Community Organising and
Community Development- ground
level reflections
Marion Rayner
Community Development Manager
Rural...
Community First is…
… the Rural Community
Council (RCC) for Wiltshire
and Swindon

www.communityfirst.org.uk
A rural county
Market towns
257 parishes
Salisbury Plain
Community areas=
market town +
parishes
Our CO project
• Motivation- a different approach
• Hosting 3 Trainee COs - 1 F/T, 2 P/T
• Recruited April 13
• 2 based in...
Practical issues
• Choice of area
• Recruit ‘out of area’
• New neighbourhoods
• Practical concerns- safety, getting aroun...
CD & CO approaches
Some similarities with CD approach:
•Community empowerment values
•Capacity building support
Difference...
Strengths of CO approach
• Reach people that traditional methods miss
• Builds resource of community concerns, ideas and
a...
Challenges
• Not invited in
• Door knocking- safety issues
• Emerging priorities differ from ‘official’ ones
• Operating a...
Opportunities
• Engage with ‘hidden voices’
• Role in supporting community rights
• Citizen involvement and volunteering
•...
Community Organiser
perspective…

Alex North
Trainee Community Organiser
for Roundway, Devizes
Sustainability?
• Employment start up grant £15K, match required
• Several scenarios:
1.Continue in existing areas
2.Expan...
Any questions?
www.communityfirst.org.uk
mrayner@communityfirst.org.uk
Further information
For further information about the work of the
Community Organisers programme nationally
www.cocollabor...
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Community Organising and Community Development - ground level reflections (Marion Rayner, Community First, Community Development Manager)

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Community Organising and Community Development - ground level reflections (Marion Rayner, Community First, Community Development Manager)

