Barking & Dagenham LBC
Genuine Community Conversations
Barking & Dagenham is among the UK’s most deprived places but is less than 20 minutes from the thriving City of London. It is undergoing rapid change, with the white British proportion of the population having fallen from 90% to less than 50% since 2001, and it has space for 60,000 new homes as London’s economic growth moves eastwards. To respond, the council has overhauled its community engagement with surveys, significant investment in social media and an online community TV channel. More than 6,000 residents have told the council their views, an increase in engagement from 0.1% of the population in 2014 to 2.9% in 2016-17.
Dearne Valley Landscape Partnership
This partnership is managed by Barnsley for Doncaster and Rotherham MBCs and other agencies. It focuses on working with local communities to protect, preserve and enhance the heritage and environment of the Dearne Valley. At its heart is an action plan developed through 18 months of community engagement involving restoration, survey, land management, arts and archaeology projects, all offered free to local residents and so supporting the councils’ policy objectives of helping people to be healthier, happier, independent and active. Some 1,882 adults and 902 young people are benefitting from the programmes, and 3ha of new woodland have been planted.
Creating Cleaner Greener Communities
The Pride in your Place awards recognise the commitment of residents who have helped to make their communities more liveable and reward exemplar projects. Examples are Big Buzz, where community groups have developed 12 beehives that are now providing honey for sale and encouraging children to learn about wildlife and its link to food production. Healthy Active Lifestyles uses allotments to encourage activity and healthy eating while Clean Up Groups look after countryside off the beaten track but frequented by visitors. Achievements include more than 400 tonnes of waste cleared from ‘grot spots’,10,000 spring bulbs planted and 10 acres recovered for amenity use.
Jaywick Lung Cancer Campaign
Masked perhaps by its seaside location, Jaywick is the UK’s most deprived area and in 2016 Cancer UK found a considerably higher rate of suspected lung cancer than for England as a whole. Doctors asked Essex CC to help and a ‘know the signs’ campaign was devised using community engagement and involvement. Surveys established residents’ knowledge of the condition and the campaign began with a community event followed by Facebook advertising and local cancer survivors telling their stories through video, social media and the local press. As a result, 30 residents visited their GP with symptoms of lung cancer, almost six times the target.
Great Yarmouth BC
Neighbourhoods That Work
The Neighbourhoods That Work Project is a pioneering way to work with communities, backed by £3.1m from the Big Lottery Fund. It is deliberately different to the usual short-term ‘here’s an issue, let’s commission a solution’ project, and recognises that a long-term integrated approach is needed which involves the community, leads to more sustainable solutions and prevents issues from arising in the first place. This project has enabled frontline staff to reach residents who are traditionally harder to engage with, for example, housing officers signpost residents in need to support but also visit weekly to gain greater insight into local priorities.
Asset-Based Community Development
Northumberland’s public health department decided in 2015 to try something new with the concept of asset-based community development - identifying the community’s assets and resources and using those to create health and wellbeing rather than focusing on preventing the causes of ill health. Working with three NHS trusts in the rural north of the county it developed micro-grants to enable groups and individuals to set up projects. Nearly 75 were funded in its first year and more than 1,000 people have been involved, with 27% of projects linked to being active, 39% to learning and 98% were linked to promoting social and emotional wellbeing.
If You Eat, You’re In
The Oldham Food Network has grown from a group of volunteers into an active movement, driving a co-operative approach to food. It supports projects such as Veg in the Park, where sections of parks are used by residents to grow food. The network raised more than £20,000 in two months in a crowdfunding campaign for a community kitchen for Oldham Food Bank. A Get Oldham Growing campaign encourages people to cultivate food while the council’s Green Dividend Fund puts residents at the heart of design, delivery and maintenance of community gardens and edible landscaping projects. So far, more than 500 households and 1,500 residents have been involved.
Dementia Action Alliance
East Sussex has the highest concentration of dementia patients in the UK and there are 1,666 in Wealden alone, with many more undiagnosed. The Alzheimer’s Society found that 67% of dementia patients think their life would be better with positive community support, and in response the Wealden Dementia Action Alliance was launched in May 2016. It involves 80 organisations including the council, leisure centres, doctors, local businesses and carers and seeks to increase knowledge of this misunderstood condition. There are now 26 dementia champions and there has been a 25% reduction in acute medical admissions and A&E contacts, and a 20% reduction in GP consultations.
West Sussex CC
Operation Watershed was launched after damaging floods in 2012-13 to support community groups to reduce risks locally, such as issues with drainage infrastructure, damage to roads and resilience to protect homes and businesses. Since its inception, the council has successfully supported local communities by funding about 360 projects worth more than £3m and has worked with nearly 150 groups. The fund continues in 2017-18 with £500,000 available. Communities are also able to access technical support to develop their solutions. Underpinning Operation Watershed is a recognition that community groups are best placed to identify local need and know how smaller, yet pivotal, issues could be resolved.
Kirsty Cole, deputy chief executive, Newark & Sherwood DC
Diana Terris, chief executive, Barnsley MBC
Robin Tuddenham, chief executive, Calderdale MBC