Communities Together is a community development project in north Pembrokeshire. It’s a project about facing up to alcohol issues in our communities – but one that didn’t begin with questions about alcohol at all.
Here in Wales, much like our neighbours across the British Isles, we don’t always have the healthiest relationship with alcohol. Doctors and public health workers have been telling us for decades to cut back. It’s a simple message, but in our complicated lives it’s not always an easy one to follow.
Telling people to live healthier lives doesn’t work. But what happens if we ask people what good health would look like for them? The pioneering American alcohol researcher Dr Harold Holder has urged “the well-intentioned people who introduce programmes into communities”, to engage with the community, relinquish control, and be prepared for things to happen in “unexpected ways”. That’s exactly what we did. Poetry, football, and ballroom dancing have been just some of the “unexpected” outcomes.
We believe that we’ve created a new paradigm for getting to grips alcohol issues in our communities. To find out more, contact the Project Manager,
What role do complementary currencies play in alleviating poverty, creating income equality, and building sustainable communities? According to John Boik, a vital one. Founder of the Principled Societies Projectand author of the book Economic Direct Democracy: A Framework to End Poverty and Maximize Well-Being, Boik designed a multi-faceted framework for local democratic systems of which a complementary currency is a key element. A computer simulation model that describes the book’s proposed local-national currency system saw median and mean take-home family income more than double, income inequality nearly eliminated, and the unemployment rate drop to 1 percent over the 28-year simulation period. Shareable connected with Boik to learn more about his framework, the role that the complementary currency plays in it, and what needs to happen for real-world application of the model.
Spice, the social enterprise dedicated to developing agency timebanking systems, has published a two year evaluation of their time credits model. Results suggest that time credits have a positive impact on individuals and communities with 65% of Spice members reporting that their quality of life has improved; 45% of people saying they feel healthier and 49% less isolated. The evaluation also found that time credits are an effective way of engaging new people in their communities and generating more active citizenship and participation, as well as helping to create a more regular and reliable volunteer base.
Communities First is a Welsh Government programme targeting Wales’ highest areas of deprivation. It aims to support communities across three themes – learning, health and prosperity. Its aim is to reduce inequalities in Wales experienced by individuals living in these communities by providing increased opportunities to access learning, improve health and maintain a living income.
One ECLP (East Cardiff, Llanedeyrn and Pentwyn) Communities First project has created a team of ‘Health Champions’ and aims to build closer connections between health services and communities so as to achieve better health outcomes. When people have a greater awareness of where they can seek help, for example with stopping smoking or their mental health, it allows them to feel enabled and part of the solution. We began the “Health Champions” project to both work with active community members who have an interest in health issues, and to train them to ensure the information they provide to the wider community is reliable and consistent. This approach means that local people get key messages and helpful advice from those they trust and avoids any barriers that may exist to accessing traditional health services.
Following identification of the interests and needs of the group we have put together a training package focusing on the issues that matter most in their area. Over a period of six weeks, a range of providers including Public Health Wales, Stop Smoking Wales, Screening Services and Cardiff MIND (a mental health charity) presented key information on healthy lifestyles and choices to the group. The training package helped the group to gain a broader understanding of health issues and how to support and signpost people who need help, but it also gave them an opportunity to consider what more they wanted to do in the role. Since the training began in spring 2014, it has led to the Health Champions being involved in the following:
. Organising community events with our support
. Supporting our range of activities through volunteering
. Making a short presentation on health messages at Wales’ Patient Information Forum conference
. Some accredited training in a health-related subject
. Becoming qualified tutors for our nutrition projects
More information on ECLP Communities First can be found at eclp.org.uk/voices. If you would like to find out more about this project in particular, please contact Helen Green, 07969 185037 or Helen.G@c3sc.org.uk.
By Luke Price, Community Links
“It is important to challenge the prevailing ethos that ‘cutting the benefits *bill*’ is a good idea. We need to return to and re-evaluate the underpinning principles of our social security system and see it as an *investment*: in individuals, in communities and, ultimately, in the whole of our society.”
“Cities of Service is about helping to funnel the passion of local volunteers into areas most in need of support in their own communities.” Over the next 18 months Barnsley, Bristol, Kirklees, Plymouth, Portsmouth, Swindon, and Telford and Wrekin will use their status as Cities of Service to encourage local volunteers to play their part in tackling some of the most pressing issues in their cities – replicating the highly successful US model founded by the former Mayor of New York City Michael Bloomberg.
“It’s time to think about the effect of our environment on human beings, and [seize] our responsibility as designers. The [contemporary] city has been built as a machine, for production. We built a society that in fact is not social, a society of individuals without connection, and the spaces where they live don’t allow them to make any real connections. If you [compare this with] the ancient towns, you will notice a difference. It’s typical in a small Italian town for the elders who went to the modern towns to want to come back. Because they can, for example, sit down and start talking to other people. If they need somebody, they can ask for help. Of course, we can’t go back to the past, we can’t build again what has been built by another society, another economy. But we can learn something. We want to build a contemporary architecture, a contemporary urbanism that uses contemporary materials, but that pays attention to these aspects as very relevant. (…) Recycling space, bringing it back to the quality of “place,” is not an expensive operation. [It’s] not about concrete, trucks, and big money. Beauty is a matter of relationships.”
Related link – RSA paper: Developing Socially Productive Places