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Welcome to the ‘we’ generation

8 May 2012

It’s often suggested that we live in more selfish, individualistic times than ever before. Yet look around.  I see more examples of people coming together to fight a cause than ever took place in a so-called gilded age of community ‘when we were young’. Technology may well be the enabler, but people with common purpose are the driving force that is changing and challenging our great institutions from politics to health and media to finance. Co-operate to compete. Welcome to the ‘we’ generation.

At Forster, collaboration is one of our core values – it’s fundamental to how we think and work. It’s how we view our client relationships. We’re great connectors and networkers – a bit like a dating agency in that respect! We love working in partnership. We like making the connections. It’s much better together. We know it works.

We’ve all become very familiar with the power of collective voice. Politicians used to engaging with the public every five years now have to sit up and listen every five minutes. From Give More to 38 Degrees and WAGGGS to WSPA, Forster has been helping organisations plan and execute their communication strategies to truly engage and make the most of target audiences.

Forster often works directly with the public, in connection with our clients. With our new client, the Canal and River Trust, we’re running a London Towpaths campaign to encourage cyclists to be more thoughtful/respectful of other canal path users. It’s all about encouraging respect and shared use. For the London Cycling Campaign, we’ve promoted ‘Go Dutch’ –  again focusing on shared space. The idea is that all road users have equal priority. The goal is not just the improvement of road safety, but greater thoughtfulness, inclusivity.

We constantly seek out collaboration with organisations like Media Trust, with whom we launched Newsnet – an online community where citizen journalists and community reporters can learn, share and network.

The greatest changes are coming through such partnership working. Forster worked with the DCLG to help 15 neighbourhood partnerships develop and deliver plans for behaviour change campaigns to encourage teenagers to raise their aspirations and reach their potential. We facilitated community panels to test some research findings. All 15 neighbourhood partnerships received funding for their campaigns, and most believed their activities positively influenced young people. Our ‘Inspiring Communities, Changing Behaviour’ toolkit now helps DCLG support other communities in similar outreach programmes.

People can and must work together like this to find and form new ways of living with the realities of today. We are here to experiment, explore, create and deliver on expectations to make greater collaboration a reality for organisations who want to see positive social change.

That’s the one truly great thing about tough times – people coming together for common good. That makes me more optimistic than ever.

@petergilheany