Councillors and local authority employees are part of neighbourhoods and communities; we all live in neighbourhoods. How can we connect the dots between elected representatives and communities so we all work together for the good of the whole?
A key message from our research is the need for councillors to connect to community infrastructure. where it exists, and where it doesn’t, there is potential for councillors to help develop it.
Working on your own reduces the impact of what you do, yet linking in, making connections and cooperating requires some form of structure as well as principles of working.
Your role as a community champion is to bring groups together to shape what people want in the area and facilitate a shared planning process as a team. It is the process of working together with people which is important – this is what creates a connected community.
…it’s not about the ‘plan’ but the planning
See yourself as ‘a’ leader NOT ‘the’ leader, working more effectively with the groups that are already out there and operating as a team in your area – many leaders and champions working together. You will then be informed by activists and support them to play active roles to become more influential. This will help you manage others’ expecations about what is within your gift to do.
…have a more visible presence in the community and make proper time for community groups
As a community champion you role is to be a connector and link people and services together.
- Find out more about teams and how they work
- identify and support local structures to bring councillors and local people together
- support these structures with effective facilitation – either by self or somebody else with these skills
- engage people in ‘area board’ stuff – make meetings interesting and informal so that people have the chance to speak and be listened to
- link up with other local service providers in different sectors – police, transport, health care, youth provision
- identify and utilise others as links in the chain e.g. Town Clerks, community workers, police liaison officers
- expect and encourage officers to be open and visible
- make local connections and introductions – residents know local officers who work in the area
- link up with other initiatives e.g. transition towns
- identify and develop area data to back up area priorities
Move onto communities influencing change