The Local People project in Swansea is supporting residents of all ages to build their confidence and take action on issues that are important to them.
The project is based in Townhill, a well-known estate that has a thriving community centre, which has been vital for the project.
Through engagement, local people decided on priorities they wanted to focus on, including improving communication across the neighbourhood and across social groups; responding to community need and organising more community activities.
Over time, residents have become more active in the project, which is led by a steering group that is a true representation of the community with a diverse age range.
The group consists of local people with strong social connections in the community who have a diverse set of skills and a passion for ensuring those that are seldom heard gain a voice through this project.
Being involved in the project has helped members gain confidence which has helped them in other parts of their lives too. Living in sheltered accommodation, Jeanette and Mandy represent the older people of the community. Their work with the steering group has led to them feeling much more confident, and they now have leading roles in the housing community which gives them much more developmental influence.
Jeanette, who used to feel very socially isolated, now runs a group herself and is an advocate for the older people of the community.
Jeanette said: “At one stage I was afraid to step out of my front door. Now, through the work of the Phoenix Centre and the Local People project, I genuinely feel I have a voice once more.
“I have increased my confidence and skills and am now able to undertake some of the responsibilities of a warden in my community. For the first time, I feel valued.”
Social connectedness has been a strong theme throughout the project. Andrew, a resident of Townhill who represents a group called Community Action for All started a Facebook page for Townhill and Mayhill residents. It has already attracted 112 members including local councillors. The page lists the activities of the centre and also gives residents the chance to comment.
The steering group meets once a month at the community centre to discuss progress, the allocation of grants and to debate directions for the future.
The group has begun the allocation of the community action grants, with forms being distributed within the community. The grants are used to address local priorities.
Sarah, who is a member of the steering group, said: “We’ve never had this kind of influence before. We’ve always encouraged people to do things and to get involved, but were denied the opportunity to be proactive because the Centre has always run on a shoestring budget.
“We are now able to exert real influence but in a very community-centred way. We can try to find people who wouldn’t naturally think about applying for a grant, and we can also offer them some help in applying.”
The committee is starting to understand that through the small grants programme, they are supporting increased social connectedness, building knowledge and skills and giving local people genuine influence over what happens.
As Townhill moves into the future, the committee will start to really focus on how new connections can genuinely lead to more influence and confidence being shown in and through the community.
The Local People project in Swansea is supported by Youth Sport Trust and funded by People’s Health Trust with money raised by Health Lottery Wales.
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