partnership working

Developing resources to support place-based working

updated on 14 Feb 2024
3 minutes

The NCIA action learning programme is moving along at full speed. NCCPE Senior Project Officer, Zoe Williamson, blogs about the development of the Place Navigator and how you can get involved.

Screenshot of the main categories of infrastructure from the NCIA place navigator tool

The NCCPE is a partner of The National Civic Impact Accelerator (NCIA), a Research England funded programme, which aims to promote collaboration between universities, local government, business groups, and the community sector to drive place-based transformations. As part of the NCIA the NCCPE is running an action learning programme for 12 civic partnerships. The partnerships joined themed groups to share and learn from each other to address their civic challenges and aspirations. Partnerships are made up of members of staff from a range of organisations (not just Universities), we have representatives from councils, voluntary sector organisations, further education and charitable foundations. 

Read more about the themed groups  

Through the action learning process, the NCCPE team are identifying challenges that exist across the sector; one specific challenge is how to navigate the broad range of organisations and political structures that exist in a place. Participants feel that they simply don't have enough understanding of the policies, cultures and priorities of the different kinds of organisations working in their localities, and wanted help to quickly access this kind of information. They also reflected that how these organisations work together, how they are resourced, and how they are organised will be different in different places - impacting on how they need to design their civic engagement strategies. The idea of a 'Place Navigator' emerged from these discussions, the NCCPE has been working with the Institute for Community Studies to mock-up how such a resource might work.  

The ‘Place Navigator’ aims to support different organisations to work together for the benefit of their place and the citizens that live there. It will do this by looking into these questions; 

  • What organisations and infrastructures might operate in a place?  
  • What role does politics play in these infrastructures?  
  • How can we find out what the priorities are of these organisations? 
  • How can we work together for the benefit of a place? 
  • How have organisations worked together in the past? What can we learn from this? 

 This work builds on previous work of the NCCPE, through the Enhancing Place-based Public Engagement programme and our report on 'Achieving Equity in Place-Based Public Engagement'. With support from an action learning group, we have produced a basic version of the place navigator that has undergone several iterations, and we are now keen to obtain feedback from others who may find it useful. This feedback will further inform the development of the resource. 

Research England has funded the first phase of the Place Navigator, as such our current version aims to clarify the political geographies in England. Once we have an effective working model, we will be exploring how it would need to be adapted to reflect the different contexts across the UK. If you are based in Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, we would be very interested in your thoughts on the differences in your context. 

To make this a robust tool for anyone looking to do place-based working we would benefit from having some critical friends. We are also looking to add case studies to illustrate how organisations are carrying out place-based working together. We would really value your input as a potential user of the tool.

Please take a look at our current draft version of the Place Navigator

You can then share your thoughts, and suggest a case study, on our Place Navigator Padlet.