw from it. Public sector workers in frontline roles are offered opportunities
forclinicalsupervision,whichisrarelyaffordableinthevoluntaryandnon-prot
sector, even though their risks may be greater to themselves and their families.
• Acriticaldrawbacktocurrentfundingstrategyandallocationsforvoluntary
sector services is the lack of recognition of the need to fund the core of an
organisation,fromwhichdeliveryemerges.Mostfundsnowpayforproject
delivery work only, which eliminates any possibility of developing longterm
embedded teams that build on local skills and connections such as this.
This takes time, effort and upfront investment.
4.3 Community engagement – what’s the task?
• This report clearly demonstrates that it is possible for wide ranging groups of
people to feel pride, ownership and attachment to an organisation that they see
as‘ghtingtheircorner’.Managingsuchadiversityofviewischallengingbut
ultimatelyextremelycreative,aswellaspromotingamodelofrespectfulworking
across divides and difference – culture, age, economic status, class, etc.
• Deliberate community engagement through building on workers’ personal
‘socialcapital’,theirconnectionsandcommunitystanding,leadstoamulti-
directional ‘bridging’ effect that releases community energy and enthusiasm
and builds on individual skills, knowledge and connections at any and all levels.
• Gettingbuy-infromacrosstherangeofpeopleandbackgroundsinacity
requiresafacilitatedstructurethatallows‘co-design’–solutiondesignthat
buildsinideasfromacrossthespectrumofexperienceandknowledge,
including people on the ground, practitioners, residents, policy makers,
thinkersandtheorists.Again,thisshiftrequiresthoseholdingnancialand
commissioning power to rethink whose knowledge they value and why.
• Successfullyembeddingskillsandorganisationswithincommunities(or
groups, or institutions), and especially across diverse communities, requires
a demonstrated commitment to independence, impartiality, respect and
consistency. This can be achieved by big or small organisations as long as they
havethetrustoflocalcommunities-whichtakestimetobuildandcanbeeasily
undermined without careful attention. Enabling organisations to maintain their
integrity and independence is key to building true community support.
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4.4 Replication and scaling up
Thisreportwascommissionedinparttoexplorethekeyquestionofreplication
andscalingup,andinitwehaveattemptedtoextracthowandwherethis
learning could be useful elsewhere.
CommunityResolvedobelievethisworkisscale-able.Despitehavingtocloseits
Bristolofces,anddismantlingateamthatwasjustbeginningtoreallycomeinto
its own, Community Resolve would suggest that every city in the country could
develop a similarly small, independent and targeted team to build local community
facilitation skills levels across all backgrounds.
ItisnotaquestionofreplicatingCommunityResolveelsewhere,butofextracting
the values, qualities, principles and approaches that were used, and bringing
themtogetherinauniquecombinationtotanothersituationorneed.Byworking
with a sophisticated and nuanced understanding of how culture, identities,
emotionsandallaspectsofcontextandpowerinformlocalcommunityrelations,
such a team could provide local training – embedding skills and understanding –
alongside provision of specialist skills to manage the trickiest tensions and
conictthatarise.Itwouldbestaffedbylocalpeoplewhounderstandlocal
communitiesandtensionpoints,whouselocallanguageandexamples,
andwhowouldshapetheprojecttotthespeciclocalneedsofmulti-agency
and bridging requirements.
4.5 Community Resolve going forward
WhenCommunityResolvestartedoutinBristolin2001,itwasclearthatwhat
it was working on was a concept, a way of working within and with diverse
communities, rather than a ‘product’ as in ‘this is what we offer’. Over the
following decade (and more), the organisation had the great good fortune to be
abletoexplorethatconceptindetail,totryoutahugenumberofapproachesand
initiatives,andtodistillthoseexperiencesintoaclearprogrammeoflearning.
It is now at a new beginning, back to thinking about these ideas as concepts
ratherthanasasingleorganisation.Thistime,withthecondenceofthisreport
andadecadeofworkcompleted,CommunityResolveisexploringthepotential
ofsupportingembeddedteamsalloverthecountry,insteadofinjustonecity,
through key partnerships and networks, and through accredited online training
andmulti-media,multi-lingualplatforms.
