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GUIDE HIGHLIGHTS COMMUNITY ROLE IN REGENERATION

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Local communities have an important role to play in contributing to the success of regeneration programmes regenera...
Local communities have an important role to play in contributing to the success of regeneration programmes regeneration minister Richard Caborn said today.

He was welcoming a revised guide 'Involving Communities in Urban and Rural Regeneration: A Guide for Practitioners' published today.

The Guide gives practical advice to local authorities, TECs, and other bodies who take the lead in developing regeneration partnerships.

Mr Caborn said:

'The government places great importance on the real involvement of local communities in the whole range of regeneration activities.

'It is important to the success of regeneration programmes to involve as many people in the community as possible. This can lead to better decision making, enhanced programme delivery and improved sustainability.

'Every community contains young people and faith communities; and in the majority of urban areas targeted for regeneration there are sizable ethnic minority communities. Even where the ethnic minority population in a particular area is small, it is important to identify the needs of those particular communities.'

The guide was produced by independent consultants PIEDA and is based on extensive research among bodies involved in regeneration

partnerships, national voluntary and community organisations and local residents already involved in regeneration schemes.

The new edition of the Guide (first published in November 1995) has been fully updated, and now contains specific advice on involving ethnic minorities, faith communities and young people in regeneration

programmes.

NOTES

The report, Involving Communities in Urban and Rural Regeneration: A Guide for Practitioners (ISBN 1 85112 048 3), is available priced£10 from the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions Publications Sales Centre, Unit 8, Goldthorpe Industrial Estate, Rotherham S63 9BL Tel. 01709 891318 Fax. 01709 881673. Cheques should be made payable to the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions.

A summary of the report follows.

INVOLVING COMMUNITIES IN URBAN AND RURAL REGENERATION

The government places great importance on involving local people in regeneration activities. The department of the environment, transport and the regions has recently published a second edition of the guidance 'Involving Communities in Urban and Rural Regeneration'.

This summary highlights some of the general principles of community involvement, and some of the new advice contained in the guide on

involving ethnic minorities, faith communities and young people in regeneration programmes.

The Importance of Community Involvement

Community involvement enhances the effectiveness of regeneration programmes by:

-- encouraging better decision making

-- fostering more effective programme delivery

-- helping to ensure that the benefits of regeneration programmes are sustained over the long term.

It is important to the success of regeneration programmes to involve as many people in the community as possible, in order to establish priorities for action and effective solutions to problems. No-one should be excluded from discussions concerning regeneration except by their own choice. If community involvement is to be taken seriously, it must mean seeking to take account of the views of all members of the community.

This means giving serious consideration in every area to the involvement of ethnic minority communities, faith communities and young people, as well as the geographically defined communities. Every community will contain young people, and faith communities; and in the majority of urban areas targeted for regeneration there are sizeable ethnic minority communities. Even where ethnic minority populations in a particular area are small, it is important to identify the needs of those particular communities.

Many of the general principles that underpin community involvement apply equally to the involvement of ethnic minority communities,

faith communities and young people. But different approaches are often required to draw out the views of different sections of the community. These general principles and the specific issues that need to be addressed in relation to involving ethnic minorities, faith

communities and young people, are highlighted overleaf.

Key Issues in Developing a Strategy for Community Involvement

Step 1: Be clear about what the partnership hopes to achieve by involving the community. What is it that the partnership is trying to achieve by involving particular ethnic groups or faith communities, or young people?

Step 2: Map out the existing networks of ethnic minority, faith or young people's organisations, and identify the different interests within each of these communities. What form of involvement are they likely to want?

Step 3: Enlist Community Support. Discuss and agree with key people and organisations in the communities being targeted how best to involve people from those communities.

Step 4: What role will you play in the process of regeneration? Be aware that you may not be seen as impartial. Think about working alongside community leaders or someone who is already in touch with the communities you are seeking to involve.

Step 5: Determine the appropriate level of involvement (in the light of the above), in terms of what is acceptable to the partnership as a whole, and what is expected by the particular community interests that the partnership is seeking to involve.

Step 6: Enlist Internal Support. Wholehearted support is required from all partner organisations if community involvement is to be effective. Be aware that if you consult people about regeneration programmes, they may ask questions about how your organisation delivers mainstream services.

Step 7: Identify the structures and processes of community involvement that are appropriate in the light of your objectives and initial feedback, and think through how different methods complement each other.

Step 8: Identify the particular techniques that are appropriate to achieve the objectives you have set, and who will be responsible for putting them into effect. Be alert to the particular religious and cultural issues that affect involvement of ethnic minorities, faith communities, and young people.

Step 9: Prepare the partnership's strategy and action plan for involving the relevant community interests and secure both internal and external agreement to pursue that strategy.

Developed from: A Guide to Effective Participation/Wilcox

(Partnership, 1995) Ethnic Minorities - Young People - Faith Communities

Involving Ethnic Minorities

Regeneration partnerships should seek to actively engage ethnic minority communities in regeneration programmes. Ethnic minority

groups are an important part of many local communities. Moreover, regeneration programmes such as the SRB Challenge Fund are often

intended to support schemes to benefit ethnic minorities. It is particularly important to secure the active involvement of ethnic minority groups where projects are designed to assist these groups.

Key points:

-- Partnerships should not assume that separate mechanisms are necessary to consult with ethnic minority groups. Rather partnerships should discuss with these groups how best to secure their active involvement.

-- When embarking on a regeneration scheme it is important to map out what ethnic groups live in the area covered by the regeneration programmes.

