The view from Cardiff

Nov 23, 2018

By Vikki Holloway, consultant

Yesterday I was invited to a workshop in Cardiff being run by Barry and Adam from HACT to develop the Centre for Excellence in Community Investment. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect… 

It was a small-ish group, maybe twelve people, but those that attended obviously had an interest in making community investment a higher priority on organisation agendas.  My background however, isn’t strictly in community investment and so I sat like a fly on the wall to start with while I thought about what it meant from my perspective. 

We were asked to consider and give feedback on four themes:  innovate, insight, influence and inspire. Two of those in particular, struck a chord with me. 

The first was innovate.  I wondered, how much do we really innovate as a sector? One of my passions is strength-based working because it puts the individual receiving the services at the centre of their own life, and it has a host of evidence-based benefits for the individual, service providers and society. In a strength-based model, community is key because somewhere in there will be a variety of resources that might otherwise go untapped.  

For a number of years, I worked with people leaving prison, helping them to adjust to living on the outside. It was clear that without a sense of community, connections, accountability and support (from non-statutory services), the task is so much harder. 

So how do we get strength-based working into business as usual and not only operationally and into service delivery? My expertise is in strength-based leadership as I believe that it’s difficult to offer strength-based services if the ethos and practices of the organisation aren’t run in the same manner.  It needs to be on everyone’s agenda. 

The second area to pique my interest was influence, perhaps because I work with Boards and I’m a Board member myself.  To make stuff happen it has to be a priority for the organisation; it has to be aligned with the objectives that when delivered, achieve the vision people are signed up to.  With this in mind it’s worth considering that Boards are stewards of the organisation, making decisions to try and achieve positive outcomes for years to come.  So what will make a Board turn its collective head and really go for something? 

Understanding the foundations of the organisation, where are they coming from and what their values are is a good starting point.  It’s helpful to remember that Boards have a difficult task in the current climate of relentless change and operating environment uncertainties, which are increasing with the political climate and increasing regulatory pressure.  Therefore, risk will be a key issue and topics that are not one of the organisation’s key risks may never be discussed in the Boardroom. 

As I contemplate the question, “what is the risk of not investing in communities?” and mull over my days of working with people leaving prison, developing services for addiction and  running homeless shelters my answer is that not investing in, or recognising the importance of community investment is a risk for us all, because the societal impact is one that we are paying the price for already. 

That’s why the roadshows with Barry and Adam, who are passionate about communities, are so important. It’s my hope that attendees of any of the events, will go back and have meaningful conversations with their managers and staff. We had really good discussion yesterday and people made worthwhile connections; it’s certainly put community investment back on my agenda. 


Vikki’s aim is to help organisations to shine; she is passionate about strength-based leadership and is a Fellow of the Chartered Management Institute and a member of the Association of Corporate Governance Practitioners. 

You can contact Vikki on Linkedin: 

News & views