Organising Ourselves: workshop summary

Organising Ourselves: what does that mean to you? And what needs to happen to support it?

Those questions were the focus of the third of this month's five themed workshops for 'Our Community, Our Future' Community Action Plan, which took place on the evening of Thursday 13 May.  Open to all, 10 local folk joined the discussion to work through these questions.

What did ‘organising ourselves’ mean to those who came to the discussion?  You can see a sample in the image above, which just captures one part of the discussion.  Overall, suggestions included:
  • Listening to the community - especially those who really matter, like those who will be most affected by changes.
  • People need to feel part of local decision making.
  • Local groups working in greater harmony, with less hostility in conversations - especially around the Community Trust.
  • Knowing where to go if I wanted to start a club or a project.
  • Overcoming the ongoing challenge of keeping people informed and updated across such a wide area and different ways of communicating, which has been especially hard during lockdown.
  • Thinking about the content of communications, as well as the means of communication.
  • Communications as a 2-way street - a responsibility on organisations to communicate as well as they can, and on individuals to seek out the information.
  • Doing as much as we can ourselves, as individuals or groups, rather than  looking to others to do it for us.
No decisions were made - it's too early in the process for that.  But, having looked through the Ideas Bank and what came out of the first Community Assembly, the group reached arrived at a set of realistic potential actions.  In no particular order:
  • Advisory group of local folk to help the Trust, and other organisations, improve their communications.
  • Regular informal public gatherings of community groups to share information, explain what they’re doing to the community and support each other.
  • Regular public meetings of the Community Trust, and a request to funders that full transparency is allowed.
  • A small co-ordinating group from across community organisations to oversee delivery of the Community Action Plan once it has been completed.
  • Community groups working together to organise themselves as the pandemic eases.
  • Employ people to deliver projects rather than relying on volunteers - a suggestion which came up at the Community Life working group too.
  • Transform the way that the Community Trust interacts with other community groups to provide co-ordination, collaboration and support.
  • Easier access to small funding pots for community action.

Some of these things are already starting to happen, as we heard during the workshop.  Others are new ideas. There may be gaps or things to change, but they all merit further investigation at the Community Assembly before writing a first draft of the Community Action Plan.
A number of gaps in the discussion were identified at the end of the meeting, including:
  • How groups might engage better with the local community, as much of the discussion was about how groups engage with each other.
  • How groups organise themselves coming out of COVID.
  • More discussion about volunteer burnout and the role of paid staff.
  • The need to expand the discussion beyond the Trust to include how everyone works together.

You can see a recording of the whole discussion in this video.

We’ll be sharing a summary of what was discussed at the forthcoming Community Assembly on 27th May.  That's your opportunity to see and review the ideas coming out of the five workshops as a whole and fill the gaps.  Don’t forget to book your virtual seat here!

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