‘[Community Resolve] showed us lots of ways into helping organisations
and helping each other. Putting on that rst event was the making of
[our] Community Trust I think...’ Serviceuser&partneragency
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Community Resolve aims to support this vision through a number
of routes:
• Developing online accredited online training courses to support any
organisations or individuals who want to pick up on some of the learning
outlined here, including mediation skills to use in in organisational
development,aswellastargetedskills-supportforfrontlineworkersinany
aspect of community, from health to housing.
• Continuing to produce quality skills, theory and practice training for community
activists across the country – watchashortlmonrelatedtraining.*
• Working with web and IT specialists to share these ideas through a range of
new media learning opportunities, translatable into a full range of languages to
enable a global discussion of these issues.
Overthenext10years,wehopetobuildavirtuallearningcommunityaround
these approaches that will serve to underpin the delivery of statutory and voluntary
services across the country and into the future.
‘A fantastic course... Loads interested me, ideas and models, really inspired me.’
‘Brilliant training - one of the best I have been on... very useful tools’
‘Extremely well facilitated’
‘Learning process very dynamic’

Chapter 4 To follow up...
Contents
Selection of delivery
and activity, 2003-2013
Appendix
1
33 Appendix 1 Selectionofdeliveryandactivity,2003-2013
year Young people/adults
aged 5-25
Community action
& adult training
Action research/
dissemination
2003 • Workwithyoungpeople/youthworkers/
familiesoverEaston/StPaulsstabbing
• Contract to: ‘create positive social and
personal development opportunities,
fosteringself-condenceandcohesion
amongst young people.’
• Coordination of strategy re long term
youth clashes in central Bristol
• FormationofBristolGangAwareness
Project(partofCR)steeringgroup
round issues of gangs and violence
• Contractto‘overcomeconict
within the community and
improve local people’s safety
byidentifyingthedeep-rooted
causesofuznrestwithinBS5’
• Startofactionresearchinto
‘hiddenconict’inEaston
and surrounding areas
2004 • Youth-ledConference“AreGangs
Family?”foraround150youngpeople
in central Bristol.
• Trainingforyouthworkers/community
members to work with young aspiring
‘gang’ members
• Development of Peer Educators aged
13-25torunworkshopsaroundgangs
and weapons, youth territorialism
• Conictresolutionandpeermediation
training, secondary schools
• Sortit!SchoolsPeermediationproject
• YouthtrainingwithLEAPConfronting
ConictbetweenSomaliandother
young people in Barton Hill
• Mentoringplan-GettingReal
programme–1-1one-for
work with YOT, those on
remand, etc
• FundsfromAllenLane
todevelop1stlanguage
mediatorprojectfocussing
on developing a common
languagearoundconict
across communities
• Conictmappingcentral
Bristol supported by
GovernmentOfceSouth
West(GOSW)
2005 • GangAwarenessProjectdevelopment
&formationofregularadult/agency
and young people steering groups
• Youth conference on bullying run by
young people
• Workshopsinprimary/
secondary schools
• Partnership with Choice FM for young
people’s roadshow
• Youth forum theatre group
Training for adults in
– Community facilitation;
–Youngpeopleandconict;
–Conictmanagement
– ‘Women of faith transforming
conict’;
– strategic approaches
toconict;
– Tailored courses
– police, wardens and youth
workers.
• ‘Conict,faith&funding
inEaston’-mapping
report launch
• Communityexhibition,
central Bristol artists,
• Images of our community’
2006 • ProductionofLaBoom,anti-knife
dramawhichtouredBristol&South
WestfundedbyGOSWandAvon&
Somersetpolice
• Communityexhibitionofwork
by community artists: ‘Different
faiths, different communities’
to promote understanding
across central Bristol
• Independent evaluation
of Community Resolve,
Juice Consulting
• Business feasibility report
commissioned
Continuesnextpage>
Contents
34
year Young people/adults
aged 5-25
Community action
& adult training
Action research/
dissemination
2006 • Work alongside the Probation service
and police in secondary schools, re the
consequences of knife crime
• WorkwithAvon&Somersetpolice
on the dangers of carrying knives
• DVDs-‘CaughtintheMiddle’-
produced as resource for schools and
youth clubs around impact of violence
• Work with young black men covering
masculinity,heritage,conictstrategies,
and life choices.
