Places Called Home: a pilot partnership
At the end of June this year, we announced a new funding and support programme - a pilot partnership between The National Lottery Community Fund and IKEA UK. The programme, Places Called Home, aims to inspire and enable activities to build connected, resilient and sustainable communities and places - you can read more about it here. In this blog post we share more about the partnership and its wider ambitions.
Why we wanted to partner
It was June 2020, during a new COVID reality, that we initially came together to discuss a partnership between The National Lottery Community Fund and IKEA UK. The Fund were interested in how it could work alongside the power of business - particularly a business that aligned in terms of values and purpose - to achieve some of the key goals around supporting powerful and thriving communities. IKEA, on the other hand, is committed to adding social and environmental value beyond the immediate business, and partnering with other likeminded and committed organisations is a key way to achieve this.
We quickly discovered an overlap in some of our core values and ambitions. The National Lottery Community Fund’s purpose of supporting communities to thrive with people in the lead seemed perfectly aligned with the IKEA vision of creating a better everyday life for the many people and a deep commitment that better and sustainable living should be affordable, accessible and simple for all.
We also found common ground in the ‘everyday-ness’ of our two brands. Both the National Lottery and IKEA are prominent in the eyes of the public - we are on street corners and in peoples’ homes across the country - we’re features of everyday life that people know and trust, and we're for everyone.
Finally, we share a belief in the existence of creativity and ingenuity within communities. During the pandemic we have seen across the country how people have come together to support each other and their communities. Whether it was local government, local grassroots groups, informal groups or local businesses, or a combination of all four, people were united by their shared humanity in the face of crisis. At the heart of much of this work was the action and coordination of effort and resources around a common cause and common values: to make life better for those who needed it most during an incredibly difficult time.
Overall, it became immediately clear that by working together we could build stronger plans and reach more people, new neighbourhoods and communities - not only by providing funding and resources, but by creating a field of action where empowered communities can thrive. We all have a role to play in shaping the conditions for new forms of action to emerge - together, the partnership between The National Lottery Community Fund and IKEA hopes to contribute to just that.
Beyond the deep alignment of our organisational values and purpose, there were other reasons that we wanted to form this partnership - other assets and connections we each have that, when brought together, we want to catalyse to strengthen neighbourhoods and communities across the UK.
First and foremost, our teams - our own internal communities - are crucial to the success of our partnership going forward. Colleagues at The National Lottery Community Fund and IKEA UK live within communities across the UK and have a wealth of collective experience, wisdom and local connections that will breathe life into the partnership.
We also both work with trusted partners and have access to diverse networks - by tapping into them we can enhance not only the resilience and strength of our own work, but also that of the initiatives and communities who are funded and supported through the collaboration. By coming together, other people, organisations and communities we partner with and fund will gain access to a broader range of spaces and key people and businesses within their communities.
In order to develop a programme of support to complement the financial grants, we have partnered with Participatory City, a National Lottery funded organisation building practical participation into everyday life in Barking and Dagenham through the Every One Every Day initiative. IKEA UK has been partnering with Every One Every Day for the last 12 months on Tomorrow Today Streets, which supports residents to start multiple projects with their close neighbours. Learning from and leveraging their unique on-the-ground expertise and experience, Participatory City will be working with all the organisations that applied to Places Called Home to spark meaningful, participatory, creative activity and help to build peer-to-peer networks across the country as the projects come to life. Participatory City has proven that enabling and building a culture and practice of participation, co-creation and citizen engagement is key to creating lasting place-based impact.
We are also working with Middlesex University on a learning and evaluation framework to better understand how the combination of grants, a community of support and knowledge sharing, brought together in this unique set of partnership, can yield meaningful and lasting impact. This research will be essential for understanding what works in stimulating and supporting an inclusive, connected and sustainable way of life.
Those who are not successful in applying for a grant will still be able to access the Places Called Home virtual learning and support programme, and will join a network of communities able to connect, co-create, learn from each other, and grow together. The learning programme builds on IKEA Live LAGOM, a community built around simple ideas, inspiration and tips to live sustainably at no extra cost. We hope to encourage all community groups to be part of this partnership and to be more active in their engagement and action, regardless of the outcome of the initial round of applications.
An Ambitious Partnership
Through this partnership, we hope to explore and advance a range of priorities and activities together. For example, we aim to put the importance of connected, resilient, sustainable households and neighborhoods on the map for many more people; by funding, supporting and resourcing communities. We will raise awareness and encourage action, attracting more and more people within both communities, businesses and funding networks to get actively involved in the creation and renewal of future thriving, resilient and powerful communities.
We hope to strengthen the capacity and practice of communities that engage with the programme in various ways:
- by helping them to feel supported to invest further in coming together as a community, strengthening their collective resilience as a result
- by increasing the numbers of people participating in shared community activity and effort in their neighbourhoods
- by enhancing their access to better quality, more accessible, usable and desirable local community spaces and how those spaces are used for common benefit. This in turn will increase the use of these community and common spaces as well as the desire to maintain them, strengthening community, neighbourhood and household resilience
- By supporting them to develop their capabilities and knowledge around co-creation and participation
Over time we also want to explore new models for and approaches to resourcing communities, ones that enable the longer-term systemic shifts that will see communities and neighbourhoods across the UK more connected and resilient, invested in caring for their communities as an extension of their homes, and able to adapt to future shocks.
For IKEA UK and The National Lottery Community Fund, we hope that this partnership will give us the opportunity to test out on a small scale how a new partnership between the largest funder of community activity in the UK works with one of the largest international brands. We will be navigating new territory in seeking to understand what success looks like for such a long-term partnership between the private sector and civil society. In doing so, we will explore what it takes to establish a growing community of best practice that invites other partners into the collaboration over time.
For this reason, alongside the funding and support partnership, this Autumn we will also be initiating a Learning Lab for interested parties, including other funders and businesses. We will share what we are learning and are looking for fellow travellers who are already, or who want to explore, what it means to build shared community missions, across sectors, and drawing on different kinds of capital and assets.