South Bank ‘Alley Action Day’ was a culmination of collaborative working between You’ve Got This (YGT), Redcar & Cleveland Borough Council’s community development officer and the Police and Crime Commissioners Safer Streets officer.
The local area was already a focus of place-based working. This approach enables different partnerships to address local priorities through a person-centred, bottom-up way. The aim is to test new methods that support the unique needs of people in a local area to work together and take action on issues they have identified as a priority.
Through the place-based work approach, a community development officers meeting was established. This meeting enabled officers to work together on a collective goal, to create more safe spaces in South Bank for social, community and physical activity.
South Terrace alley had been made more secure with locked gates, but the Council, YGT, and Safer Streets wanted to take this further and make the alleyway a valuable space for residents.
Lauren Perkin, You’ve Got This, programme officer said: “This was a fantastic opportunity to try new ways to engage with residents to create trust and build stronger relationships.
“Trying to do things differently and not assume we already had all of the answers meant the residents felt empowered to develop a new strategy to alleyway work with us.”
The work resulted in residents painting, planting and making their alley a place for them to use, socialise and enjoy together.
This video shares the views of the officers involved in the project
Having completed the ‘Alley Action Day’, the team could share their first-hand experience of how working collaboratively with the community results in positive change.
Lauren added: “Communicating what we’re looking to do informally and with plenty of notice was really important.
“Postcards were hand-delivered to each door, informing people of a ‘tea and talk‘ meet-up where we listened to all of their ideas. Our priority was to keep residents continuously in the loop and ensure they felt valued and listened to.
“When it came to the event, we again sent invitations door to door and included a statement which reinforced what we had already done by stating ‘from your ideas we are going to support you to….’ this showed we had listened to their needs.”
Before starting the work, the collaborative working group identified they all had great ideas but questioned if those ideas were suitable for that community. They also recognised that they didn’t know the priorities of each resident and that they needed to find out what they were.
Hosting an initial chat with residents over tea and cake was a great way to understand the community demographic, their priorities for the space, and to start to build relationships with local people.
Once the ‘Alley Action Day’ arrived, the community officers took more of a back seat and encouraged residents to take the lead, only stepping in to help not to do. This vital approach created community ownership and identified potential leaders who could continue to care for the alley’s upkeep.
Lauren added: “Reframing how we worked with the community to make sure they were at the centre of everything we did resulted in us building much stronger relationships between local people and council officers.
“Taking the work to the community and being present in their space gave us a greater understanding and a broader range of insight than we had initially anticipated.
“The most critical lesson we learned was that it’s about how we work with the community, not what we do to them.
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