Whether you’re planning a major redesign or some smaller changes, it’s important to get input and support from local people. Community involvement is integral to making changes in your street because the community will need to be fully supporting of the project and lead the process.
We have put together ideas on how to involve the community and ensure you design and deliver the changes your community wants.
Get everyone's views
The first step for any project is to introduce your idea to anyone who will benefit and ask for their input. It is important to take time to understand the feelings of local people about the neighbourhood and how they would like to move forward with improvements to meet local needs. As long as people support each other, a variety of opinions and even disagreements can help to explore ideas from many viewpoints and come up with innovative proposals. Often, residents develop a much stronger sense of community as they get to know their neighbours and work together.
Elect Community champions
Improving your street will only really work if there is interest, input and commitment from a number of the residents, but you will also need a core group of three or four people to make things happen.
These are the ‘community champions’, individuals who are willing to lead and manage the project, doing things like:
- running events to gather local opinion
- doing research and evaluation
- putting together proposals
- getting approval for the plan
- securing funding
- communicating with residents throughout the process and delegating tasks
- liaising with partners, such as local authority contacts, housing association officers, tree officers or local artists
Play to people’s strengths
There may be people who have experience of working on community projects or have specialised skills, like working with the press or running meetings.
You can use your initial meeting to identify individuals with specialist skills and experience and discuss who will take responsibility for certain aspects of the project.
Some residents may naturally lead the process and take on specific roles, but they shouldn’t have any more responsibility for making decisions than others.
Support and training opportunities
If the groups lacks experience or the necessary skills, there may be help available. Look for training opportunities on topics such as fundraising or setting up a residents’ group.
Encourage people to get involved
Although a few key people will lead the project, it is best practice to encourage active involvement by many more people in the community. This will help you keep up momentum, get new ideas and keep the project lively – as well as giving the key people a rest.
You will also inspire people to spread the message and share stories, giving them the opportunity to learn from each other and even pick up new skills. Taking part gives people confidence in their capacity to control their own circumstances and the chance to improve the community’s health and wellbeing.
Keep everyone up to date and have fun!
Social events are just as important as ‘business’ meetings, so arrange some activities where people can meet and have fun, too. Make sure everyone knows what’s going on by providing regular updates through face-to-face meetings, phone calls, texts, email or newsletters.