The first Walworth CAN meeting was an interesting experience to say the least. We experimented with a new structure which involved beginning in a big circle - you could say that we were channelling our ancient cultural inner-selves. The intention was to create an equal and open space for people to share whatever concerns of issues they had.
As a result three attendees then volunteered the discussion topics that would form the centre-points for the next stage of the experiment: Open Space discussions.
The premise behind these is that participants create and manage their own agenda and guide the resulting discussions. Those who attended the meeting were free to pick and choose exactly which discussion they wanted to join and move between discussions if they so wished.
The results of which you can see below…
How Do We Work together to Influence?
- Shaun O'Regan - Hosuing Activist/Rodney TRA
- Susan Crisp - Friends of Burgess Park
- Robert Jamieson - Community Southwark
- Liba Hoskin - Alvey TRA
- We need to work together with the council
- If not, work together with each other to lobby the council and build alliances
- Knowledge and history of an area is held by the local community
- Identify opportunities to work together and find common ground – weight in numbers/plurality of views
- We need deep research to understand
- It can be difficult to engage with TRAs
- We are in a crisis – we have to position ourselves against social justice
- It takes time and effort to build partnerships/alliances
- Knowledge on local issues is vital
- What does working together mean?
- How can we grow our network?
- Can we sustain communities if they are in a crisis?
- Build strong relationships with TRAs – contact SGTO
- Lobby council on where building line is in relation to new developments near parks (Nursery Row example)
- Community groups share more information
- Are they listening?
The Future of Local Community
- James Keen - Inspire
- Peter Wright - BAR TRA
- Fabienne de Lattre – Paxton Green Time Bank
- Dot McEvoy – Alberta TRA
- Carole Wheatly – Newington TRA
- Losal Chiodak - Alvey TRA
- Interruption of local community connection from temporary residents
- Infrastructure and design of new builds hinders local interaction (e.g keys of your building only access your floor so you cannot visit your neighbours)
- Community Engagement Officers of building companies used to be better
- Commitment to the past
- How do you effectively engage an increasingly diverse and transient demographic that makes up your immediate community?
- Where can people get the knowledge and know-how to create Tenants and Residents Associations (TRAs) that are effective in instigating real change
- How do you reverse disengagement?
- Find out about things that are happening locally (action groups and funding opportunities) – Use the Southwark CAN website!
- Keep action group participants informed
- Fresh idea on how to publish community groups (raise awareness?)
- Become a member of the CAN website and use its resources/support
Engagement: Not the Usual Suspects
- Suzanne Worrica – Paxton Green Time Bank
- Sue Thomas -
- Ian Redding – Community Southwark
- Nathan Lewis – Community Southwark
- Mike Wilson – Pembroke House
- People don’t know what is going on
- People are often engaged around problems/using their skills
- Consultation needs to be in everyday language/use real facts
- We need to give more examples of campaigns that have actually worked – incorporate story telling
- One-to-One communication is key to forming relationships. Helps overcome the fear of forming new relationships
- Trust has been lost within communities and of statutory bodies
- How can we inspire trust?
- How do we find the real communicators within communities?
- How do we find the right forums?
- What’s the connection between engagement in communities and political engagement?
- Find ways to build relationships
- Find appropriate/apt ways of communicating
- How? Getting info out – identify where people congregate, identify the real communicators
- Asset mapping
- Recognise that this will be a slow process
- Who? People self-identify as leaders. Is it us?
The first Walworth CAN meeting confirmed that we are very much in a learning process… Many of the conversations that were had were quite broad but all focussed on building stronger communities and establishing the key questions that need to be answered in order to achieve that. There was a large consensus established that stated that this took time, effort, and most importantly, trust.
Communication between different community groups and organisations, and individuals is vital and we will begin work on improving these networks. The meeting felt very much like the start of a conversation and we will look to develop this over the next few months.