• Exploratorydiscussionsinanumberof
schools around issues of gangs, peer
pressureandconict.
• TraininginSouthWaleson
cultural aspects in mediation
• 2-daytrainingforpolicein
conictanalysis
• Three days network
developmentdays/training
fortheAshleyYouthandPlay
Partnership
• 1+1Projectestablished
followingresearchwithSouth
AsianwomeninBristol
• ‘HiddenSecrets’dissertation
basedon18months
researchintoconictwith
women from range of
SAsianbackgrounds
2007 • Trainingfor2000youngpeople(8-24)
• Training/facilitationaroundyouth
provision in the Dings
• Work in schools across Bristol
• Play Your part with police in all
secondary schools
• RespectforAlltrainingprogramme
– transition work, peer mediators,
weapon awareness workshops –
funded by central government via
Bristol City Council
• RespectforAlltrainingpackforanyone
working with young people on youth
violence,weapons,crime–5000
distributed free across the city
• Trainingfor500+adults
working with young people,
and800+inmanagingconict
• WorkwithBCC/SARIaround
Gypsy&travellerissues
• Somaliproject–building
internal solidarity
• 1+1Projectdevelopment–
support for isolated women
• AshmeadHousetenant
developmentproject
following clashes between
Somali/whiteresidents
• Developmentofstreet-based
outreach team
• Business Plan completed
• Pairedcross-cultureaction
researchersindoor-to-door
research into tensions in
Barton Hill tower blocks
2008 • QuarrelShop,conictresolutiontraining
programmewithLEAPConfronting
Conictforages20–23-three
participants become CR trainees
• Groupworkyoungmothers(13-16)
• Workshops, presentations and
assembliesin36youthclubs,schools,
pupilreferralunitsandFE/HEcolleges
• Mentoring, advocacy, coaching
for young men & women at risk
• (CYPS)commissionyear
of free training for adults
across the city on young
peopleandconict.
• Reportsonstreet-based
team pilot, funded by the
YouthCrimeActionPlan
(YCAP).
• ResearchwithUniversity
of England into attitudes
oflong-standingHillelds
residents, commissioned by
Bristol City Council
Appendix 1 Selectionofdeliveryandactivity,2003-2013
2009 • Preventative workshops on knife crime
with police and probation
• Workshops in primary and secondary
schoolsincludingpilotprojectson
“Faith&Behaviour”,givingMuslim
youngpeopleanopportunitytoexplore
their identities
• Groupworkwithidentied‘gangs’of
youngpeopleplus1-1workwithyoung
people, some self referred caught in
street violence
• 2largescalecommunity
interventions (one tower
block,onestreet)involving96
households-muchgreater
indirect impact
• Workaroundappropriatesex
education for diverse Bristol
Primary school
• Blackfathersgroups-
10menaged23-50attending
free13weekparentingcourse
• Hilleldscohesionresearch
withUniversityofEngland,
commissioned by Bristol
City council.
Continuesnextpage>
Contents
35
year Young people/adults
aged 5-25
Community action
& adult training
Action research/
dissemination
2009 • Sessionswithyoungblackmen
on masculinity
• SupportgroupforyoungBlackmen
16-22-whomeetweeklytocook,play
sport and discuss key issues, including
fatherhood and future while they eat
• WorkwithBristolMuseum,project
workingwith14to15-yearoldsabout
conictviatheirfamilyhistories
• SupportaroundStGeorge/Worlds
Endpubstabbingoflocalyoungman-
requestsforworkshop/supportservices
city-wide…
• V-biddelivery–recruitingyouth
volunteers,sevendifferentprojects,
including Making Waves radio show
• 1+1Projectworkwithisolated
Asianwomen
• Intense1-1supportfor
parents caught up in
youthjusticesystemvia
youth violence
• Crucial Conversations pilot
– young and older mediators
intergenerational mediation
between parents and teens
• Pub work – facilitation work
with central Bristol pub
owners and police to build
relationships and discuss
pressures/tensions
• Streetbasedteams,East
Central–exploring/working
on how young people and
adults share public spaces
by going out and talking to
them on the streets in areas
experiencingtensions.6
mthPilotofmixedteam–
age, gender, background –
in three Bristol area.
