The Neighbourhood Partnership is still in its early days – no-one has a magic blueprint for ensuring that local people feel involved in their communities to make them a better place: it is more the case of “having a go” and see what works well.
There are lots of ways of ways of making a contribution, irrespective of how much time you have. Below are some ideas.
1) Contacting your rep for the Bishopston Society with your comments and ideas
On September 27th 2010 Bishopston Society AGM elected a representative to sit on the Neighbourhood Partnership for the following 12 months. You can contact her through this website with any comments or queries in relation to improving the quality of life of people in this area. From time to time the Bishopston Society will be consulting with its members on behalf of the Partnership, so please respond: responses will be collated and fed into the Partnership and influence decisions.
Once a year this position will be up for election. If you are interested in standing for election in the future, then do contact the current representative, or the Secretary for more information.
2) Attending open Forum Meetings as a local resident
Open Forum meetings, chaired by local councillors, are held every quarter in each ward (go to http://www.bristol.gov.uk/ccm/navigation/council-and-democracy/neighbourhood-partnerships/ for dates and venues). They are usually in the early evening.
The agenda always includes issues around local policing and community safety but there are also opportunities for local people to have your say about how you want your local area to be. Often your concern can be passed onto a Council staff member and dealt with quickly.
3) Joining a Partnership subgroup/task group
The Neighbourhood Partnership currently has six such working groups:-
- Social engagement
- Wellbeing grant process
- Highways and pavements
- Street plant tubs
- The urban environment (streetcleaning, open spaces, graffiti etc)
As a local resident, if you have the interest and time, you could join one of these groups. Talk to Johanna Holmes, our Partnership Co-coordinator at the Council ( (Tel:0117 903 6898), to see what are the opportunities and where your skills could be best used. These are informal groups so meeting up will depend on the availability of everyone in the group.
4) Helping an organisation which has successfully received a grant from the Wellbeing Budget to carry out a project in our neighbourhood
The partnership has a fund for small grants to organisations which are trying to make a difference to the local area. The successful organisations will be publicised through the Partnership and through this website. You could be already involved with an organisation which has an idea which may interest the Partnership (see the article Wellbeing grants available). Or you might feel you have some time or experience which would help an organisation carry out its project – most organisations never have enough volunteers!
5) Attending Neighbourhood Partnership meetings as a local resident
Again as a local resident, you are invited to attend these meetings which are normally in the early evening. They are at least quarterly.
These meetings are currently chaired by a local resident. All six councillors try to attend and the rest of the Partnership are local residents and representatives from community organisations.
There is a formal agenda which can be viewed on the Council website beforehand. Although the style of meeting is informal, and where appropriate members of the public are invited to make comment, this is a legal part of the Council structure. So it is worth reading the papers beforehand as some of the matters can be technical. If you wish to make a representation about an issue, then contact Johanna Holmes ( ) beforehand who will explain what to do.
All the Council decisions about public expenditure has to be done in public so this is your chance to see how budgets devolved to the Partnership is spent. It is an opportunity for you to comment and feed back your views on how it is done, and about the decisions made.
6) Being co-opted as a local resident on to the Neighbourhood Partnership
If you wish to be more active in the work of the Partnership, you can apply for one of the three seats reserved for local residents. One of the reasons for having a Neighbourhood Partnership structure is that it would become a hub for the development of a better quality of life for local people. You may have a skill or interest which would contribute to the success of the Partnership, or some in-depth knowledge of your local community. You would be expected to contribute some time to one of the subgroups, as well as attend and participate in the Committee meetings. Have a look on the Council website where you can look at past minutes of meetings, so you can get a feel for the issues which the Partnership tackles.
7) Representing a Community Group on the Neighbourhood Partnership
The activity of community groups is key to the success of the Partnership: they often have access to the views of a membership of local people and frequently are involved in projects and activities which improve people’s lives. There are eight seats for community groups. Each year the Councillors will select which group would have a seat – they are keen to ensure that over time the Partnership membership is not static and includes a wide range of interests.
So if you are part of a community group which feels it is can contribute something to the Partnership, then contact Johanna Holmes ( ). It is expected that not only has your group a written constitution or set of rules and is accountable to its membership but also that the representative is happy to take a broad interest in the whole work of the Partnership, not just their own organisation’s immediate interests. There is a time commitment to attend the Committee meetings and carry out work in between, but there are lots of positives: meeting a wide range of people within and with other Partnerships, taking advantage of relevant Council training events; learning more about how local services work and how they can be more relevant in the future.