Cynefin is a programme that explores new approaches for delivery of long-term changes and improvements to the quality of life and wellbeing of communities across Wales. Engagement across all sectors, without the constraints of restrictive project indicators, allows the work to respond to the opportunities provided by the resources, infrastructure, existing activity and interests of each individual community. The programme thereby provides a bespoke, truly place-centred approach to delivery of sustainable development on the ground.
Central to the Cynefin programme are the three main outcomes: to improve and impact upon "place", "process" and "policy".
The priority of the Place Coordinator (PC) is to fully understand the resources and potential of each place, and to engage widely across the area to build consensus on a community vision. This is the essence of a "place-based" approach.
Through engagement with communities and facilitation of opportunities, Cynefin empowers each community to improve the places in which they live and work, to become involved in the decisions that affect them, and to produce real and tangible improvements to their area.
Each PC will take a different approach in response to the individual needs and wants of the community, although in general Cynefin aims to improve access to a high quality local environment, which will in turn help to improve quality of life and can deliver multiple benefits for physical, mental health, educational opportunities and community resilience. The PC gently steers the community towards more sustainable lifestyle choices that will bring about positive social, environmental and economic impacts and will improve opportunities for future generations.
By empowering local people and giving them a voice in the processes that govern their environment and the services that are delivered to them, Cynefin helps to build a sense of pride of place within communities.
The Cynefin "process" is to explore new ways of working, to test different ways of engaging with the community and stakeholders, and to explore how projects can work across different sectors by being creative, innovative and bold in building new relationships and working practices.
The PCs are required to work with a wide range of cross-sectorial stakeholders from Welsh Government policy officials to small community groups and local residents. They are then in a position to link ideas, add value to workstreams of existing organisations, build relationships, and to grasp opportunities for collaboration and innovation as they arise.
They can also, where necessary, break down the barriers that exist between communities and the services that are provided to them. The difference or "added value" of the Cynefin approach in these circumstances is that the PCs have the flexibility to invest additional time and effort in persisting to find a way around blockages. Additionally, due to their freedom to engage with a wide range of local service providers, PCs are in a position to identify overlaps and synergies between service providers, and to bring them together.
Cynefin helps to provide opportunities for communities to improve their skills and generate their own income, through offering support and guidance for social enterprise. The PCs are now increasingly giving thought to how they can support local communities to continue workstreams themselves, and to procure and deliver future work.
Interviews with local and national stakeholders indicate that differences between Cynefin and other programmes are recognised, and there is increasing evidence that these differences are enabling Cynefin to deliver additional value. These differences include: its flexibility; breadth of focus; ability to react to changing circumstances; and scope to engage at different levels. This enables Cynefin to add value to existing service provision by: working across silos; catalysing innovative approaches; creating synergies; taking advantage of emerging opportunities; and acting as a conduit between local communities and service providers.
Cynefin is known as a "change programme" because it seeks to change the way community support and resource planning is undertaken on the ground and also because the programme itself can change and adapt as it responds to "place" and policy. Cynefin is different to past models because of its ability to feed directly into the Welsh Government - influencing policy in real time.
The Cynefin programme aims to feed learning into other programmes, in order to influence their future processes and to influence the development of legislation, such as the Wellbeing of Future Generations Bill, the Environment Bill and the Public Health Bill.