Partnership Locality Manager – working in a multi-agency environment within a Local Strategic Partnership framework, focusing on locality working where the district has been broken down into five smaller area.
20.2% of the population are of retirement age or older (this compares with 18.5% for England and Wales). Most rapidly increasing sector of the population is 75+, and over the next 20 years it is expected that his age group will more than double.
Gaining a better understanding: This information enables service delivery to be bespoke to identified needs and resources allocated to achieve maximum impact to local communities Locality Working is about improving quality of life within a community and the way in which services are provided within that community. Working with local communities and local agencies a better understanding of what works well and what needs to be improved is ascertained. Through the local government structures of parish, district and county councillors, communication with local communities can be improved and support given to groups wanting to solve their own problems
The top two groups in South Staffordshire are successful professionals living in suburban or semi-rural homes and residents living in isolated rural communities, the third group is residents of small and mid-sized towns with strong local roots. When we are looking for feedback from our local communities to inform our strategies and consult on our priorities for a statistically sound return we need to target our residents in the right way. Often we hold fact to face meetings through Partners And Communities Together (PACT) meetings, but according to our customer insight information successful professions living in suburban or semi-rural homes are less likely to respond through face to face interaction. This group of people are more likely to be associated with local voluntary organisations and community associations and with an increase in volunteers being an outcome from the community safety partnership effective engagement with this sector of the community is essential (through internet, telephone or post). Again residents of isolated rural communities still value a traditional county ‘way of life’, characterised by a strong community spirit and sense of responsibility towards one’s neighbours. Community Voice is a forum led by the Voluntary & Community sector in South Staffordshire. It encourages local people and community groups to meet twice a year to network, hear about local projects and work by other local groups and put their ideas forwards to set up new activities. South Staffordshire Council are funding one project/activity per locality which will be set up and managed by the Community Voice forum (led by one of the local community groups), but the rural communities who don’t have access to an extensive range of community services, do have good voluntary networks, again it’s effective engagement of this sector of the local community. Transport as you have/will hear has evolved since the Rural Transport Partnership was established 18 months ago. Local elected members assisted South Staffordshire Council with promoting the ‘myplacemysay’ website and although interaction wasn’t exceptionally busy to begin with, it did give us an insight into some of the problems our local communities were facing.
As part of the priority setting process in South Staffordshire a lot of engagement takes place with local communities, to consult on proposed priorities and to tease out local issues that can be fed into the final agreed priorities. Children and young people offer an alternative view about crime, youth facilities, employment, access to services and transport and we access this group through the established structures of the Young People’s Service, Families First and Educational system. The Voluntary & Community Sector support the forums to encourage networking across community groups and to assist with the setting up of a local project/activity. Business are a sector South Staffordshire is just beginning to tap into, to establish their issues and how the district council can support them. Face to face consultation is a fluctuating activity and has been tried in several different guises – with structure focus groups, open public meetings, themed meetings and ward walks. This is a constant developing piece to the cycle and a further review will be taking place in April, once this cycle has been completed. A Rural focus groups is to be incorporated into the cycle next year and now we have the customer insight information available, targeting the rural communities can be improved via the V&CS networks, by talking to people within their local village – via the village agent network up and running in South Staffordshire, via mobile phone networks – through the existing Rural Watch initiative active in the district and through the internet – e-mail and ‘myplacemysay’.
Background• Fourth lowest District Council Tax in the Country• South Staffordshire mainly rural district nestled among the big conurbations of Wolverhampton, Dudley, Sandwell.• Rural district with 27 Parishes – and no main town• 1 of 8 district councils that make up Staffordshire County.• Population of approximately 106,000, named by Audit Commission as fastest ageing district in England particularly across the 85+ age group
Locality workingMain distinguishing feature ofSouth Staffordshire is thatthere are no towns. There areseveral large villages but assuch, no focal point.To address this SouthStaffordshire Council, with itspartners and the aid of theIdEA, developed a localitymodel for the district.
Why Locality Working?• Gaining a better understanding of what works well already and what needs to be improved.• Improving communication between the different levels of local government and the community• Developing new ways to deliver services more flexibly• Improving the way that service providers work together in partnership• Supporting the community to solve its own problems
Customer Insight – Getting to know our residentsThings we didn’t know:• How residents accessed services• How they like to receive information• Top two groups : % of residents who live in isolated rural communities and successful professionals living in suburban or semi- rural homes• How diverse our parishes are
Rural Transport• Previously we had a very generous token based concessionary travel scheme.• For those that were solely reliant on it, it didn’t go very far.• Public transport across the district was not very good or accessible.• A South Staffordshire Rural Transport Partnership was convened to explore different models.
Aims of the Project…• To develop a web based solution which would allow residents in each locality to receive information.• Comment on it and add additional information.• Vote on the emerging projects.• Be involved in the design of the successful projects.
What we discoveredThe council thought residents in Locality 2 wanted regular bus services to Stafford and Wolverhampton. However, the consultation through MPMS identified that residents wanted a service to Telford (i.e. outside the county). As a direct result of this the SSRTP introduced a Saturday service.An unexpected consequence of this decision has been an increase in the number of people from Telford travelling to the Penkridge market.
Benefits• MyPlaceMySay has provided the stimulus for the council to investigate the wider use of Social Media.• The council has, for the first time, begun to develop its social media presence• The spin-off MPMS/business site will also continue as the authority looks to improve its relationship with local businesses, replacing expensive paper copy
Lessons learnt• Technical development was a success• Bolstered our knowledge of social media• But – tying MPMS to rural transport made uptake more difficult• Broadband connections in rural settings• Project timings didn’t always coincide
Where now?• Invaluable lessons about social media – its benefits and its limitations in rural communities• Strong brand – but technology has developed• Social media plan in place – unthinkable two years ago