Communities Minister Stephen Williams MP today (14 April 2014) announced 123 more communities will be taking control of neighbourhood schemes to boost employment, combat crime and improve the health of residents.
The announcement signals a major expansion in the Our Place programme which is a neighbourhood level way of working that brings together the right people – councillors, public servants, voluntary and community organisations and the community themselves – to tackle local issues and revolutionise the way an area works.
Following the success of 12 pilot areas in 2012 to 2013, the Department of Communities and Local Government made £4.3 million of funding available to support at least 100 new areas to adopt this approach, through grants, direct support and shared learning opportunities.
The new areas cover between them a total population of 1.8 million and are looking at a wide range of issues including crime, health inequalities, energy efficiency, social isolation and employment and skills.
Stephen Williams made the announcement during a visit to Staple Hill, South Gloucestershire today (14 April 2014) where he learnt more about South Gloucester’s plans for their Our Place project and joined a meeting of local partners looking at solutions to local unemployment.
Staple Hill successfully applied to join the Our Place support programme as one of the 123 new areas – this project is led by South Gloucester Council for Voluntary Service and aims to empower local people in Staple Hill to become the solution to some of the issues the area faces. These include employment and skills, health, crime and issues facing young people.
During the visit, the minister learnt more about South Gloucester’s plans for their Our Place project and join a meeting of local partners looking at solutions to unemployment in the town.
Communities Minister Stephen Williams MP said:
I am delighted to be able to announce that 123 new areas are now being supported to work in an Our Place way. Strong examples from the pilot areas show that when a community is engaged and active in determining how their neighbourhood works, real change is possible. I am pleased that through Our Place, communities all over the country are hearing this message and taking up the challenge to build a stronger economy and fairer society and to tackle local issues through new ways of working.
It’s been great to visit Staple Hill and see for myself an Our Place project that is beginning to engage the whole community and form innovative solutions to local problems.
Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society said:
Using local knowledge to help solve local issues is often the most effective way of making communities stronger and safer. Our Place is about putting real power into people’s hands to improve where they live and I hope it will act as an inspiration to other communities.
Steve Wyler Chief Executive Officer of Locality said:
We’re looking forward to working with 123 areas from across England implementing using the Our Place approach to transform local public services. Community groups, local authorities, parish and town councils, and local businesses will work in partnership with local citizens to bring change to public service delivery. We relish the challenge of supporting these areas to produce development strategies and operational plans, to see local services where local people have taken charge in addressing the issues that matter the most to them, and to recruit champions who will help us share this model more widely.
Backed by a £4.3 million support package a consortium led by Locality is working with the department to help at least 100 communities to design and deliver local services that focus on local priorities and reduce costs. For example in Poplar, East London a volunteer ‘Health Champion’ programme (led by local housing and regeneration community association, Poplar HARCA), plans to save the NHS a potential £4 million over 5 years by promoting healthy lifestyles and improving treatment of those at risk of diabetes. Read more information on Our Place