Residents drive change
In this piece, Sarah Gorman, Project Director for Edberts House, talks about how residents have built a relationship with Gateshead Council, who recognised the success of their work on the Local Conversation. The council is now working with them on other projects to create change in their neighbourhood.
For the last two years, residents on the Old Fold and Nest estates in Gateshead have been involved in a Local Conversation project, supported by local community group Edberts House.
“Edberts House has always worked closely with the council’s Neighbourhood Management Team. The relationship started quite early on because the building we used as our first hub seven years ago was a council community building. It was standing derelict and the council were exploring ideas as to its future use.
“Our council Area Coordinator was very forward-thinking and started what was in essence an asset transfer, before asset transfers were common place. He instigated the process with local politicians’ support and advocated why a community charity should be the custodian of the building. This involved convincing other officers to work in a very different way. This was the start of a collaborative relationship.
“As a result of the work that Edberts House had done in this area in Gateshead, we were approached by People’s Health Trust to support residents on the Old Fold and Nest estates to start a Local Conversation project.
“The same Area Coordinator has been involved in the Local Conversation. He actually grew up on the estate, so this personal experience of having lived here enabled us to work with other local people who wanted to see change in the community.
“He worked with us and residents to help us secure the property which has been transformed into the community hub, Pattinson House.
“Since then, with his help, we’ve continued to develop our partnership working. We’ve started to engage with quite a few other departments in the council. Community Safety are now involved because they recognise the value of local residents’ engagement, so they discuss with us how they can tackle enforcement issues in the area.
“Public Health are interested in the project because they see the impact the project is having on people’s wellbeing. They wanted to look at how they could deliver Public Health policy in a more community development based way.
“The Director of Public Health also put forward a Researcher to work alongside us to look at how the community development process can really bring forward results. This will help to inform the council’s policy making in the future and how they engage with communities effectively.
“In the voluntary and community sector we can deliver things in a different way with communities that is often much more effective than a top-down approach. It’s mutually beneficial.”
Sarah Gorman, Project Director for Edberts House
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