As the North Meets South Big Local enters the final stages of its work we seek to reflect on and evaluate our work to date and plan for what we can realistically achieve over the next few years. It remains a priority to, not just improve opportunities for individuals and lift the morale of the community, but also to ensure these continue once the programme finishes. It would be foolish to assume this will be easy. Motivating this community to become more self-sufficient and confident during a period of such financial, social and political uncertainty is not something that even generous resources can guarantee.
However, it is important to recognise achievements and maximize the possibilities. It will be our intention to find both physical, personal and the more nebulous self-confidence elements within our legacy. We will not make false promises or use pretentious language to suggest more than this is possible. We will work with all the activity leaders to avoid an over dependency on Big Local money and plan for future years, whilst being aware that for some this may be a challenge. The area is changing and significant new housing is planned and if possible we will help newcomers adjust to the area and become involved in its self-care. We will recognise where we can be effective and where we will make minimal impact and pass on to the appropriate agencies.
Our Legacy will include the following . . .
The investment in facilities on Tantony Green for people of all ages, but particularly play equipment for children, is already proving a major positive for the community. Planning will continue to ensure it is “looked after” and improvements continue. There will be benches in selected areas for people to sit, rest and chat.
Much time has been spent looking to create a stand-alone Hub for community activities. The available areas require a level of development funding beyond the current budget. However, we will work with partners and strive to achieve this. We will consolidate the work done within the Community Centre to give it long term life, and we will leave information and plans in the hope that some other funding stream may emerge.
Social Activities and Cohesion
NMS has helped small groups establish programmes for people of all ages to provide support, advice, direct activity and combat isolation and loneliness. The work with the elderly was recently recognised by the Mayor of London. We wish these to take root, become known to new residents and find long term self-sufficiency. Already their effectiveness is easy to see and it can only be hoped that this will continue as people move through the various age categories.
Experience shows that voluntary groups often flounder as individuals move on and there will be an investment in providing the support, motivation and training needed to preserve continuity and inspire new ideas. NMS seeks to leave behind healthy activity groups which recognise difference, social change and give opportunities to everyone to contribute and receive. NMS realises that, like in many areas, there are teenagers and young adults who do not readily respond to offers of support and are suspicious of formal attempts at service provision.
The later years of the Programme will attempt to develop community mentors, and to give important safety information (around knife crime, grooming, health care and similar issues). We will also support in areas such as employment and housing whilst being aware of the community response to anti-social behaviours. It is ambitious in expecting that, working with other statutory and voluntary agencies, real improvements can be achieved.
Positive Attitudes and Opportunities
NMS, through its Dragon’s Den Programme and social enterprise training, has provided individuals with opportunities to explore new life skills and employment opportunities. For some this has led to the possibility of sustainable employment whilst for others it has built up the confidence to deal better with complex life issues and plan for future work options. It is difficult to measure the effectiveness of these efforts but the anecdotal evidence is positive.Some long term change has occurred and we would expect this to continue in a way that goes beyond the timescales of Big Local involvement.
NMS hopes a major legacy of this periority will be an increase in the “can do” mentality of the community: a growth in taking responsibility for change rather than sitting back and letting others provide. Most residents are quite positive about living in the area, we hope to inspire resident to get involved in community development through our work. By seeing ordinary people taking care of themselves and their neighbours they will join them.