Appendix 1 Selectionofdeliveryandactivity,2003-2013
2010 • SchoolstrainingviaPlayYourPart,
RespectforAll,otherworkshops
• GroupworkwithMeritonyoungmothers
unit+Hartcliffeyoungmums
• AsheldYoungOffenders/schools/youth
club workshops
• ‘Targeted positive activities’ money for
transition work with young people in
East Central Bristol
• V-bid–109youthvolunteersrecruited
• Interactive programme of workshops &
1-1forfourBristolsecondaryschools
• 1-1mentoringreferralsincrease,from
Connexions&YOT,self-referrals
• Interschoolpupilconict–mediation,
group mentoring
• FacilitationStPaulsCarnival
team on communication
• 1+1project–workwith
isolatedAsianwomen
• Pub work – facilitation work
with central Bristol pub
owners and police to discuss
pressures/tensions
• Fridays@Mill-seereport
(startedNovember)
• SupportofnewStapleton
Road traders association
• UniversityofWestofEngland
Masters Module – Community
conict,communicationand
transformation
• Work with senior teams in
local schools
• StWerburghsCentreteam
facilitation
• Mediation skills training for
youngmediators,youth/
community workers
• Street-basedteam
Reports produced:
• Barriers to cohesion –
HilleldsConnecting
Communities research with
UniversityofWEngland
-researchdisseminated
around the country
• ‘It’s all about the here
and now’ – Why young
Bristolianswerejoining
gangs
• Talks delivered
across city
• Research lead for
InternationalAlertstudyof
4diasporacommunities
acrosstheUK–Pakistani,
Somali,Congolese
andSriLankan
2011 • Youthtraininginschools/FEacross
Bristol/beyond
• Fridays@Mill/Thursdays@docklands
• DevelopmentofMentoring+pilot
– young people in Lawrence Hill
mentoringothersintowork/training
• ‘MyNewFriends’photographicproject
withYr6intwoprimaryschoolsin
different‘territories’–seeshortlmof
pupilsaccountofproject:‘Ifeelmore
secure than what I did before’
• Fridays@Mill, food, guidance &
openaccessfor15-25s
• Thursdays @ Docklands, as
above
• StapletonRoadtraders
association
• UWEteaching–delivery
of Masters modules
• Mediation/conictcoachingfor
national charity
• CR‘HereandNow’
report presentation and &
lead,Bristol City Council
ScrutinyDayintowhyyoung
peoplejoingangs
• Diaspora communities and
conict-researchreportfor
InternationalAlert
Continuesnextpage>
Contents
36 Appendix 1 Selectionofdeliveryandactivity,2003-2013
year Young people/adults
aged 5-25
Community action
& adult training
Action research/
dissemination
2011 • StokesCroftdisturbanceswith
BCC/police
• Crucial Conversations pilot
• I+IProject
2012 • Fridays@Mill, Easton, food & open
accessfor15-25s
• Thursdays @ Docklands, as above
• Ongoing school workshops with police
– on weapons, gangs, leadership
• Schoolworkshopsinprimaryand
secondary schools across city
• Crucial Conversations, supporting
relationships between teens & parents
• Mentors+LawrenceHillpilot,linked
local peer mentors with mentees to get
people into work and training
• Leonardo da Vinci international
placement programme for Mill &
Dockland attendees
• BBC World in a Day participation
• Summertransitionprogramme,primary
to secondary schools
• Commission to delivery training
in managing community
relationships to Community
Organisers–seeshortlmon
training here
• Work with the Forgiveness
Project–mutualtraining,
prison delivery
• Trainingstaff&volunteers,St
Werburghs Centre
• UWEMastersmodulesx2
–‘Conict,communication,
transformation’
• Work with local Housing
Associationsonnumerous
residentconicts
• Trainingforhousingofcers
2013
to end
June
• ‘WhoamI?’photographicprojectwith
Yr6sinoneprimaryschool,exploring
their place and space
• Mentors+expandedCentralBristol
programme – see report
• Business training course for young
entrepreneurs
• Schoolsandinstitutionworkshops,
group programmes for all ages
