Report and stories launched by Community Catalysts: Enabling people to ‘do it for themselves’

December 4, 2019

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by Angela Catley, Director of Development, Community Catalysts

A few years ago I read an excellent document published by the Carnegie UK Trust called A routemap to an Enabling State. The document really grabbed me as it was accessible and clear and asked some questions about public service delivery that fit so well with the work of Community Catalysts.

In 2015, we decided to put in a bid for the Enabling State Challenge as a way to shine a bit of a light on our successful partnership with the community and council in Worcestershire. The project nurtured small community enterprises operating in the health and care space whilst also helping the council to think differently, learn from communities and begin to develop new ways of working. All of which seemed to us to link well with Enabling State, a hunch which proved correct when in 2015 we were selected as one of only six winners, securing a cash prize of £5,000 and the inclusion of our story in the Trust’  Enabling State report.

Fast forward a few years and I recently spotted the review of the Enabling State. I was heartened to see that despite the passage of time it was still totally in synch with our work. Looking at the policy shift areas cited in the new report, I was particularly taken with the focus on people as leaders of the outcomes they want to see, for example, ‘from top down to bottom up’ and ‘from recipients to co-producers’. It put me in mind of some of our current work and one project in particular.

We work in a bit of a bubble – the world of health and social care. It’s a sector that is always complex and often baffling, one which on the face of it is all about people…but you don’t have to dig too deep to see that the people who are supposed to benefit are rarely in the driving seat.

Community Catalysts has the privilege to work every day with people, communities and organisations that want different and do different. Imaginative, energetic people who are challenging the dated stereotypes and creating a different reality for themselves and others. A quiet, and quietly satisfying, little revolution that sits firmly in Enabling State territory.

But the folks whose story I really want to tell are the individuals and small groups of people who have personal experience of time in the health and care bubble. People who need care or support to live  their lives. People who live with challenges every day – usually placed on them by the system or society as a whole.  Community Catalysts developed a strand of activity, called People Can to focus on these people. In particular those individuals who refuse to disappear quietly into the fog of negativity. As part of People Can we were recently involved in a National Lottery Community Fund project called People doing it for themselves and its whole purpose was to shine a huge spotlight on the positives. Strengths instead of needs, citizen instead of service user, can instead of can’t.


We have been working hard to find out what helps these people (and the folks around them) to value their strengths and believe in themselves, to coproduce and lead. We found and connected with people in England, Scotland and Wales; in cities and villages. Men and women, of all ages, who live with conditions like dementia or autism or epilepsy; those define themselves as disabled and others who experience challenges with their health. All of whom are actively, intentionally and gloriously leading positive change for themselves or others. Strengths at the forefront with needs still there but well out of focus.

We’ve realised there is such a lot to learn and also that we are only seeing the tip of this hugely positive iceberg as it juts jauntily clear of the fog of negativity. We have distilled what we’ve learnt so far for sharing with anyone into a report  (with an easyread version ) and detailed stories of nineteen people and groups .We believe that everyone has the power and inclination to create the conditions for creative, talented citizens to shine.

To learn more contact Angela Catley on 01423 503937 or email on [email protected]