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  • First of all a bit of background…
    Community First- the Rural Community Council for Wiltshire and Swindon so we are a registered charity – quite a large organisation of about 65 staff working on range of community development projects- community transport, rural enterprise, village hall advice, Local Councils support, LINK schemes, youth projects, oil buying scheme and insurance, Leader programme, grants – Landfill Communities Fund, plus the work of my team- the CD team that has focussed on community led planning.
  • Wiltshire is a rural county dominated by Salisbury Plain and the military in the central area but with many market towns with hinterlands of parishes – these form the basis for these community areas shown on the map here.
    Many of these market towns especially in the west and north have experienced rapid housing growth on their fringes.
  • Our motivation for joining Locality’s CO programme stems from working with some of the parishes on the fringes of market towns and seeing that the new neighbourhoods created by new housing development generally lack a sense of community identity – few community networks and groups, few activities and assets- and residents who may not know that they live in a the rural parish rather than the market town nearby.
    This creates some difficulties for PCs to engage residents in dialogue about provision of future services from the precept a also this creates difficulties for the market town!
    So we felt the CO approach might have something to offer these new communities to help generate a sense of community identity and kickstart some badly needed community activities as CO represents a different CD approach- working with individuals on their doorsteps, engaging with them about their priorities and supporting them to join with others to take positive action.
    So in April we recruited 3 Trainee COs - 1 FT, 2 PT.
    Based in parishes of Roundway and Bishops Cannings- 2 parishes on the outskirts of Devizes- both with new neighbourhoods that access services in Devizes but one is very rural with a large area of dispersed population as well as village core.
    Our role- hosts, support+ provide office base
    Our COs have exceeded all our expectations- we have 3 exceptional people who bring different but complementary skills and experience to our CO project.
    Although it is early days for the project, in the rest of this presentation I want to give you some of our reflections about community organising… but these are very much our own views based on our experiences and do not represent the views of the Locality CO programme
  • Firstly there have been a number of practical aspects that as a rural based CO project we have encountered:
    Choice of area- we have had to be careful in choice of area as each CO needs to undertake 500 listenings- so population may need to be 1000+ to have a realistic chance of achieving this in an area where housing is dispersed and the distances travelled are greater.
    Recruitment- Size of population in target area means that we were more likely to recruit TCOs from ‘out of area’ and this brings challenges for them – as well as the distances for travel they will lack familiarity with area and long term there may be sustainability issues once the trainee period is completed, but on the plus side they have a neutral position similar to a traditional CD worker role.
    New neighbourhoods- people may be out commuting and so have settled with low expectations about community life and local services so their expectations of what community has to offer may be quite low
    Practical concerns- safety, getting around, publicity, lack of meeting places for bringing people together, patchy mobile coverage, no toilets!
    As host we also have existing relationships and reputation with the target communities and their organisations- these need careful management to prepare the way- this particularly applies to the Parish Council.
    In a rural area there maybe fewer organisations and agencies than in an urban setting but those that do exist have greater influence and prominence - networks and partnership working are well established to ensure a collaborative approach to use of limited resources and to avoid duplication- so a CO project might be challenged if it is seen to be duplicating or crossing over existing priorities or not collaborating with established networks.
    Rural vs urban differences in emerging priorities– issues may be more subtle and less related to those of deprivation. Rural isolation and access to services and communication may be more prominent. Probably less sense of political activism than in an urban setting.
  • How does CO differ from CD approach?
    We feel that there are some commonalities between CO and the CD approach we might normally use-
    the underpinning values of community empowerment including social justice, equality and inclusion
    Capacity building support to enable people to:
    identify own needs and aspirations
    influence decisions makers about issues that concern them
    And take positive action to improve the quality of own lives
    CO starts with no predetermined agenda – as CD workers we would usually be invited into an area to work with a community on a specific issue but with CO there is no invitation …and we have not sought permission
    … CO engages with individuals on their doorsteps rather than with community groups- starts with individual needs rather than community ones. This approach is very demanding on resources and is not something we would normally be able to undertake as CD workers.
    CO seems to us to be less collaborative with existing networks and structures- in fact to be in direct challenge to existing groups as it is based on a transformational approach- this can cause conflict in a rural area as later on any new CO originated projects may need the political and financial support of existing organisations to ensure sustainability
    Final difference is that the legacy- is a holding team who hold ownership of contact list and information from listenings
  • At Community First we feel quite excited about CO because we recognize that has a different approach that brings some strengths:
    By door knocking, COs reach people that traditional methods of consultation don’t always reach.
    Through structured interviews, the COs build an important resource base of community concerns, ideas and assets
    By bringing people together they help build sustainable relationships, networks and capacity within communities.
    This leads to a new way of initiating community led activities and..
    …. a different path into volunteering
    A truly ‘bottom-up’ approach - engaging people one by one, resident by resident – building on what local people care about.
  • Not invited in- this can lead to tensions with existing agencies such as PC.
    Door knocking- safety issues- for public and COs- against all current guidance and best practice for protecting vulnerable people in their homes.
    Emerging priorities may be differ from official ones- CLP, JSAs,
    Operating at grass roots only to begin with so not linking with existing structures and networks- danger of duplication or acting ‘out of context’
    Care needed with existing relationships- to smooth any tensions, protect the CO and keep everyone informed of progress
    Bringing reputational risks for Community First
    Use of information- community holding team? The community holding team could be a really strong legacy for the community organising project as it will be armed with network of contacts, volunteers and some new leaders- but we also have questions about how this holding team will be organised, when and how they will begin to link with other organisations and agencies and above all what will be their relationship with the Parish Council? They could be a wonderful resource for the community but this view may not be shared by PC.
    Sustainability- funding the on going support for the new qualified CO after the first year. Sustainability of community organising in a rural context needs some consideration
  • Tool for engaging with people who do not normally get involved - ‘hidden voices’
    Role in supporting community rights such as neighbourhood planning, right to bid
    Potential to be a sustainable model for citizen involvement and volunteering- with a proviso of some ongoing support or funding
    PCs- work with them –possibly by training Parish Councillors in the skills of a CO?
    Is it just another tool in the box of CD tools? Well we feel that it is one which is not in conflict with existing approaches and provides a complementary approach to our work
    It has made us re-examine our work at CF at a time when we have also been reviewing how to fund and deliver or CD work in the future- so we can see potential for integrating community organising into our work in future- if we can develop a financially sustainable model
  • We are keen to sustain the CO work beyond the end of the initial training period. There is an employment start up grant available but would need some local match funding.
    There are several scenarios we have under consideration for the future:
    Securing funding to continue the work only in Roundway and Bishops Cannings
    As 1) but expanding the area to include other parishes or parts of Devizes
    Splitting the role -combining ongoing community organising work as in 1) and 2) with another type of community development support- making use of skills of CO in a different context
    Hit squad approach- CO is available for contract work, short term funded projects etc to help with community engagement, capacity building, volunteer recruitment etc.
    Develop Volunteer CO network- by providing training and support to volunteers and other CD workers in community organising
    Long term will also need to consider models for governance/management- employed or social enterprise?
    Overall we are enthusiastic about what Community Organising can offer in terms of community development and engagement whilst recognising that to secure the work into the future this may mean some modifications to the pure CO model used in this first year to make it sustainable in Wiltshire.
  • Community Organising and Community Development - ground level reflections (Marion Rayner, Community First, Community Development Manager)

