Here is how I am trying to kick-start another of the things we have identified as working priorities for the first half of 2014:
“The Yarborough Network 2014”
- a private initiative to try to
build community communication and capacity
There is a whole range of voluntary community commitment in the Yarborough Ward. Examples include individual care of neighbours, the Littlecoates Community Centre, groups using St Michael’s Church building, Neighbourhood Watches, and uniformed organisations for young people. There will be many others as well.
But there is nothing like the range of shared awareness and planning which exists in the neighbouring Wards. For example, the Freshney Ward has things like the Bishop King Centre, an active Community Church, a monthly ‘Freshney Forward’ coordinating meeting, Residents’ Associations serving two different parts of the Ward, and a Village Council for one part of the Ward.
This may be why, when the opportunity to create a Community First plan and funding group arose in both Wards, the Freshney one has turned out to be widely representative and able to provoke and deal with a range of projects while the Yarborough one has even most recently found it difficult to get members to respond e-mail consultations.
So a couple of residents of the Ward want to commit themselves through 2014 to doing some things which might change the environment. We want to discover the whole range of what is going on and to get those involved to share this widely. We want to see whether others can be drawn into active engagement.
One of us is Sylvia Leary who lives on Laceby Acres and happens to work for the Care Plus Group; she has recently taken part in a ‘Releasing Community Capacity’ training course and may have a route to some local funding as a result. The other is Peter Mullins who lives on Littlecoates Road and happens to be the Rector of the Church of England parish which covers most of the Ward; he has been involved in a number of community projects in the Ward over the last fifteen years.
They would welcome anyone who lives in the Ward and who would like to work with them as a sort of ‘ginger group’ for this one year. They do not want to create a new structure or committee, nor do they want to spend their time doing things which are unproductive or which fight any existing structures, but they hope a few bits of publicity, the odd bit of provocation and support, and a well planned gathering or two might be the way to make a difference.
They are going to renew a request to the Community First panel for the funding for a good quality one off brochure to be distributed across the whole Ward (working with CPO Media which used to produce the ‘Toothill and Roundabout’ community publication). They are going to renew a request to Voluntary Action in North East Lincolnshire to have access help develop the website at yarborough.inandaround.org.uk. They hope that simply contacting and engaging as many individuals and groups as possible in these two projects will help local people identify together which bits of work might then make a difference.
It is clear that things like continued cuts and benefit changes mean that the time for revealing and building a stronger local community infrastructure is crucial. A piece of work done around the former Area Action Group (then part of North East Lincolnshire’s Neighbourhood Development strategy) revealed that grass-roots groups are better at identifying immediately visible issues (the phrase ‘crime and grime’ was used, but problems with traffic would be another obvious example) than the hidden issues which are particularly pressing in their area (examples elsewhere have been abuse, debt, isolated elderly and teenage pregnancy), so one piece of work would also be finding out what is already known about these and sharing this with existing and potential community groups.