| Anna Eaton
I’ve worked for two different MPs so I know how important doorstep issues are for people. On the ground is where real life is happening in communities and where the reality of services or lack of them presents itself and impacts. I think now more than ever, communities activating and forming groups and finding a voice to stand up for themselves is needed and has a much more lasting impact.
That is why I was particularly taken by an initiative set up in Edinburgh called Total Craigroyston which aims to improve outcomes for children and families in the neighbourhood around Craigroyston Community High School. It’s a place based approach set up by the Edinburgh Partnership which engaged the whole community as part of the initiative.
What really stands out about this project is that they produced a Roadmap for Total Craigroyston, described as “an instruction manual from the community on what needs to happen in order for the changes that the community – those who use services and those who deliver services – believes need to be made”.
Now more than ever, communities activating and forming groups and finding a voice to stand up for themselves is needed and has a much more lasting impact.
The Roadmap provides a process review on the engagement and consultation period including energized, exciting ideas such as ‘Immersion Week’ and a ‘Festival Day’ focused on asking members of the public what they thought about the future and the area. They took the consultation process to the streets, asking residents questions with great visual prompts and idea boards. Residents weren’t just asked “what do you need?” but “what would you start?”, encouraging a sense of empowerment and control that this was a joint effort about putting action in the community’s hands.
The process review shows that in every stage of engagement there was a mix of local residents, community groups, service providers and young people. Though this project was focused on families and children around Craigroyston Community High School, elderly groups, the police, service providers, housing officers and many more were involved to provide a broad and integrated approach.
The Roadmap provides a clear example of how things can be done and what worked successfully that others may wish to follow. And there are clearly positive results. Total Craigroyston’s most recent Taking Stock report from Autumn 2015 reported improvements in maths, literacy, reading, an increase in secondary school attainment with more students staying on and fewer children needing to be excluded and truanting figures down as well as many other improvements. Check out the Roadmap for some tangible examples about engaging with communities.