The Project So Far…
Community Action: MK are supporting the community of Netherfield to create a plan around making the estate an even better place to live. This involves supporting the community to host a ‘Local Conversation’, a funding approach by the People’s Health Trust involving working with residents of a neighbourhood to determine how to spend up to £175,000. This project is allowing us to build on existing work aimed at understanding key, current local priorities and supporting residents to take action.
So far we have supported the community of Netherfield to form a Local Conversations Steering Group. The group is made up of representatives from many locally based groups including the Netherfield Residents Association, The Netherfield Doers, Buckland Lodge Older Person’s Accommodation, Langland School PTA, The Netherfield Environment Team and Friends of Netherfield Children’s Centre. We supported the group to initially create an engagement map showing the current reach of their respective groups and any gaps. This was used to create an engagement plan involving steering group members and CA:MK staff consulting with as broad a cross section of the local community as possible over the summer.
Local people were engaged with at existing events and activities such as coffee afternoons, trips and fun days as well as through activities especially for the project in order to bring more people out of their houses and involve them with the consultation and therefore the plan. Activities such as the Woughton World Cup allowed us to speak to more men in Netherfield and ‘on the street’ engagement with a local BMX stunt rider allowed us to talk to more young people who were not attending existing activities. Steering group members have specifically targeted local groups such as the multi-cultural women’s social group and local youth clubs to ensure that everyone has a chance to have their voices heard. In addition to face to face contact, we have sent feedback forms to each household to allow every resident to find out about the plan and have their input. So far 555 people have contributed to the plan, with 587 dialogues collected.
The focus of engagement was establishing local priorities by asking community members what they liked, disliked and felt would improve the community of Netherfield. The high number of responses provides credibility to a well-focused set of 4 themes which were clearly identified as priorities by the Community Steering Group. These were: 1) Decreasing fly tipping/littering & improving landscaping, 2) Increasing the number & range of activities for children & young people, 3) Decreasing anti-social behaviour – particularly groups of drinkers, 4) Improving / creating parks and communal green spaces.
Using the People’s Health Trust planning phase, we have been able to build on existing engagement and community activity and reach an even wider section of the community. This has given new people a reason to get involved and realise they can affect their estate. The process has shown that priorities we have recorded via previous engagement are mirrored by the new community members we have reached this quarter. The estate is now united over common goals and is keen and excited about taking action to address these shared priorities.
Once the priorities have been approved by the People’s Health Trust, the next phase of the project will begin with the Community Steering group initiating further engagement with community members to hone ideas aimed at addressing the priorities. They will also liaise closely with local stakeholders and agencies to ensure joint working and collaboration are at the forefront of the plan going forward.
The Steering Group are the driving force of the Local Conversations project. They have been at the heart of the engagement process so far, and will continue to consult with their community, represent local opinions and steer the direction of the plan accordingly. The Steering Group are passionate about ensuring the priorities identified are addressed in the best way possible, and want to make sure the the plan is led, and owned by the local community. We will support ongoing community engagement to ensure residents remain in control of the plan. We will support the Steering Group to work with local agencies, and to affect change by using the evidence gathered to inform decisions about what the community want, and how it can be achieved. The PHT funding to deliver the plan will offer the residents an opportunity to truly lead meaningful and sustainable community led action in Netherfield.