Claudia Baldacchino on the power of working together and providing the space for this to happen
At People Know How we manage various spaces across Edinburgh and East Lothian with the aim of providing spaces in the community to gather, collaborate, share learning, exchange ideas and improve wellbeing. We do this through collaborations with other organisations, working together to support and empower communities.
When I first joined People Know How we were based in St Margaret’s House, supporting Edinburgh Palette as a key partner. The first time I visited I was struck by the broad range of organisations in the building, with charities, small businesses and artists all working alongside one another. At the time I was completing my master’s degree and decided to undertake a project in the building, speaking to a group of tenants and asking them how they have benefited from being in this vibrant community. Many revealed that they did not often get the chance to speak with their neighbours, which led me to design an event called Speed Collaborating. The idea was based on speed dating, giving all participating tenants an opportunity to meet their neighbours and open doors to new collaborations and ideas.
The impact and positive feedback I received after the event stuck with me and a few years later, when I was tasked with creating an event to launch our new strategic plan and its core values of social innovation and collaboration across the four sectors, the concept of Connect Four was born.
In 2019 People Know How launched Connect Four, an event that brought together decision makers from the academic, public, third and business sectors to drive social innovation. In doing so, we ‘connected four’. We knew that organisations across sectors would likely be tackling similar issues from different angles but like at St Margaret’s House, they may not have had the opportunity to bring their ideas together. By facilitating discussions on key social issues, we hoped that those different angles might inform one another, identifying solutions. The feedback we received was overwhelmingly positive, with many asking, “why hasn’t this been done before?" Using this momentum, we have continued to deliver events using our Connect Four ethos, including one in 2020 that led to the launch of our national campaign to end data poverty, Connectivity Now.
When the opportunity arose to collaborate with Edinburgh Palette to manage a new space in the evolving Granton Waterfront area we knew we wanted to dedicate this space to Connect Four. We have managed the building 525 Ferry Road with Edinburgh Palette since 2018, cultivating a creative and vibrant community similar to that of St Margaret’s House. Using this experience and our passion for collaboration, we created the Connect Four space.
The Connect Four space is located within 1 Waterfront Avenue and embodies the idea of ‘connecting four’. It is a space dedicated to connecting across the four sectors and working alongside one another to create an environment that is conducive to social innovation through new collaborations, opportunities and ideas that can solve social issues across Scotland.
It’s a beautiful space too, filled with light and with beautiful views of the city skyline and the Firth of Forth to boost wellbeing as well as inspire some brilliant ideas. The space is open plan, but if you need some quiet space, we also provide meeting rooms and breakout spaces, with a café on site to provide food and drink without leaving the building. Though if you do fancy a wander in the neighbourhood, you’ll find shops and a gym just next door.
We’re really excited to be able to open our doors to the public on 24 November to showcase all of this and more in the first Connect Four Open House. We’ll be on hand to answer questions and take enquiries about renting desk space. We’ll also be providing food as well as an opportunity to learn more about the concept of Connect Four from myself as communications and digital manager, our office manager Alex, and the rest of our leadership team.
Our Eventbrite is now live for you to book your free ticket. The space will be open to visitors between 10am and 3pm, with a special session about Connect Four taking place at 10:30am.
Book your free ticket: https://connect-four-open-house.eventbrite.co.uk