In the months leading up to the start of the COVID pandemic WSP made an office move into the centre of our delightful market town of Knaresborough in North Yorkshire. Despite being largely a virtual team we have core members who benefit from the office environment, hot-desks for visiting team members and a nice ‘board room’ style meeting place. But we also wanted to give back to our community and so set about engaging in the local Chamber of Trade and Commerce and, in our spare time, developing an infant community development organisation that we hoped would make use of some community space on the ground floor of our new offices.
COVID changed all that! The office closed and whilst being incredibly busy in our COVID modelling work the rest of our work-in-progress paused big time! So, we took the opportunity. Nick, one or our senior consultants, went on furlough and within weeks was heading up Knaresborough Connectors, recognised by North Yorkshire County Council as the Community Support Organisation for our town and surrounding villages.
Connectors has built on best practice in asset based community development (ABCD) and owes a lot to those that WSP has worked with over the years in the hospice/end of life care sector through their pioneering work on compassionate communities. We’ve learnt from Frome and similar examples of ‘connector’ schemes and social prescribing and blended this with our relational value framework to develop a new Lived Experience Framework (please contact Nick.Garrett@thewholesystem.co.uk for more information) for assessing the potential of a local community to build toward greater resilience. As Nick returns to his day job Knaresborough Connectors now has its own Development Manager and the ongoing support of WSP in giving back to its local community.
And so back to our office space. After some buildings maintenance work and general tidying up we’ve had our first opportunity to use the space for a community event. Shirley is a local artist who’s showcasing her work in Knaresborough Festival Entertainment and Visual Arts (FEVA). Here is with some of her work…