There is increasing awareness of the need for a different kind of public service: one that helps people thrive and fulfill their potential rather than reacting to crises. Despite the growing consensus about the concept of fostering resilient communities, it can be tempting for local authorities and other service commissioners to sidestep the issue in practice. Perhaps they feel it asks too much from a service user, or that they do not have the right expertise to address it, or they may be unsure how to measure progress.

At the same time service commissioners at all levels are trying to find ways to have more impact whilst spending less. Work already undertaken by The Young Foundation and The London Borough of Newham has demonstrated that fostering resilient communities is both affordable and an important step in the right direction, but that it requires a deep cultural change amongst service providers to make it a reality.

So what does this agenda look like in practice for policy makers, service commissioners and frontline agencies? What are the systemic and structural changes that need to take place to foster resilience? What support and skills do professionals need to have to work together with individuals and community groups to build resilience? And what is the aspiration – what does a 21st century resilient community actually look like?

In this seminar from The Young Foundation and the London Borough of Newham, launching Newham’s latest report “Making resilience happen,” we discussed these questions and considered how local authorities and service commissioners can find meaningful ways to involve citizens in specifying, shaping and delivering services that meet their needs.

The event was chaired by Patrick Butler, Editor of Society, Health and Education Policy for The Guardian; and featured  Sir Robin Wales, Mayor of the London Borough of Newham; Dal Babu, Former Harrow Borough Commander and Chief Superintendent of the Metropolitan Police, Laura Dosanjh, Director of Applied Innovation, The Young Foundation; and Prof. Angie Hart, Professor of Child, Family and Community Health at University of Brighton.