The parallels with tenancy/residents engagement

Author: Caroline Barker

Since the workshop, Megan and I have been busy continuing to build and sustain the relationships we’ve worked hard to make. Through these links, we’ve been meeting even more people passionate about communities and doing amazing things out there in the community.

Today we shared a coffee with a number of people working with or for the council – with a focus on housing. They shared their knowledge of the barriers to community engagement (with the purpose to work with residents to improve housing) from schemes like Decent Neighbourhoods.

“Decent Neighbourhoods isn’t just about making an area simply look better, it’s about getting the local community on board so that residents feel part of the transformation and proud of what’s happening in their neighbourhood.” Aidan Cooper Decent Neighbourhoods Project Manager 

Some of the barriers parallel directly with the messages we, as Reaching Out Southampton, have been trying to share:

Plants for People project – residents working together to create community gardens
  • Address ‘What’s in it for me?’
  • Honesty, transparency, respect and trust are important
  • Be innovative and try new things
  • Avoid duplication (learn from what others are already doing well)

Other advice given resonated with how I’ve been feeling recently about how under-resourced, and under-skilled, we are to really build and then keep relationships.

  • You need the right person – someone that people are able to open up to
  • It takes time to build credibility
  • You need to be present in their space/community – otherwise credibility/trust wont come

We also heard about how the council is an authority that are tainted to many and so they need to get through to the residents using other means – for example using art or creative techniques, led by non-council members. This did make me question whether the same barrier exists for us.

One of the transformed neighbourhoods

What next?

We have kindly been invited to join them at various housing/residency events, which we will of course be attending. And in the wider project we will be taking on their reflections and using their advice to be present as much as possible.

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