It’s been a busy month, which is why you may have noticed our blogging has been a little quieter than usual! We’re delighted to be able to share with you our journey of the past few weeks.
What’s happened this month?
Not quite this month, we attended the NESTA residential in Birmingham.
This presented a fantastic opportunity for us to stop, remove ourselves from the project and reflect on our decisions, with the benefit of having the views from other participants attending the event.
We found this experience to be valuable in informing future decisions around sustainability and in future development and in continuous improvement of our processes.
We feel that it is vitally important to not only support participation in the community but to celebrate it wherever possible. For just this reason, we held a Stand Out in Darwen – Celebration/Update in connection with CSV Make a Difference day; celebrating volunteering within the community and Lavender Time Bank.
Many of our projects attended, setting up “stalls” during part of the day where participants had the opportunity to find out exactly how their fellow pioneers projects had developed since the first Turning Ideas into Action days. At the end of the event the projects received certificates from the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen recognizing their achievements to date.
Partnership working – Stand Out in Darwen Together
Early in November we hosted the launch of our “Stand Out in Darwen Together” brand. This is a development of the STOID concept that we hadn’t originally planned but feel is essential for the continued use of asset based work within the community in a sustainable and integrated method.
Over 63 people turned up to the event representing a number of local authority staff, statutory organisations and SME’s within the community, all interested in adopting a common way of working and supporting community action.
This has further developed to include future training events for local authority, borough and NHS senior staff.
Aldridge Community Competition
During Global Entrepreneurship Week the Aldridge Foundation set students at each of its academies the challenge of identifying challenges within school or the community and to use their creativity and problem solving skills to propose solutions. On the 16th November year 7 and 8 students at DACA spent a whole day developing a range of fantastic ideas building on existing assets and competing for the opportunity to go to London and compete against other schools. During the day all students were made aware of the up and coming Turning Ideas into Action Day where they would have the potential to receive support and funding to turn their idea into a reality.
Turning Ideas into Action 2
This week we hosted the follow up event to our hugely successful Turning Ideas into Action event which happened in June. Its predecessor, Turning Ideas into Action 2 was just as successful if not more so!
After four weeks of promotion through established networks, previous projects and the living room tour over 26 projects have been identified for support across the town with roughly half of the projects represented by new volunteer action.
Building on our new found knowledge of ABCD the event focused much more on the development of community assets and following feedback from the first event the day was streamlined, removing 2 hours from the process. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive and echoed the great “vibe” throughout the event.
What have you learnt this month?
As always we learn so much from our projects and this month has been no different. Here are just a few of the things we’ve picked up this month:
One particular project we’ve supported since TIITA 1 has been involved in planning and delivering a community clean up within one ward in Darwen. The local council and housing associations have attempted to arrange them in the past but historically no more than a handful of residents and paid staff attend. However, when a local resident took on the task she managed to rally support from over 100 local residents filling up more than 4 industrial skips in less than 1 hour! This is just one of many examples demonstrating that in some areas citizens are best placed to organise community action. Lesson 1: Return power to the people
Revisiting the Skate Park we’ve found that if asked, many local organisations, groups and individuals are happy to rally together for a cause and will even contribute for no expense at all! Already the young members have support from the local council, fire service, residents groups, schools and other members of the community trying to help. Lesson 2: Communities exist, they just need an excuse.
This month we’ve been particularly surprised at the interest generated in our approach to community development (Cormac, ABCD organisations, Council, NHS…..)
– Agencies, businesses and services are keen to adopt this approach, some feel they are already doing it but doing it together is the key.
What’s been challenging this month?
Our on-going investigation into the installation of a town centre screen hasn’t been easy. We’ve hit a number of barriers already that seem to be based more around individual opinions than policy or law. We’re continuing to arrange meetings with interested parties and are determined to exhaust all possible avenues but understand that this may be a longer journey than we had initially planned.
Our second challenge isn’t so much of a challenge as a frustration and this is simply the amount of admin work that holds us up from supporting projects. It’s important simply to keep the project sustainable but it’s interesting to note how much paperwork is actually needed against that which we just think we need to do.
What are you proud of this month?
Stand Out in Darwen Together
We’re already underway meeting organisations throughout the town, eager to work in an asset based approach and we couldn’t be happier about the feedback we’re getting already.
Progress with the projects
The projects that have come forward have been fantastic and have made some great progress and we’re keen to post more blog specials about these as we get more information. We’re already celebrating over 2000 volunteer hours in the community
Turning Ideas into Action
Having now completed our second which has been as, if not more successful than the first is something we are indeed very proud of.
Stories for Cormac and Jim
Having met with them during the Stand Out in Darwen Together day and the ABCD training in November Cormac and Jim have expressed an interest in sharing the STOID story in their travels as a good example of ABCD in action.
Over the last few weeks we’ve attracted the attention of the Cabinet Office and Local MP’s interested in replicating our success in other places. We’re very proud of our work and interested to see how we make a wider difference with the lessons we’ve learned.