-- Networking techniques are useful to build up a list of ethnic minority contacts in an area. This can then be used to prepare a profile of different ethnic minority organisations to identify who they represent and the area they serve.

-- Success in involving ethnic minority groups will often depend on how they are approached and by whom. Those seeking to involve others should be sensitive to cultural traditions, open and approachable.

-- It is important to be aware of the cultural traditions of various ethnic minority groups particularly when organising consultation events, group discussions or survey work.

-- The establishment of fora where ethnic minority groups can discuss issues of common concern represents one way of ensuring ongoing involvement of ethnic minority groups in the regeneration programme. Often, however, it may be more appropriate to ensure that ethnic minority groups are well represented in Community Forums or Topic Groups that represent the community as a whole.

-- Consideration also needs to be given to how best to keep ethnic minority groups informed of the work being undertaken by

regeneration partnerships.

-- Whenever seeking to involve ethnic minority groups, the people best able to advise on what is appropriate and what works well, is the community itself.

-- It is particularly important, where regeneration programmes are intended to address the needs of ethnic minority groups, or the regeneration area has a substantial ethnic minority population, that the partnership Board reflects the make up of the communities being served.

Involving Faith Communities

Faith communities can make a significant contribution to regeneration. Compared to other community organisations they may be better resourced, have a broad base of membership and a wide range of contacts within the community. Faith communities can help partnerships understand the needs and concerns of people living in particular areas or of groups of people with particular needs; and will often be interested in sponsoring projects to meet local needs.

Partnerships should recognise that there is often considerable overlap between particular faith communities and particular ethnic minority groups. Many of the points identified as relating to ethnic minority groups may therefore apply to the involvement of particular faith groups. Equally, the following key points concerning the involvement of faith communities often apply to involving particular ethnic minority groups:

Before engaging in discussions with representatives of faith groups, it is advisable to find out about their beliefs.

However, don't let lack of knowledge stop you from talking to people. An open, positive approach to people will produce a positive response.

Consideration should be given as to whether to involve faith communities in mainstream community-wide consultations or to set up separate mechanisms for consultations. Seek the guidance of those you are seeking to involve on which is their preferred approach.

In organising meetings and events, be aware of matters such as the regular days and times of worship of different faith groups. Be sensitive in the choice of venue, and the type of food provided.

There may be merit in establishing particular structures, such as a multi-faith forum through which faith communities can express their views. Check first with the Inter-Faith Network for the UK, to see if there are any existing initiatives in your area.

Think carefully how the appointment to partnership boards of representatives of any one faith will be perceived by people of other faiths or from different traditions of the same faith.

Ensure that there are effective mechanisms in place to allow ongoing consultation with all groups.

Involving Young People

In every area there are significant numbers of young people, and they can contribute much to the success of regeneration initiatives. Their imagination and creativity can be harnessed to produce exciting new approaches to dealing with old problems. Moreover, young people are a resource for tomorrow. The community leaders of the future are young people now. Bringing young people into the decision making process can be regarded as a long term approach to community development and capacity building.

Frequently, young people have distinct needs, and experience different problems to other sections of society. Young people are often a focus of some elements of regeneration programmes. Involving them in project design and management can help to ensure that services for young people are appropriately targeted, and are fully taken up. Young people are also likely to have a different perception of living in an area than older people. Failure to take account of young people's views may mean missed opportunities. It may also undermine the sustainability of the benefits secured by regeneration programmes.

However, involving young people in regeneration programmes is not straightforward. They are unlikely to participate in mainstream events set up to involve the community. A rather different approach is required to ensure their involvement.

Key points:

-- Particular skills are required to encourage young people to take part in regeneration programmes. Those working with young people need to have an empathy with them, and a willingness to meet with them on their own ground.

-- Young people can be involved through schools and colleges but involvement outside of these establishments will often work

best. This will involve working through established youth groups, alongside youth and community workers and youth leaders.

Investigating the views of young people through traditional survey techniques is often difficult. Informal techniques, such as simply talking to young people wherever they congregate - clubs, pubs, youth centres or even street corners, will often yield valuable information on what they really think.

Involving young people themselves in undertaking research has often proved an effective way of seeking out views, while building the confidence of those involved.

It is particularly important to involve young people in the design and management of projects targeted at them. Youth Forums may be useful mechanisms to ensure that young people have an ongoing input to regeneration programmes.

Music, sporting or cultural events may be useful for engaging young people in regeneration programmes.

Young people can make a real contribution to partnership Boards, but other partners should not have unrealistic expectations of young people. In common with other community representatives, young people need support and training to perform their role effectively.

Where to get the full report

The full report is called Involving Communities in Urban and Rural Regeneration: A Guide for Practitioners' Second Edition (ISBN

1851120483) and is published by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions. Copies can be obtained priced£10 from the Publications Sales Centre, Unit 8, Goldthorpe Industrial Estate,

Rotherham, S63 9BL. Telephone: 01709 891318, Fax: 01709 881673.

The Guide was commissioned by the department of the environment, transport and the regions and produced by independent consultants Pieda. It is based on an extensive series of discussions with bodies running regeneration partnerships, national voluntary and community organisations and many residents already involved in regeneration partnerships, as well as on specialised literature about community involvement. It contains lists of further reading (including guides produced specifically about the Single Regeneration Budget by voluntary organisations), directories of enabling and training

organisations, and guidance on funding for community involvement.

A list of partnerships in each Government Office Region which have

experience of involving ethnic minorities, faith communities and young people in regeneration projects is also included.

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