Regular collaboration of the institutions, organizations and experts dealing with and working for the citizens and their communities for a specific purpose or for the implementation of a project or task, with the general purpose of reconciling and harmonizing the greatest possible range of their activities.
Purpose of the activity
The primary goal is to ensure that the support and help that the people and their communities in our municipality and region find important reach as many people as possible. This includes any information, advice, encouragement or venues they might need for their community activities, and also information, advice or help they might need in their personal lives, either when ‘everything is fine’ or when in a crisis situation.
As far as the institutions are concerned, the goal is that the institution should be at the citizens’ disposal in as many cases as possible, either by making an increasing number of activities and services available within the institution, or ‘only’ by being able to give precise directions to the citizens as to where they can find answers to their questions. Another goal is to develop a process of ‘participatory institution building’, as part of a collaboration. It is equally important to make sure that the users, the local community are able to shape and control this collaboration, i.e. they have an effect on its functioning and development. These are fundamental points in community development.
human and public services, sectoral and inter-sectoral collaboration
- local institution, organization, local government staff
- material: stationery, computer
- financial: costs of joint events and activities
Nothing special is required for starting collaboration and for maintaining their intensity: a table and chairs, where we can sit down and start talking. In other words, it is not the personal, material and financial conditions that determine this activity. On the other hand, however, collaboration is not easy to start, to maintain the intensity and to increase the level of activity (otherwise it would be an organic part of our daily lives), because it requires the following:
- a cause, an issue to collaborate for: it might be the well-being of the citizens of our municipality or region (i.e. to make sure that they feel well), but in most cases this is too big a task, difficult to grasp, difficult to translate into specific activities, so collaboration is easier in terms of more specific activities and programmes (see our chapter on ‘Applied tools and methods’),
- time: we need time to find out about one another, about the goals, activities, strengths and weaknesses of our institutions, and we need time to sit down to talk, think, plan, etc.
Applied tools and methods
- We need to start with a list of institutions and organizations providing human and public services in our community or region. Apart from municipal institutions (institutions with a local budget), we need to include NGOs, church and market organizations as well. In other words, we should think in terms of an inter-sectoral collaboration. We also need to list the important experts in our municipality or region, be they active or retired, whose expertise, knowledge, contacts and professional authority can contribute to caring for the needs of our municipality or region.
- Let us find out about these institutions, organizations and experts by finding as many sources as possible about them on the internet. Then we should go to see them, even if we bump into them regularly in various offices or in the corner shop. Let us visit them and ask them about the details of their activity, their everyday successes and difficulties. Let us suggest collaboration.
- Let us invite these institutions, organizations and experts to a conversation. Let us make this a regular event, taking place e.g. four times a year. We must not lose heart if only a few people turn up first or when there are only a handful of people sitting around the table. The important thing is that we meet regularly, e.g. at 4 p.m. on the first Tuesday of every third month.
- Let us find out how each of us can contribute. We may want to set up a matrix or a list of the shared and different qualities and capacities, or draft an institutional knowledge pool.
- Let us define the subject and purpose of our collaboration. We suggest that it should start with easily implemented issues, such as:
- harmonizing our events calendar,
- visiting each other with a particular programme, e.g. the cultural centre in the middle of the settlement could hold its arts and crafts class in the other institution at the edge of the settlement once a month to make sure that people who found it hard to leave their immediate environment should also be able to join and find out about this opportunity. In case our collaboration yields tangible results, implemented without the involvement of special resources, we might start thinking about a joint project. It is a good idea to involve a partner institution into certain activities of a project even if we feel we could implement the activity in question on our own. E.g., if we are planning several events within the project, a few of them should be implemented outside our home ground, distributed among the institutions of our municipality or region.
6. We should personally be involved in making the community survey and the community action plan, suggesting activities and undertaking the implementation of a few. We should encourage as many institutions as we can to do so. Meanwhile we need to make sure not to implement anything the citizens and their communities could and would like to, as the goal of the community development process is to activate the locals.
Results, expected outcome
- Local inhabitants will have more of their questions answered by the institutions, and they will not hesitate to contact us in issues of great importance to them.
- Our institution will be better embedded locally and regionally.
- New possibilities open up for contacts and networking with the help of the new partners.
- These will enrich the activities of our institution, and we will find it easier to implement our tasks.
- Our staff will increase their expertise and extend their professional network.
- Partnerség, szakmai együttműködés [Partnership, professional collaboration]. In: Beke, M. – Ditzendy, K. A. (eds.). Integrált közösségi és szolgáltató terek. [Integrated community and service spaces] Methodological manual. 2008, Budapest, HROD, p. 76-82. http://ikszt.modszerkozpont.hu/kezikonyv/Partners%C3%A9g,_szakmai_egy%C3%BCttm%C5%B1k%C3%B6d%C3%A9s
- Pallai, K.: Társadalmi részvétel – bevezetés a helyi önkormányzati képviselők számára. 2010. [Social participation – an introduction for local government representatives] Hungarian National Association of Local Authorities. http://www.pallai.hu/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/toosz-ctp-tarsadalami_reszvetel_last.pdf
This article based on the following document: Community development methodological guide