Blowing your own trumpet is all very well – but it’s much nicer when others blow theirs for you. This page brings together some of the things people have said about us and our work in a variety of contexts.
Mainstreet Australia gave us this positive feedback after Julian spoke at their 2013 conference. Executive committee member Nicole Maslin said: ‘Julian was our opening keynote for our National Mainstreet Australia Conference in Melbourne May 2013. His presentation set the scene for the next three days, it was brilliant – very relevant, inspiring and stimulating. He shared his wisdom, made friends and shared our passion and enjoyment for the conference and the industry that we work in.’
Professor Colin Williams, director of Sheffield University’s Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences, asked Julian to give a public lecture in April 2013. He said: ‘Julian has a deep and detailed knowledge of urban regeneration and local economic development gained over many years. He produces exceptionally high quality work which not only challenges conventional wisdom but in a very practical and policy-relevant manner. His work is based on very innovative thinking and is highly creative but he manages to combine this with very detailed and practical policy solutions.’
Mary Portas, commissioned by the prime minister to review the state of Britain’s high streets and suggest options for the future, was impressed with our contribution to her review. In her report she says: ‘I would … like to recognise the particular efforts of Julian Dobson and his team at Urban Pollinators whose insights I have found both inspirational and invaluable.’
The quality of our research on welfare reform in 2014 was commended by Hampshire County Council, who commented: ‘Hampshire County Council now has a research paper that not only provides the contextual information required to better understand the reasons for the approach taken to deliver Local Welfare Assistance in Hampshire but also identifies good practice, challenges, opportunities and risks. The work carried out, against what was a challenging time frame, is of high quality. It strikes the right balance between addressing the project brief and achieving the aims for Hampshire County Council in commissioning this research. The paper provides a balanced and sometimes challenging account of the programme that demonstrates the integrity of the researchers in providing a truly independent, impartial and accurate piece of work.’
We had excellent feedback from the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, which we supported as a rapporteur through a year-long series of events on community asset ownership. Policy and research programme manager Josh Stott said: ‘We were very pleased with all your contributions – write-ups, blogs and coverage of the events on Twitter. These were thoughtful, creative and accurate, more than capturing the essence of the series. Also great that we could access your existing audiences. It is a pleasure for us all to have material that needs so little reviewing/ editing – if only all commissions were so straight forward! I was also delighted that you were able to present at the final event and was very grateful to you for prioritising this in tough circumstances.’
We continue to receive positive reactions to our presentations and involvement in events. John Pelan, acting director of Built Environment Forum Scotland, wrote: ‘I wanted to email you with a personal thank you for speaking at the BEFS Congress on 20 November and for your excellent contribution. Your presentation was, for many, the highlight of the day and a really uplifting and positive end to the conference.’ Sam Axtell, one of the organisers of Make:Shift in Wolverhampton, wrote: ‘I got so much from your contribution to the day. I thought you were fabulous.’ And after organising High Street Camp in May 2012 we received a welter of positive feedback, with one participant noting that he ‘had far more interesting conversations than at other conferences’.
Some comments on Julian Dobson’s writing and wider involvement in regeneration:
‘Julian is a highly creative and original thinker and writer, a prolific commentator with integrity and a strong understanding of social justice.’ – Jess Steele, director of innovation, Locality.
‘An excellent communicator, facilitator and people person. Understands the context and his thoughtful analysis and practical focus make Julian an ideal guide and enabler to support social action and regeneration processes. Consistently top notch performer!’ – Toby Blume, chief executive, Urban Forum
‘Behind the scenes of urban renewal in the UK, Julian is a major player, innovating social action, ideas around placemaking and bringing people together to make change in new, profitable, human ways. Julian is one of those rare personalities who understand intuitively how to mobilise people and communities for the common good.’ – David Barrie, consultant, Creative Cities programme, British Council.
‘Julian is one of the most reflective and forward thinking practitioners working in the urban regeneration and placemaking arena. He is always open to the art of the possible and is able to provide a positive challenge to the status quo. His writing and work on this subject is amongst the most insightful in the UK.’ – Stuart Smith, chief executive, Wood Holmes.
Here are some comments on Julian’s work as a trainer and facilitator:
‘I have worked with Julian over several years in delivering training courses for regeneration professionals in Leeds and Bradford. Julian uses his expertise to provide first rate training and development programmes for people interested in regeneration. His specific qualities include an effective organisational capability and a straightforward, easy to understand manner in communicating complex issues.’ – Colin Mawhinney, head of economic policy and programmes, Leeds City Council.
‘I have worked with Julian over the past couple of years developing the Bradford Regeneration Academy. He is passionate about creating great places and engenders the same passion in those attending his workshops. Julian is not about chalk and talk but rather about provoking thought and unleashing creativity. Julian gets people out of the classroom, into places and helps them step into the shoes of the users, challenging misconceptions and helping attendees develop new ideas about how they can contribute and work with others to create great places.’ – Colin Bell, managing director, Winning Moves Ltd.
‘Julian has always been a robust champion of good practice in placeshaping and placemaking, through excellent training programmes for local authority members and officers, and the Community Land Trust annual conference series.’ – Stephen Hill, director, Futureplanners.
‘Julian combines several key attributes – a highly developed media personality and communicator, a trainer in effective writing and communication, and expertise in local economic development and regeneration issues. Over the years I have known and worked with Julian, his work has always been of the highest calibre. He is also very personable to deal with and remains very proactive and constructive in his approach. He is always willing to delve into difficult issues head on and pull out many practical examples to illustrate a point.’ – Glenn Athey, former director of research and intelligence, East of England Development Agency.
Clients are very happy with our research and policy analysis too:
Groundwork UK commissioned us to research trends and influences in local government service commissioning. Director of development Graham Duxbury said: ‘We were really pleased with the end result given the challenge of a broad brief and the fluidity of the policy landscape.’
Meanwhile Mark Mitchell, chair of the Bill Sargent Trust, which commissioned our report Forces for Good, commented: ‘I’ve been very impressed with Julian’s work, both his ability to gather evidence and produce good quality reports and his more general political skills in disseminating the results.’
Other clients are similarly pleased:
‘Julian gets to the heart of the issue, removing the padding to point out the key points, why something is important and then, why is it something that “you” should be interested in. His contacts mean that issues get broadcast widely, ensuring good results in terms of dissemination.’ – Paul Nolan, chief executive, The Mersey Forest.
‘The evaluation [of our work in Wigan] is a very useful tool which we are all positive about. The trustees were pleased with it and it has informed and immediately impacted on the way we function.’ – Stephen Kearney, chief executive, Re:generate.