The Better Way Network

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The Better Way Network is a network of leaders who want to improve services and build strong communities. Here, Laura Seebohm, the Better Way convenor in the North, explores the work they do.
18 Feb, 2021

Power to Change is supporting the Better Way network to bring together people across different sectors, including community businesses, to improve services, build communities and create a fairer society.

Here, Laura Seebohm, the Better Way Convenor in the North, writes here about a Better Way and the opportunities for you and other community businesses to take part.

The Better Way Network is a collection of leaders who are committed to changing the way things work for people across society for the better.  We are not about leadership in the hierarchical sense.  We come together within and across sectors, learn from each other, share common experiences and identify better ways to do things – listening, sharing our power and building new connections.

‘An opportunity to get under the skin of so many of the more difficult issues with a group of amazing diverse and talented people’

Member of Better Way Network

The network gives us the rare opportunity to explore how things can improve in diverse groupings of people – grassroots activists, community businesses, people from public sector, private sector, politicians … the list could go on.   We are about people; we come together as individuals rather than representing our organisations.

Over the past few months we have seen a great increase in new members – the appetite for change is palpable and people have connected in ways we did not expect.  People find Better Way useful because it influences what we all do in our practice, but also because we recognise the power to collectively influence.

During 2020 we have seen certain key ideas shine through, themes which seem to emerge and re-emerge in every conversation.  These are really about four fundamental things which identify what the change is we want to see and how we do it – putting relationships first, sharing power, joining forces and listening better.  We have brought this together in a model for a Better Way, as shown here and explored in our new publication Time for a Change

Being part of these conversations over the past few months in my role as Better Way Convenor for the North has been inspiring to say the least, as one member described it, ‘music for the heart, brain and soul’.  Whilst we all recognise the desperate inequalities and injustices and need for change, there is also a deep sense of hope which comes with the network – the value of connectivity is so important in itself especially when relationships have been designed out of so many of our systems and services.

These discussions have involved a number of community businesses which have informed our thinking in the network (Ollie Batchelor’s Insights for a Better Way essay about the Bensham Food Co-Op in Gateshead is a great example).  I am really delighted that over the coming year our work is supported by Power to Change to ensure that we are sustaining a strong voice of community businesses particularly across the North and Midlands as we understand the impact (or not) of a ‘levelling up’ agenda.

Better Way discussions take place in a mix of one off roundtables and ongoing discussions, some of them based around places, some of them national.  We also have ‘drop-in’ sessions where there is a chance to explore whatever members are interested in and what might be useful.  For now they are all online meetings we’d love you to join (see events page).

This week we have launched a report based on the culmination of our conversations during 2020 called ‘Time for a Change’  Our rallying call is aimed at anyone who may find inspiration in the model above.  We would love you to join and bring your experience as community businesses to shape future conversations with the Better Way Network.  If you’d like to join us, it’s totally free and we are particularly keen to encourage and welcome ever more diverse voices.  We welcome your ideas, learning and connection.