Exchanges for change

Exchanges for change

CTRLshift has completed a significant programme of action research into supporting place based approaches to shifting power locally, with partners Stoke CTRLShift City (SCSC).

The overarching question for the research project was: “How can connections and relationships of mutual aid between local and national partners aimed at shifting power locally be facilitated in ways that are simple, effective, quick and low cost?”A series of workshops or ‘Exchanges’ was arranged which brought together local organisations and individuals working on locally identified priorities with national CTRLshift partners with relevant knowledge and experience. The Exchanges were designed to provide opportunities for mutual exchange and sharing of knowledge and skills.

The project contributed towards the development of an effective process of support provision for place-based action that was flexible, exploratory and non-prescriptive. This was underpinned by supportive locally-led facilitation which enabled people to stretch in safety and which created a space for people to think and reflect together about how they might start to shift power locally in relation to the different themes.

Photo: Counter Community

Key learnings from the process included the recognition of the importance of narrative and identity as a tool for collective empowerment, and that the idea of “shifting power” was felt to be useful and provided a new language which enabled local participants to discuss the themes of making, planning, democracy etc. within new framings of narrative, identity, and power dynamics.

You can read the full report here.

Stoke CTRLShift City was born out of the Emergency Summit for Change, held in Stoke on Trent in 2019. The group is a collective of organisations and individuals, mainly from the VCSE sector, who came together following the last Summit to actively test some of the solutions work shopped at the Summit in the Stoke area (covering Stoke on Trent and North Staffordshire). Their goal is to accelerate the shift in power to communities and individuals in relation to social, economic, democratic and environmental crises.

The National CTRLshift organisation, worked in partnership with SCSC to broker new relationships between some of its partner members and the groups and organisations in SCSC through a series of ‘exchanges’. 

SCSC identified a number of key themes within which they wished to explore, with support from national CTRLshift partners, how power could be shifted more locally, namely: (i) mental wellbeing & caring, (ii) making and selling, (iii) democracy, (iv) value creation and exchange, (v) planning and regeneration and (vi) local food growing. 

The exchanges were locally organised and facilitated with the aim of providing a springboard for partner members involved in the exchanges to develop ongoing relationships with communities in Stoke.

Exchanges for Change was part funded by Local Trust, who are also supporting Big Local and Creative Civic Change projects in the area, and in part self-funded by CTRLshift partner members. It was managed as an action research project to learn from communities in Stoke about how best to share skills and find out how CTRLshift can resource communities across the country flexibly, effectively and at speed.

We believe that the work undertaken in Stoke and North Staffordshire provides a template for how local and national CtrlShift partners can work together to accelerate the fundamental shifts we need to make as a society by building capacity, knowledge and relationships of reciprocity and mutual aid.