Community Engagement


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Community Engagement

  1. 1. Community Engagement the challenges & rewards Angela Fletcher. Head of Libraries and Heritage London Borough of Sutton  
  2. 2. London Borough of Sutton <ul><li>outer London authority </li></ul><ul><li>generally affluent, pockets of deprivation </li></ul><ul><li>4 star authority, improving well (CPA assessment) </li></ul><ul><li>cultural services – 3 star </li></ul><ul><li>population 182,700 </li></ul><ul><li>11% BME population </li></ul><ul><li>no strongly or clearly defined group </li></ul>
  3. 3. Sutton libraries <ul><li>part of Cultural Services </li></ul><ul><li>flagship service </li></ul><ul><li>reputation for innovation & excellence </li></ul><ul><li>best value review – 3 stars </li></ul><ul><li>9 libraries including the Central Library and the Phoenix Centre </li></ul>
  4. 4. The Phoenix Centre <ul><li>award winning multi use centre </li></ul><ul><li>defined geographical area </li></ul><ul><li>leisure, library, youth, community services </li></ul><ul><li>open plan </li></ul><ul><li>self service </li></ul><ul><li>unstaffed / single staffed </li></ul><ul><li>community contacts </li></ul>
  5. 5. The Phoenix Centre
  6. 6. Heritage Service <ul><li>3 historic houses </li></ul><ul><li>Whitehall – Honeywood – Little Holland House </li></ul><ul><li>museum service </li></ul><ul><li>archives (part of library service) </li></ul><ul><li>traditional service </li></ul>
  7. 7. Whitehall & Honeywood
  8. 8. What is community engagement? <ul><li>“ The process whereby public bodies reach out to the community to create empowerment opportunities.” </li></ul><ul><li>(Action plan for Community Engagement Building on Success DCLG and LGA, 2007) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Challenges <ul><li>most people don’t engage with strategies or policies.. </li></ul><ul><li>perceptions </li></ul><ul><li>history of dealing with the service or council </li></ul><ul><li>jargon and technical language </li></ul><ul><li>formal meetings and documentation </li></ul>
  10. 10. Challenges <ul><li>we need to: </li></ul><ul><li>recognise this effect </li></ul><ul><li>work around it using different ways </li></ul><ul><li>train & encourage staff </li></ul><ul><li>listen / encourage </li></ul><ul><li>avoid jargon </li></ul><ul><li>use social occasions </li></ul>
  11. 11. Community engagement has a cost <ul><li>staff time, both initially and in follow-up work </li></ul><ul><li>budget, there is no point in raising expectations without following through </li></ul>
  12. 12. Challenges <ul><li>we need to: </li></ul><ul><li>give weight & conviction to community engagement work at all levels – political, senior / middle management and on the shop floor </li></ul><ul><li>prioritise those who control budgets or staffing </li></ul><ul><li>allow staff time to work with the community, to build trust and links </li></ul><ul><li>celebrate good practice and give recognition </li></ul><ul><li>build into business plans and LAAs </li></ul>
  13. 13. Challenges <ul><li>staff don’t have the skills or confidence to do community engagement work. </li></ul><ul><li>massive challenge </li></ul><ul><li>part of the culture </li></ul><ul><li>can be at every level </li></ul><ul><li>shape our workforce in different ways </li></ul><ul><li>give opportunities & support to those who ‘can do’ </li></ul><ul><li>value people / social skills </li></ul><ul><li>include in recruitment, appraisals etc </li></ul><ul><li>training & opportunities to take risks </li></ul>
  14. 14. Challenges <ul><li>the community has unrealistic views or a range of opposing views… </li></ul><ul><li>history of mistrust </li></ul><ul><li>apathy / lack of interest </li></ul><ul><li>groups with unrepresentative or vested interest views </li></ul><ul><li>its not possible to please one group without upsetting another </li></ul>
  15. 15. Challenges <ul><li>we need to: </li></ul><ul><li>be honest – don’t mislead </li></ul><ul><li>seek wider views </li></ul><ul><li>look for compromise </li></ul><ul><li>build trust and deliver our promises </li></ul><ul><li>if not – be honest about why </li></ul>
  16. 16. Community engagement in Sutton <ul><li>Local committees: </li></ul><ul><li>Partners – SCOLA, </li></ul><ul><li>The Centre for Voluntary Services </li></ul><ul><li>Safer neighbourhood committees </li></ul><ul><li>Specific to libraries & Heritage: </li></ul><ul><li>Friends’ groups </li></ul><ul><li>Phoenix consultative group </li></ul><ul><li>Middleton Circle steering group </li></ul><ul><li>Examples: </li></ul><ul><li>Neighbourhood history project, </li></ul><ul><li>Middleton Circle Lottery project </li></ul><ul><li>Local Access Points </li></ul>
  17. 17. Rewards <ul><li>making a difference – both to individuals and the community </li></ul><ul><li>steering the service – real improvement </li></ul><ul><li>political involvement and support </li></ul><ul><li>funding bids </li></ul><ul><li>protecting the service </li></ul><ul><li>new ideas / inspiration </li></ul>
  18. 18. Conclusion there isn’t a right way… the only way to learn how, is to go ahead and do it… we’re not all good at it – those of us who aren’t should do everything we can to support those who are…