Our first BAB learning blog comes from Claire Littlejohn, a project worker on the Greater Fishponds Community Champions Project. It’s one of BAB’s Community Development for Older People projects, and uses an asset-based approach to empower older people to contribute to their communities, influence local decision making and increase social contact. Claire is sharing what she’s learned about making contact with older people to assess their needs and what she’s learned in the first year that the project has been up and running.
The original tender for the project talked about having a formalised volunteer community champion role with the person having full Asset Based Community Development training. In practice this has not happened. The role has become a far more organic role with people being encouraged, and enabled to step up to be active citizens in their local communities. This is proving to be far more popular. While door knocking is labour and work intensive it has been the ideal way for residents to meet their neighbours on a very informal and basic level, gathering information and interests and meeting residents who do not tend to leave their homes for any other reason.
The questions we asked are:
What are you interested in? What do you do in your spare time?
What would you like to do in your neighbourhood if other people were interested in the same thing?
What do you know enough about that you would like to share with others?
What would you like to see in your community? And how could you be involved?
After completing the door knocking in several areas across Fishponds it has become clear that knocking on doors as part of a team of residents is much more successful then knocking as a professional trying to make contact. The response was more welcoming and open, rather than a having a sense of ‘why are you here’ and ‘what do you want?’ I am hoping to roll out the model used in Oldbury Court to other areas of Fishponds. In Oldbury Court the interest of one person door knocking has grown into a team of about six people who volunteer to door knock on their neighbours. These people have gone out on eight occasions covering eight streets in the neighbourhood and have kept records of those interested in further involvement.
This activity has resulted in two key themes being identified as interest for the community and five people have stepped forward to establish a coffee morning in the area. The other theme is activities for young people and will develop outside of the BAB project.
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