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Social enterprise group takes on third cohort

Words: Laura Edgar
Third Public Practice cohort / Ivan Jones

Public Practice has announced that 30 associates will take up placements at 20 public authorities this month.

All of the placements in the third cohort are new roles to enable public organisations to build their in-house capacity.

Public Practice is a social enterprise scheme set up to provide more resources for councils. It uses a “rigorous” recruitment process to select built environment experts – known as associates – for year-long placements within public sector organisations. Associates dedicate 10 per cent of their time to a research and development programme run by Public Practice to share new knowledge and practice across the sector.

Since it launched two years ago, it has made a total of 84 placements across the 36 public authorities in London and the wider South East, including this third cohort. Twenty authorities have returned to Public Practice to take on more associates after hosting placements from the first or second cohort.

Several employers have joined the scheme including the city councils of Brighton & Hove and Oxford. Great Ormond Street Hospital is also hosting a placement to engage patients, families, staff, neighbours and the London Borough of Camden in co-designing the public realm surrounding the hospital’s planned Children’s Cancer Centre.

Public Practice said a third of applicants to the new cohort were over the age of 40, while 92 per cent applied from outside the public sector. They are the most “diverse and experienced” cohort.

Finn Williams, CEO and co-founder of Public Practice, said: “When we launched Public Practice two years ago, there was some scepticism that we would be able to attract new practitioners into local government. Since then, we have received over 660 applications, most of whom have never applied to the public sector before. The strength, depth and diversity of this third cohort is further evidence that perceptions of public planning are changing.

"We’re in awe of the public purpose and ambition of the authorities creating these new roles. It’s time to give greater recognition to the vital, often innovative work being done by local government all over the country.”

Last night (7 October) Jules Pipe, deputy mayor of London for planning, regeneration and skills and chair of Public Practice, opened the Public Practice Autumn Forum event, which recognises the role councils are playing in tackling the climate crisis and launched the mayor’s Design for a Circular Economy primer.

City Hall is working to embed circular economy principles into the draft London Plan, and has called on the built environment sector to adopt this approach in its everyday practice.

He said: “Public Practice is doing vital work in developing new ways to tackle some of the big challenges facing local government, including important action on the climate crisis.

“In London we’re leading the way in investing in green infrastructure, decarbonising our buildings and transport, and delivering jobs in the low-carbon sector. The mayor’s new guidance will help the built environment sector reduce its climate impact by designing out waste and reducing the call on natural resources – and I warmly welcome the new associates who will help drive this vital work forward.”

Public Practice runs year-long placement programmes starting every six months and recruitment for the cohort starting in April 2020 has begun. More information can be found on the Public Practice website. The deadline for applications is 25 November 2019.

Image credit | Ivan Jones