    1. 1. Community Organising and Community Development- ground level reflections Marion Rayner Community Development Manager Rural Communities: development and organising…state of play 2014 8 Jan 2014 Reg. Charity No: 288117 Co. Ltd by Guarantee Reg. No: 1757334 VAT Reg No: 639386006 Registered with FCA No: FRN311971
    2. 2. Community First is… … the Rural Community Council (RCC) for Wiltshire and Swindon www.communityfirst.org.uk
    3. 3. A rural county Market towns 257 parishes Salisbury Plain Community areas= market town + parishes
    4. 4. Our CO project • Motivation- a different approach • Hosting 3 Trainee COs - 1 F/T, 2 P/T • Recruited April 13 • 2 based in Roundway • 1 in Bishops Cannings • Our impressions so far…
    5. 5. Practical issues • Choice of area • Recruit ‘out of area’ • New neighbourhoods • Practical concerns- safety, getting around, lack of meeting places, mobile signal, toilets! • Existing relationships • Rural vs urban differences
    6. 6. CD & CO approaches Some similarities with CD approach: •Community empowerment values •Capacity building support Differences: •No predetermined agenda •Works with individuals rather than groups •Starts with individual’s needs rather than community’s •Less collaborative with existing networks and processes •Legacy- ‘holding team’ with contacts and asset lists
    7. 7. Strengths of CO approach • Reach people that traditional methods miss • Builds resource of community concerns, ideas and assets • Builds sustainable relationships, networks and capacity • New way of initiating community led activities • New path into volunteering
    8. 8. Challenges • Not invited in • Door knocking- safety issues • Emerging priorities differ from ‘official’ ones • Operating at ‘grass roots’ -no linkage initially • Care needed with existing relationships • Reputational risks • Community holding team? • Sustainability
    9. 9. Opportunities • Engage with ‘hidden voices’ • Role in supporting community rights • Citizen involvement and volunteering • Parish Council involvement • Another ‘tool in the box’? • A new approach for Community First
    10. 10. Community Organiser perspective… Alex North Trainee Community Organiser for Roundway, Devizes
    11. 11. Sustainability? • Employment start up grant £15K, match required • Several scenarios: 1.Continue in existing areas 2.Expand into neighbouring areas 3.Combine CO work with CD support 4.‘Hit squad’ approach 5.Develop volunteer CO network • Employed or social enterprise? • Modify for sustainable rural CO
    12. 12. Any questions? www.communityfirst.org.uk mrayner@communityfirst.org.uk
    13. 13. Further information For further information about the work of the Community Organisers programme nationally www.cocollaborative.org.uk/ Community Organisers in Wiltshire: www.facebook.com/devcomorg www.twitter.com/devcomorg

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