Developing Community Engagement
One of the tasks I set myself on being elected Chair of the Parish Council in May 2019 was to develop more tangible links with the community and I think I can say there has been progress here. With the setting up of the Community Hub, joint working with the Rosie Bus Organisation on the new Community Bus Service and the development of the Lucy Pygott Centre. Snow Windows was the outcome of a very successful collaboration with our High Street retailers and businesses and we have had very successful events this year such as the Village Festival, the Village Picnic and more recently the Spooktacular at the Orchard.
Research I recently came across (1) evidences how engagement of this nature helps to build societies and communities that are stronger, more united, and more resilient. It reports that:
- Getting involved locally provides a pathway to greater trust and confidence.
- Many want more of a say in decisions made about their local community.
- A majority believe that people in their area can find ways to improve society when they want to.
It goes on to say that many feel they can make a real difference and solve meaningful issues for themselves and their families in the day-to-day, unlike national debates which feel distant from their lives.
So, in the context of these findings, the Parish Council is actively looking at ways of building and sustaining this constructive dialogue with the community. Sitting alongside the Community Hub and the existing management team at the Victoria Hall, a series of Working Parties/Steering Groups is being considered covering areas such as the Community Bus and Lucy Pygott Centre (mentioned previously) and also Community Events – including the annual Community Awards. There are also a number of activities on the horizon such as a review of the Neighbourhood Plan and more active engagement in the care of the Conservation Areas, Commons and Ponds to name but a few. Particularly topical issues would include Health & Wellbeing and Climate Change also.
In my mind I envisage harnessing the capabilities of our strong Parish Office Team with the public service ethos of our Parish Councillors – keep an eye open for the vacancies that crop up from time to time – and importantly the active engagement of the community.
Please do share your thoughts with me!