Localism is about supporting and inspiring confidence in communities. It’s laying the foundation stones on which relationships and activity can stand; working in ways which make people feel more confident – in themselves and in you.
Things that can help:
Connecting with people
People are more likely to come along, get involved, contribute, stay involved and spread the word if they can see that their own interests are on the agenda and they understand what it is that everyone is working towards. You can play a part in this by encouraging people to talk about their aspirations and visions:
- talking to people as equals
- creating innovative and creative ways of getting people together
- asking people about their priorities – what’s good about where they live and what they would like to change
- asking people about their interests
Being open and transparent – don’t promise things you can’t deliver
There is no reason why communities would – or should – know how the local authority operates, what your position is in it, how the structures work, how decisions are made or how any of this links with what is happening nationally. You will be aware of the complexity of the whole thing but you may not know all the details yourself. Be as clear as you can and don’t elaborate when you don’t know. Clarity can help people to have a clearer understanding about their rights and responsibilities, it can make them feel more comfortable about assessing and taking choices. They are more likely to get involved and stay involved.
This also builds trust – the bedrock of community involvement
Encouraging people in communities to feel they can make a difference
It is very difficult for people to feel motivated and give up time to something if their contribution is not valued and they feel it could all have happened without them. It might be that their skills are not recognised, or it might be that their experience of the world is not the dominant one in the room.
Whilst we have many experiences in common, we are all products of our particular and diverse cultures, families, backgrounds and traditions. If people value themselves and each other, they are in a better position to develop a network of support, deal with the inevitable conflicts and inequalities between them, and work together to make positive changes.
You can make a difference to this experience by making sure that people feel valued – by you and by each other:
- encourage people to listen to others
- remind people that we all have different ‘takes’ on the world – and are all products of it
- encourage people to take on roles
- encourage people to consider civic roles they could take on: magistrate, school governor
Seeing people in communities as resources and assets
People bring many skills, already acquired throughout their own experiences, they also have potential to develop new skills. For example, councillors can support others’ leadership skills by
- giving people time and space to learn and develop skills and understanding
- sharing roles at meetings
- asking people to take on specific tasks
- recognising that people ‘don’t know what they don’t know’
- providing useful and accessible information
- enabling people to understand the time that decisions and actions can take
…people lobbied me to get double yellow lines and then got cross when it wasn’t done as quick as they wanted…takes up to year to go through all the checks and balances to get actioned
Now move onto Pooling resources