Public Policy for the benefit of all
As a passionate advocate of progressive social justice, I’ve looked at CLES many times over the years and thought that it would be a great place to work. Joining this inspiring team of individuals, at this point in my career, feels like the perfect move.
Working for CLES offers me the chance to bring together the knowledge and skills I’ve developed over the last 9 years across academia, local government, health and the voluntary and community sector, to help reshape public services and local economies for the benefit of all.
In my first week at CLES, I’ve been looking at the fantastic work that so many local organisations are doing…
The notion that public policy should benefit everybody is well rooted in both my own and CLES’s philosophy, but the challenge of translating this core belief into everyday action, for everyone’s benefit, remains pervasive for policy-makers at all levels.
Our local communities are awash with innovative solutions designed to help improve people’s lives. In my first week at CLES, I’ve been looking at the fantastic work that so many local organisations are doing to improve people’s health, opportunity and wellbeing – initiatives to enable community businesses to thrive, the use of procurement, employment and investment opportunities to accelerate local economic growth, as well as policies to encourage people to be more active, for example.
When it comes to finding solutions to complex problems there can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach.
Nevertheless, there is always the danger that the benefits of public policy may be distributed unfairly, allowing inequalities to be perpetuated. When it comes to finding solutions to complex problems there can be no ‘one size fits all’ approach. A broad suite of interventions may therefore be required to account for the fact that different people respond to different programmes in different ways. To be more active, for example, some people might need prompting by their GP. Others may prefer the feedback from a device such as a pedometer, or from interventions online. Some people might need greater levels of social support to feel empowered, whilst others may increase their activity in response to prompts about reducing their car use on environmental grounds.
To be confident that a suite of interventions will work for the benefit of everybody, we need to know more about why individual interventions may be successful or not, for whom, in what circumstances and why. This type of approach, known as realist evaluation, starts with a series of theoretical assumptions about an intervention’s effectiveness and then seeks to test these theories against the evidence.
Realist evaluation is an approach that I’ve used in health policy research to combine theory and practice knowledge to meet the real-time needs of policy makers. I’ve found it a useful tool for responding to time-sensitive and emerging issues, where there is limited resource, enabling policy makers to understand how possible interventions could be implemented within a specific context to produce the desired outcome.
In taking up my new associate director role, my intention is to incorporate this approach to policy research and consultation into the CLES think and do model, collaborating with the team to continue their fantastic work.