• Supporttrainingforlocalyouthworkers
• Hilleldsdevelopmentand
support for community
initiatives
• Tenant facilitation for local
Housing associations
• Community Organiser training
Contents
Drawing on international
theory and practice
Appendix
2
37 Appendix 2 Drawing on international theory and practice
The pressures on UK urban environments are increasing as local
authorities have less to invest, populations diversify and resources
for those on the lowest income brackets – school places, housing,
jobs – become the focus of intra- and intergroup competition. The
nancial costs of managing the resulting clashes and social conicts
are enormous and set to grow. We need new strategies to deal
with contemporary urban realities, strategies that acknowledge the
complexities of our cities, the relational challenges thrown up by
increasing cultural diversity and population movements, and the
mounting pressures between competing individuals and groups of
differing value bases and social backgrounds.
WheresocialconictisacknowledgedwithinaUKsetting–whichis
rarely,beyondthebordersofNorthernIrelandorattimesofunavoidable
disturbances in the form of ‘riots’ – policy and governance responses are
mainly rooted in a legal and enforcement framework, with the police and the
courts as the primary bodies which engage with it. While there is a growing
acknowledgementofthepotentialofmediationorrestorativejusticetoprovide
more informal ways of settling disputes, too little is invested in them by
policy makers and statutory bodies to enable them to really take hold. More
generally,conictsofalltypesareseenasneedinginstantsolutions,tobe
contained and closed down as quickly as possible, a reductionist approach
thatoftenplacestheblameforconictsituationsontheindividual,andfails
torecogniseitscomplexitybothatanindividualandawidersocietallevel.
Thisreport-andtheorganisation’sworkasawhole-startsfromthe
positionthatthedynamicsofconictare‘universallysimilar,culturally
distinctandindividuallyunique’(DavidAugsburger1992),andthatconicts
thatatanylevel-betweenindividuals,groupornations-demonstrate
recognisablepatternsofescalation.Driversofconictwillalwaysbe
deeper than the apparent ‘presenting’ cause (think ‘straw that broke
thecamel’sback’)andwillincludeaparticularof-the-momentconation
of‘outofsight’triggers,rangingfromhistorical,socialandnancial
contexts,culturalframesandemotionalresponsestoindividualand
groupexperiencesaroundidentity,belongingandpowerrelations.
Internationalconicttransformationtheoryandpractice,withitsfocuson
therebuildingofcivilsocietypostviolentconict,offerslotsofleadson
how to build resilient, sustainable structures for civil society. Building on
traditionalconictresolutionapproaches,conicttransformationtookafresh
Contents
38
lookatpowerrelationsinconicts,questionedthegenderedandculturally
specicframesof1970sand80swin/winconictresolutionmodels,and
promotedtheneedtoworkwithasystemicunderstandingofconictover
anextendedtimeperiod.Conicttransformationtheoristsandpractitioners
seesocialconict/changeasanongoingdynamicprocesswhichrequires
both building and rebuilding relationships across divides while simultaneously
addressing the structural blocks that impact on those relationships.
JusttwostandoutideasforCommunityResolve-amongthemany,
manyusefulinsightswhichUKpractitionersmightengagewith-area)
the concept of identifying and working with what Lederach calls ‘insider
partials’, individuals who bring a deep understanding of local environments
andthepotentialtocrossdifferenceanddivides;andb)Galtung’sdigestible
andusefulABCmodelwhichaddressestheideaofout-ofsighttriggers
toconict,aswellasremindingusthatconictsneedtobeunderstood
andaddressedatabehavioural,attitudinalandcontextuallevel.
