Caia Park Partnership - A Local Conversation in Caia Park

25 September 2017

“Being involved has built my confidence. Now I can help others who feel isolated in the community to feel part of it and have a voice.” Rhian Jones, resident

“When we started back in 2015,  it was the beginning of an ongoing conversation in the community  about what mattered to local people.

Those that live here know the area has  a lot to offer; our conversations gave a picture of optimism, hope and pride, countered by a feeling that the area’s prevailing culture was downbeat. When we talked about particular priorities  to focus any additional resources on, there was considerable consensus  on four topics.

Many felt that young people were being overlooked, there weren’t many activities for them in the area and we wanted to address that.

People also wanted to address social isolation, particularly amongst older  men, and befriending was seen as  a popular way to improve resilience  and confidence. The community  hope to build a network of volunteers,  including befrienders.

Most people felt that organisations working in the area didn’t listen properly to their needs and weren’t working effectively together, leading to people  not getting the support they needed,  and time being wasted.

Residents see volunteering as a way for them to develop their skills and experience, and enrich and extend the reach of community-based services, bolstering their capacity and effectiveness for the future.

We have been busy starting to address our priorities, and we now have a small grants programme through which local groups can bid for seed funding to get new ideas off the ground. Residents decide how money is invested.

A new residents’ association is being  set up, there’s a youth forum, weekly coffee mornings, car boot sales,  a resident-led steering group for the project, community clean ups, and  older people are running a lunch club.

Our network of volunteers and supporters is growing, and as time goes on, we can see that the project is helping to build links in the community, and bring people together who wouldn’t normally meet or talk. Community groups are offering each other support, local businesses are getting involved, there’s an increased sense of hope, and people feel more empowered.

Whilst the initial engagement phase of the project is over, it’s never really over. We continually test our priorities to  make sure they’re still important and relevant to the local community. The Local Conversation must be inherently flexible, because people’s needs will change over time.”

Tracey Byrne, project officer

 

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