It was just over two years ago that I left my role as Strategic Design Director at Doteveryone and started my role at The National Lottery Community Fund, to run the Digital Fund on what was initially a 1 year contract. That was extended to a 2 year contract but 18 months in I started a new role running the UK Portfolio.

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So what have I learned? It felt like a good time to step back and reflect.

The practice

I never imagined I’d be talking about foresight and futures so much

When Roland interviewed me for the On The Edge podcast last year, he asked me about my ‘futures practice’ and I remember looking at him blankly. I was barely aware that I had one. I realise now that was because I had spent years taking for granted that it was common place in the practice of those I was working with, and embedded in everything I was doing. …


2020 has been a year of unparalleled uncertainty. Our lives have been turned upside-down. Things we took for granted have changed in front of our eyes. We’ve all had to deal with unpredictability on an unprecedented level, to the extent that Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year is actually unprecedented. Our lives are weirder and more complex than ever.

This is an event we ran to launch the tools with their intended audience — women under 30, with excellent panellists — Kiran, CEO of Girl Dreamer, Alysha of Gal-dem, and Kira from the Young Women’s Trust.

This post was written by Ella, with input from me!

In our work, Cassie and I have both been tackling big societal challenges for decades and part of that has involved learning and practicing how to navigate, and to *be* in complexity. For years, academics and practitioners have been thinking about how to navigate complexity, developing useful concepts, insight and practices. …


“Dear Cassie, such an inspiring talk today at the ACF conference, thank you so much, I have learnt a great deal from you and got really motivated for my own project. Now I better understand in what direction to drive the European philanthropy community and how to facilitate the discourse”

“LOVED your ACF session — a breath of fresh air. Just what was needed.’

I started the session by using a slightly adapted version of the embodied dreaming journey I took people on back in February at my Service Design in Gov keynote.

“I’m going to now invite you to close your eyes.


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We recently invited Cassie Robinson, Senior Head, UK Portfolio at The National Lottery Community Fund to join us for our first virtual event, Transitions.

Whenever I talk about the Stewarding Loss work I start by acknowledging that talking about organisational endings at this time, is happening in the shadow of the enormous loss of human life. So many lives have been lost over the past 9 months, and continue to be. I just want to take a moment to consider that.

The strain on organisations is of course being felt too, and organisations are anticipating closures and reduction of services.

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And as we know, so much of the experience of the pandemic is an unequal one — demonstrated in the work Ubele did at earlier in the crisis, that highlighted how BAME-led organisations were especially at risk of not surviving. …


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These are Three-Week-Notes. Sometimes we feel quiet, and I’ve definitely been feeling quiet these last few weeks. There’s so much going on. There’s also times when you want to say so much, but you can’t because of the Civil Service Code, so it’s better to say nothing at all.

First off, if you’ve not read it yet, this speech is so powerful. And if you haven’t seen this event going on today and tomorrow (it’s already a few days in) there are so many great sessions. Thank you Araceli for sharing it with me.

Lots has been launched the last few weeks too. …


This is a copy of a blog post I wrote as part of our CEO’s latest announcement, which you can read here.

As the largest grant funder of community activity in the UK, the National Lottery Community Fund has a clear role and responsibility to equip and support civil society to navigate, adapt to and thrive in the future. A civil society that is fit for the future requires us to be a holistic grant-maker — offering our funding products and support through grantmaking, but also the ability to share, learn and generate thinking.. …


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On Thursday I spoke at the London Funders conference on a panel with these folk.

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I was asked to talk about lessons learnt, personal reflections and the long-term. As I always do now I started my talk with both an acknowledgement of the huge and devastating loss of human life in the last 7 months, alongside an acknowledgement of future generations.

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A bullet-pointed list of what I spoke of —

Organisational lessons learnt in the last 7 months

  • We were lucky to be well set up technically, were able to adapt to more flexible working, and could really see what is and isn’t essential.
  • Over time we’ve started to notice what is missing — space to come together creatively, opportunity for serendipity and connection, and less visibility of each others’ work. …


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Keeping it super short this week, as it’s been a long week —in fact a really tough one for many people I think.

This week I have just 3 questions.

1—

In our Fund-wide Scanning + Sensing Network session yesterday we spoke about what communities still have in place for this next wave of the crisis — what has been sustained? And are communities prepared? With people in this week’s session from Wales, Northern Ireland, Durham, London, Manchester, Newcastle etc, there was of course different views and experiences. It did get me thinking though about how much communities are planning together for the months ahead. By communities, I mean the villages, the neighbourhoods, the wards, the streets, the hamlets, the blocks of flats, the estates. I created the tool below, printed it out with my mobile number on, and have taken it to the local village shop to go in the window. …


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A few highlights first.

Last Sunday evening, thanks to Nick Gardner who heads up the Climate Action Fund in my team, I was able to join a live discussion with David Attenborough about his latest work — a A Life on Our Planet. I was most struck by David saying he isn’t especially hopeful or despondent, he’s a realist and that is the space he thinks it’s important to stay present in.

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I love these two resources I came across this week — Black Voices on the City is a student-organised database that aims to catalogue contributions of Black researchers and practitioners to the field of urban planning and city design, and amplify those voices. …


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I missed Weeknotes last week, so this will be a kind of ‘fortnightnotes’, however, to keep things short, there’s been so much going on in these last two weeks that I’ll just highlight some of the most important or interesting events and conversations, and then for each share a few key points.

Funding ecologies, assemblages and social or community missions

Last week we took some funding programmes to the UK Funding Committee for sign-off. All three were successful in getting the go-ahead, and we can share more about them in the coming months as we develop them with an ambition to open early 2021. I’m excited about the potential of all of them but one feels especially interesting because it feels like new territory, where we don’t quite know how to do it and will need to learn with others along the way. …

About

Cassie Robinson.

Senior Head, UK Portfolio at The National Lottery Community Fund & Co-founder of the Point People. Previously Strategic Design Director at Doteveryone.

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