Thisbriefestofintroductionstotheideaofconicttransformationin
no way sums up the ideas and practice over the last three decades
in the most challenging of international environments. It is simply here
tointroduceUKfrontlinepractitionersandmanagerstoabasketof
usefulthinkingandexperiencethattheymightliketoexplorefurtherin
relationtomanagingdiversitywithinpressuredUKenvironments.

KevinBarge,
Berghof Foundation, Berlin
Veronique Dudouet
Danny Burns
SimonFisher
Diana Francis
JohanGaltung
Paul Hoggett
Michele LeBaron
John Paul Lederach
Jake Lynch
John Winslade
NormanFairclough
Appendix 2 Drawing on international theory and practice
Contents
Research
and participant
information
Appendix
3
39 Appendix 3 Methodology and participant information
Who did the research? The research team all had a history of work as
communityactivistsandprojectmanagers,aswellasexperienceinqualitative
research.AdvisingtheteamwasProfessorPaulHoggett,ProfessorinSocial
PolicyattheUniversityoftheWestofEngland.
Who took part? Community Resolve had built trust over years of working with
andfortheparticipantsinthisresearch,whichwasreectedinthenumbersthat
agreed to take part from every type of engagement the organisation – workers,
volunteers, service users, partner agencies, commissioners and funders.
Structure of the research It was agreed between Community Resolve
and the researchers that a snapshot qualitative approach would be used,
combiningethnographicobservationand1-1semi-structuredinterviews
overa3-monthperiod.Theintentionwastocollatedatafromthosewho
knew,commissionedorworkedwiththeorganisation,andtoextract
best practice and implications relevant to working within diverse and
complexcentralcityenvironments.Eachresearcherinterviewedanumber
ofparticipantsinperson,onthephoneorviaSkype.Allinterviewswere
digitally recorded and uploaded onto a secure site accessible only to the
researcher team. Written summaries highlighting the key themes emerging
fromtheinterviewswereaddedtotheeldnotesfromtheinterviews.
Data analysisAfterinitialinterviews,theresearchteammettodiscuss
thendings.Aselectionofsummarieswerecomparedandnew
levels of understanding about the participants emerged, clarifying
their relationships and perspectives to Community Resolve.
Ethical concernsAllparticipantsreceivedanemailoutliningtheaims
ofthestudy,guaranteeinganonymityandconrmingthatthereport
would written in a way that ensured that no opinions could be traced
backtoanindividualparticipant.Attheinterviewitself,participants
discussed and signed a consent form agreeing to take part.
Limitations of the research design For several reasons, fewer
service users were interviewed than initially planned, and the
complexityofparticipantrelationshipstotheorganisation,iein
multiple categories, was not captured by the interview questions
as this emerged later, in the analysis of the data collected.
Research team
LisaTozer
Cecile Jagoo
Phoebe Beedell
Advisor:
Professor
Paul Hoggett
Contents
40
n Black British
n White British
nAfrican-Somalian
nDualheritage(AfrCar/WhBrit)
nAfrican-Caribbean
nBritishAsian-Pakistani
nWhiteUS
nAfrican-Nigerian
nBlackUS
n White Irish
nBritishAsian-Indian
nWhiteScottish
15%
44%
15%
5%
2%
2%
2%
3%
3%
3%
3% 3%
Male
56%
Female
44%
56+
20%
16-25
17%
26-55
63%
Ethnic breakdown of research participants (selfidentication)
Gender breakdown of participants Age groups of participants
Appendix 3 Methodology and participant information
Contents
A place of safety
and inspiration
Appendix
4
41 Appendix 4Aplaceofsafetyandinspiration
Among the participants in the research were six young people (5 men, 1
woman) who talked about their experiences of Community Resolve at two
open access centres for young adults at the ‘hard to engage’ end of the
spectrum. In both settings, Community Resolve provided a free meal which
everyone would eat together, encouraging a sense of intimacy and belonging,
as well as providing an optional – but strongly encouraged – programme of
personal development activities that had the potential to break entrenched
cycles of exclusion. The six interviewees regularly attended and received
personal support from Community Resolve workers in the form of training,
mentoring and/or becoming mentors themselves over the preceeding two
years. Their contributions illustrate the profound impact Community Resolve
had on individual lives and the communities around them.
