Our Learning Communities


What Matters to You (WM2U) is a community-based systems change initiative working alongside families, practitioners, and senior leaders in two communities in Dundee and East Ayrshire. It aims to provide early support so that children and young people can flourish within their own communities. 

This purpose has been a compelling driver for those who have been part of the Columba 1400 leadership experiences as community leaders, Changemakers or Senior Leaders.

We are in no doubt as to the passion for change and the expertise that exists to make it happen. As an approach to change that uses the voice of parents as a constant touchstone, WM2U can be adopted and adapted by a whole range of existing and new services and community activities, with the goal of making systems work better for the people they are there to serve. We also want to reach out to people who feel they already have this passion for change.



We also want to reach out to people who feel
they already have this passion for change.



Our “Grow as We Go” (GAWG) community is a way to join up those of you interested in implementing your values-in-action, alongside the WM2U Delivery Team and Learning Partners. 

We have a mutual interest in WM2U and in learning about how best to make the impact we seek over the next three years. We want to ‘Grow as We Go’ – literally to try things out, review how they are working and adapt to suit the changing situation.

As we work together in this way, we expect to develop a good understanding of local conditions, organisational and community priorities and values, what enables the changes we seek and what gets in the way.  We are confident that sharing our learning in this way, together we will be more likely to achieve real and enduring change.



WM2U focuses on shifting public resources to offer support earlier,
thereby enabling children to flourish within their own families.



Ultimately, we want to have practice-based evidence to show how to shift the conditions that keep such problems in place, based on the ups and downs of our own experience.

As a network, GAWG will be a good source of peer support and practical insights.  We know it is important to get started, see what energy it sparks and build from there, so the WM2U delivery team and learning partners will co-host the initial meetings and work with the participants to co-create the right conditions for people to take part in the way that they wish to. 

We hope it will be a lively and supportive space for people to come together ‘side-by-side’.  We are inspired by the analogy of a ‘festival’ where the responsibility of the hosts is to open the ‘field’, set up some ‘tents’ and invite people to come and to choose their own level of engagement, with occasional events or ‘campfires’ to draw a larger crowd.


WM2U Contributing to Systems Change 2023

This is a short policy-oriented briefing that highlights the potential for a ‘WM2U approach’ to contribute to the practical realisation of the goals of public service reform. It accompanies a separate Literature and Practice review and short digest which provide fuller background material.

There are many policy documents and frameworks that are relevant to the work of public services. System change and hearing from those with lived experience are often proposed, but much less often implemented. 

Putting voice or lived expertise at the centre is an important missing ingredient in the practice of public service reform and one that is clearly connected to the potential to ‘get it right’; the lived experience of services is both key to understanding the operation of the system, and the ultimate test of whether reform is being progressed.

We believe that the learning from our work can illuminate or illustrate how important policies of public service agencies and national and local government, can be put into practice. In committing to and taking the time to develop a WM2U approach we have been discovering how ‘help’ can in fact be helpful.

Practising what we all preach

This report provides an overview of the July 2023 East Ayrshire ‘Grow as We Go’ event. The report highlights the importance of opening clear and constructive dialogues between communities, the families that live within them and service providers as a tool to enact useful change and provide ‘supportive support’.

A clear takeaway from this report is that families and communities agree that the current system does not work for them. To enact positive change, members of a community must be genuinely heard and included in decisions as we work towards positive change.

What would young people like adults to know?

As facilitators, we are conscious of the value that not imposing adult views, worries or preconceptions onto children and young people brings. This report details the observations made in the 2023 “Hope-Hack” event, where young people were encouraged to share their views on how we could improve our local communities. 

The event demonstrated how engagement with young people at scale can be achieved and the benefits of a large-scale event in terms of diversity of voices and experiences. A key takeaway from the report is that young people are primed and ready to contribute to systems change.


Learning Partner Reports

WM2U Literature and Practice Review and Our Digest of Practice Lessons​​​​​​ 2022

This review and digest are designed to inform the WM2U Programme Board, the Oversight and Enabling Boards in each local authority, and other stakeholders of allied developments amongst those looking to achieve system change in policy and community contexts similar to those of WM2U.

The review provides a brief synopsis of selected initiatives or reports supplemented by several accounts of practice in order to position the work of WM2U in a broader context.

The digest distils some important lessons from the review. We expect both documents to be useful to those working on system change in policy and community contexts across the UK.

There is no script or manual for this way of working to achieve system change. Starting with asking and responding to what matters to individuals is a promising way to build relationships and gain trust and a gateway to deeper and more sustainable change.

The views of those living in poverty should be part of the development, implementation and evaluation of policies and actions, to ensure the understanding of it is reflected in all aspects of change processes.

Making change happen at scale is hard, complex, and non-linear. It can’t be ‘delivered’ but is a collaborative endeavour that crosses organisational boundaries and must be co-created and shaped locally

Your experience of WM2U

I’ve been given the opportunity through WM2U to have that voice and say ‘I think maybe something is needed in the community. This might help a lot of people.’  And they’re actually listening. They’re not dismissing it, they’re actually saying ‘aye, we kind of agree…’ That, in itself, is such a proud feeling for me.  Not just to be heard, but to be appreciated.

Change in the community is not going to happen overnight.  It’s all about gaining trust. You have to build that bond up with someone, get them to come in, have tea and chat, feel welcome, non-judgemental, informal, friendly, confidential, ‘just normal’. It takes time. We have to keep the chat going.

I want to be involved in the mental health, to give adults support with their children.  There’s not enough out there, not enough services, I had to phone the CPN because things during lockdown got very tough….I felt as if I was just brushed under the carpet.  I felt there just wasn’t enough support.  That’s what I really want to be a part of.  It’s extremely important for children and adults.