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How to Communicate with your Local Community

Communicating with your local community and ensuring their engagement with your work can be challenging, with different obstacles in densely-populated areas and in more isolated, rural communities. This how-to shows how Fair Share Trust Local Agents have attempted to effectively communicate with members of the local community.

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Example 1: The Big Map

Area: FST Local Agent Suffolk ACRE

Aim: Ensuring the views of local community were captured.

Method: Employed consultants to visit communication with a detailed large map of the area. The map was detailed and had space for people to label their concerns and needs.

Outcomes: A detailed picture was drawn up of the needs and concerns of the local community, which fed directly into the business plan priorities. Some of these priories will involved further investigative work, while others will influence grant making strategy in the area.

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Example 2: Take the projects to the Community

Area: Fair Share Trust funded projects in Linwood, Scotland.

Aim: Ensure projects had a good profile in the neighbourhood and celebrate successes to date.

Method: Ran a Fair Share Trust awareness-raising event. Every funded project was represented and attendees were offered a range of activities that demonstrated what each of the projects were trying to achieve, including health assessments, woodland walks and alternative therapies. Entertainment was provided for younger people via taster sessions in circus skills.

Outcomes: Over 100 people attended from community and FST local panel members. The event led to some excellent feedback and brought the funded projects closer together, forging better working relationships between them. The event also invigorated local Panel members who took great pride in seeing the positive reaction of local residents to the funded projects, and it was an excellent opportunity to talk about the programme to local residents and gather feedback.

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Example 3: Communicate Virtually

Area: Parnwell, Peterborough.

Aim: Ensuring local community had access to information about the programme and the opportunity to respond to activities.

Method: Ran a communication project culminating in the creation of a website (www.positivelyparnwell.org.uk) to raise awareness of Fair Share Trust funded work in the neighbourhood. A logo was designed after a competition in a local primary school, and the site is to be maintained by a local volunteer. Functions of the website include:

  • Details of forthcoming events
  • Holding photos and downloadable newsletters
  • Inviting opinions and responses to consultation.

The ‘Friends of Ashfield Fair Share Trust’ group on Facebook is also a popular method of communicating – with the local community in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, and wider. The group’s fans have regular access to updates on funding and campaigns, invitations to events, news & research, photos and a discussion board, to make the experience truly interactive.

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Example 4: Reaching Minority Groups

Area: Wrexham, North Wales

Aim: To improve communications and relations with the local Gypsy & Traveller community.

Method: FST funded two Inclusion Officers to work with this group, to advocate on their behalf and ensure that issues are raised and policies scrutinised by the groups.

Outcomes: The Inclusion Officers have co-ordinated a project for the Local Authority, aimed at dispelling myths and beliefs held by Local Authority staff around the ways of life of Gypsy & Traveller communities. The resulting DVD was positive in outlook and explored issues such as history, culture & religion, discrimination, living on sites, education and future aspirations, all from the perspective of the Gypsy & Traveller communities. The impact of this greater understanding of Local Authority staff should be substantial and long-term. Progress in bridging the gap between the public sector and local residents, and dispelling myths and misunderstandings.

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Example 5: Spread the net wide

Area: Kingston-upon-Hull.

Aim/ Problem: Although the Fair Share Trust programme presented the ward with a relatively large sum of money, it was not going to solve all the problems of the targeted estate at once. They were therefore keen to ensure that the investment and activity focused on the Fair Share Trust aims below:

  • that the money was owned by local people;
  • that it was spent on what local people identified as the priorities for the area;
  • that it complemented what was already happening in the neighbourhood.

 Method: They therefore took the following steps:

  • Establishing the local Panel so that it was widely representative of the area and gave local people maximum opportunity for involvement;
  • Consulting widely with other agencies already working in the area;
  • Making information and plans widely available through local residents on the Panel, public meetings, community newspapers and public consultation events to gain feedback on priorities.
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Summary of Key Information

Summary of Key Information

  • Gather the views of local people early on, and ensure they are built into the programme and targets set and communicated.
  • Funded projects are also keen to raise their profile with the local community. Make the most of this by helping them get the message across.
  • Take advantage of web-based technology – you might even find a volunteer to set up and maintain a website or social networking presence for you.
  • Take time to research and respond to the needs of monitory or hard to reach groups in the local area.
  • Spread your net wide, to ensure your message is heard by as many people as possible.
  • Communicate via:

-          word of mouth

-          events

-          email & websites

-          social networking

-          newsletters

-          leaflets

-          consultations

-          work plans & updates

Further information

Positivley Parnwell: www.positivelyparnwell.org.uk

Fair Share Trust Learning Documents: http://www.fairsharetrust.org/index.php/learning/cfn_learning_documents/

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Page last edited Feb 15, 2018 History

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