Safety and belonging
Allspokeappreciativelyoffamily-likerelationshipswithworkers,contrastingtheirtime
spentinCommunityResolvewithlesspositivealternativesavailabletothem.Key
to this familial sense of comfort and belonging was the character of the Community
Resolve workers, being ‘of the community’ and respected by the young people.
‘It’s a safe place to come... for the boys it was somewhere to chill out for a couple
of hours a day with their friends without the police stopping and searching them.
If they’re together outside, they’re a gang. More than 3 people is a gang, we
actually have signs around [the neighbourhood] saying you can’t having around
in groups of people or the police can stop and search you.’ Partner agency
One young man described how ‘there is fear’ among young people he knows
andhowdifcultitistogetoutthemoftheir ‘comfort zones’ to try new avenues.
Heemphasizedtheimportanceoftherapportbetweentheworkersandyoung
people and the ability for those workers to act as role models ‘because they are
doing it themselves’.
‘It’s been really good… all the workers treat you nice, make you nice food... you
can sit down and have a chat with them. If it wasn’t open on a Friday, I’d probably
be hanging out on the streets ... it’s the same for most people who come there.
There are people in here who are involved in drugs and... they just calm down here’
‘It’s better than being on the streets... I’m involved in a little bit of...but I come here
every Friday, I eat the food, I just relax’
‘I came here a boy and now I’m a man.’
Contents
42
‘This place is home, everyone knows it’s home... You get a good feeling out of it.’
Afewdescribedhowtheyhadexperienceofothersettingsbuttherewas
a difference in how friendly the regular open access sessions were:
[The CR worker] ‘is a very helpful guy, like my favourite…he knows me
from when I was proper young… The staff are more like older brothers
to me. If you do something wrong then they tell us how not to do... ‘
‘They will play basketball and join in... it’s not they just stand there,
watch and boss us around, they act like they’re your friends’
‘It’s not like when you leave that door they don’t care about you, they actually
help you get off the streets to try to make you do things that are productive’
Empowerment, growth and inspiration
Importantly, accounts described how these open access sessions provided
more than simply a safe space and respite from negative pressures. They
also provided support and encouragement – ‘the chance to grow’ – and it
is important to note that in many cases it has taken months or even years
of contact with the organisation for these activities to produce tangible
effectsintheformofeducationalqualications,smallbusinessstart-ups
oropportunitiestobecomementorsandconictworkersthemselves:
‘I reckon if I didn’t come here then I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’m doing my
A levels at the moment but if I didn’t come here years ago when I was 16 then
I wouldn’t be doing nothing... Everyone advise you to do something positive.’
‘With the work experience and the work skills I got… I was able to apply for
university.’
‘Coming here was a boost up... you get into contact with people and tell them
that I’ve started this and that.’
‘There’s people I wouldn’t get along with in day to day life but in here they taught
me to get along with everyone.’
In addition to individual material reward, the positive engagement work
undertaken by Community Resolve acted as a springboard for other positive
and collective activities. The importance of modelling a different response
andadifferent,moreself-awarereactionhadbeguntoestablishasenseof
responsiblecitizenshipinthosetheyworkedwith.Oneyoungmanspokeofthe
condencehewasgiventostartrunninghisownyouthgrouponaSaturday:
Appendix 4Aplaceofsafetyandinspiration
‘I look after the community and network
when I come here and that’s important.’
43 Web links
Contents
Web links
P4 Esmée Fairbairn’s
 http://esmeefairbairn.org.uk
P8 2001 riots
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2001_Bradford_riots
P8 New York 2001 attacks
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/September_11_attacks
P8 London bombings
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7_July_2005_London_bombings
P9 
 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Financial_crisis_of_2007–08
P21 
 http://www.leapconfrontingconict.org.uk
P32 
 http://www.cocollaborative.org.uk/users/community-resolve
Embedding skills to

A learning report on 10 years
of activity in Bristol, SW England
© Community Resolve 2014
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