Case study of SMK’s consultancy support for one of Local Trusts Big Local community leaders.
What does your organisation/campaign do? What are your purpose and aims?
I am a Community Development Worker, working for an organisation called ‘TWICS’ (Training for Work in Communities) and in particular working with SO18 Big Local
Through this I had been supporting residents on two local issues: the lack of a proper bus service to an estate on the edge of Southampton; and the impact of a large scale local authority led redevelopment scheme on another neighbouring estate. Here the aim was to get a scheme which through its process and outcome actually benefited local residents and future residents.
Information on your campaign/issue. What was the problem you faced to begin with?
Buses: point of change, what to do when the bus service is a commercial company not answerable to anyone locally.
Regeneration: lack of residents being ‘at the table’ or forgotten when it came to communication and decisions.
Why did you decide to get support? What was the reason you sought consultancy from SMK?
We took up the offer of a place on the Local Trust ‘Campaigning for Social Change Learning Cluster’ – a series of 4 meetings spaced over a year. I attended with two (resident / volunteer) colleagues from our Big Local area, one of whom was working on the bus issue, the other on the Regeneration issue. I went to support them, and also because as a Community Development Worker I saw this as an opportunity to develop and check out my own knowledge and skills.
What was the impact of the consultancy? Have you done anything differently since? Have you achieved any wins/changes?
The Learning Cluster was brilliant. I have attended various Local Trust events/training and this learning cluster was definitely the best. I think because it was really relevant, because there were 4 sessions allowing time, and to get to know other participants. The sessions did not have to cram everything in but could take time to really look at something in depth. The result is I’ve actually remembered some things I learnt (which is pretty spectacular!). The single most useful lesson was that in campaigning, personal story is very powerful as it is not challengeable. (My colleague will say ‘the Lived Experience’). I think the other thing is to find and bring solutions as well as just identifying problems: I sort-of knew this already but it helped in countering when residents say ‘it’s not my problem to think about what would make the xxx problem better, I just want something done’. Ie it legitimises saying, ‘you’re the local expert on this issue, you’re the one experiencing the problem, so what do you think could be done?
So with the buses, knowing that the Bus Service Operators Grant was up for renewal, campaigning around this (with local political allies) and getting to the stage in around January where the City Council had agreed to use this tender opportunity for a Sunday service for the estate. Then Covid happened and the bus service has gone from bad to appalling! So we need to re-group. (Though the Sunday service proposal appears to have re-emerged onto the table).
With the Regen, gradually the residents through SO18 Big Local have got closer the ‘table’, and over recent months have been routinely involved in things they weren’t before (eg in designing a communications strategy). There are a number of factors behind this (including changes of key councillors and council officers). I think for my colleague, the legitimising of using and highlighting ‘the lived experience’ in meetings etc has been particularly useful.
”The Learning Cluster was brilliant. I have attended various Local Trust events/training and this learning cluster was definitely the best.”
Community Development Worker
TWICS (Training for Work in Communities) and SO18 Big Local.