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Applying your community engagement skills
Applying your community engagement skills

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6 Empowering communities

There is a community centre that is located in a 1970s-style shopping area that contains a small set of shops, including a GP practice, pharmacy and a mini-supermarket. There is a much larger supermarket a mile further down the road.

For years now the local community centre has been a hub of the community. The centre regularly hosts all sorts of meetings and events, from parent and toddler groups to active retirees. It has also recently been used by members of new communities in the area to gather and host cultural events. These events are always well attended and underline the Community Centre’s place as an open and welcoming environment at the heart of the community.

Of late, however, the community centre has been attracting the wrong kind of attention. Anti-social behaviour has been spilling over from the nearby shops, particularly late at night. On a number of occasions the alarm has been activated by people trying to break into the centre, though thankfully these attempts have not been successful. It has also become more and more common for used syringes to be found in the doorway to the centre when people arrive in the mornings.

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Figure 7 Drug use

Leading members of the community are keen to take some appropriate action, but they are really at a loss as to what to do in order to make a positive, lasting impact on the situation. In simple terms, they are unsure what they can do and also unsure whether they have authority to do anything to help improve the situation.

They have now turned to you as a trusted member of the community for support and guidance.

Activity 7 Residents’ association meeting

You have been asked to address the next meeting of the residents’ association which is due to take place at the community centre. The chair of the residents’ association has asked if you might draw upon your own experience working in the community to provide some insights into how the community can be empowered to more effectively deal with crime and anti-social behaviour.

In preparing this you should refer back to the Empowering communities [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] course to inform your thinking. You should also spend some time reviewing and considering the comments made in the following clip by Jane Roberts, previously Leader of Camden Borough Council in London.

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Video: Jane Roberts
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Reflect on the interview. How do the interview answers help guide your preparation.

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Jane Roberts shares her insights into some of the challenges and opportunities of empowering communities. Jane particularly highlights the importance of communities being given the opportunity to take ownership of their local challenges, though with the support and engagement of relevant authorities. In her discussion of ASBOs, Jane also highlights the important role that local authorities can play in putting in place structured responses to issues that might emerge locally, in a way that individual residents or even groups of residents might not be able to do.