anchor institution networks

How do we level up the UK?

Focus on quality jobs that work for people

This article originally appeared in the New Statesman.

Attracting the inward investment of big capital doesn’t always lead to better outcomes. People need well-paid, good-quality jobs in the communities where they live.

Regardless of your views on levelling up as a political catchphrase, there’s no doubt it hints at a remedy for feelings of place abandonment that have become all too common over the past 30 years as communities across the UK have seen their jobs, identity and hope slowly sucked away.

Anchor networks sow the seeds of change

This article originally appeared in the HSJ.

Recent months have seen an increased interest in anchor institution networks, whereby NHS institutions and partners – like local authorities, universities, housing associations and the VCSE sector – collaborate to develop solutions to local social and economic problems. At CLES we work with and support many of these networks and, as this interest fuels an increase in activity, we are observing how these collaborations are not simply firefighting problems as they arise but also feeding into a more fundamental change in how anchor institutions view their role in the local economy.

In my role as Co-ordinator for the Birmingham Anchor Network I have been privileged to observe this process in action. This time last year the Network launched its pilot Hospitality to Health employment programme, as a response to an urgent employment crisis being faced by two of its members. Housing association, Pioneer Housing Group, were concerned about the number of their residents at risk of redundancy from a hospitality sector reeling from the effects of Covid-19, while at the same time University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust needed to recruit significant numbers of staff at entry level positions to support in responding to the pandemic.

Serendipity doesn’t have to be left to chance

In the final blog of his series for this year, exploring the power of anchor institution networks, Conrad Parke discovers that what sometimes looks like serendipity is really intent.

Last Friday we had the final Birmingham Anchor Network co-ordination group meeting of 2020. As this turbulent year draws to a close our main agenda item was the agreement of the Network’s priorities for 2021. However, I think because of the proximity to Christmas, a number of the usual attendees (who are either Chief Exec or director level) had to send replacements who, in the main, were more operationally focussed.