4.1 Partnership and participation

Sharing power implies enabling citizens to participate in the shaping of their community. In the next activity, we explore one approach to enabling community participation.

Activity 3 Community mobilisers

Timing: (15 minutes)

Watch this video from the Community Mobiliser Team from Community Action: MK in which they talk about their work to mobilise citizens to contribute to the shaping of their communities.

Download this video clip.Video player: week7_powervideo_communityaction-1280x720.mp4
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Hi, I'm Josan. I'm the community mobiliser for Broughton Gate and Brooklands. In this film, we're going to explore how the people in the expansion areas have been settling into their new homes. We'll also take a look at the work that has been happening to support residents to become more actively involved in their new community.
Hannah is a local resident who we met about 18 months ago at a mums and tots group at Brooklands Farm School. With support from me, Hannah's become a key volunteer in her community. She's been involved with running so many new activities. Here, Hannah explains some of the projects she has been involved with.
I recently organised a big lunch for a street that I live in and met lots of new people. So from that, we then organised a local residents group, a running club, and have a number of parties going on throughout the year for kids and families.
With a grant from the New Communities Fund, Hannah has been able to run activities to bring her community together. What effect has being a volunteer had on her?
It has made a huge difference to me, getting involved with the community. This is somewhere that I want to stay for a long time, and my children are going to grow up. I've made lifelong friends and know that my children are in that safe environment. And it's a lovely place to live. And the difference it has made to my whole family and neighbours-- and people say-- you can't put it in words. It's just an amazing sense of belonging.
Another resident who we've been working with is Claire. Claire met me a year or so ago. Like Hannah, Claire has moved away from her existing support networks and wanted to get more involved in her community.
I think when you first move to a new town or city, it's really important to have a network around you. So I think the most important thing would be to have a good, friendly face that you can speak to. I think it's really helpful to have a point where people can go to just for a chat. Whether it's somewhere like the pavilion, which wasn't here when I first started, whether it's a school, whether it's a friendly face like Josan, I think that's really important.
Claire decided to take a more active role in her community and came to a meet at the parish councillor workshop at Community Action MK. She then went on to become a parish councillor and now represents her community to help give them a say in local issues.
I get approached by a lot of the residents. And the things that come up time and time again are GP services, they are the pavilion, and they are schools.
For Claire, volunteering has allowed her to feel more part of a community.
We moved from a little town, a little village in Essex. So I knew every other person that we went past. And I get the same feeling. Although I'm on the edge of a city, I feel like I'm in a little village.
We get people knocking at the door, asking for my children to go out to play, asking to come around. I can phone up most people on the street and ask them for some help, whether it's taking my kids to school, looking after the cat while we're away for a weekend. That type of feeling is something that I think is amazing, especially as part of a big city like Milton Keynes.
Volunteering is a vital first step in getting people more involved in their community. It gives people the confidence and skills to run their own activities and get involved in decisions which affect them. In 2015, we're planning to pilot a volunteer training programme which will support more residents to develop their skills and experiences in community work. We hope to develop a volunteer army who can run activities and services as our communities grow.
End transcript
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As you watch, ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do the mobilisers enable citizens to influence the way in which their community develops?
  • How might the work of the mobiliser team influence the council and other public sector organisations?
  • To what extent do you recognise the work of ‘mobilising’ as leadership as defined in Week 1 of this course? Copy this definition of leadership to your learning journal. [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]   Make notes about the key words from this definition that you recognise in the mobilisers’ accounts of practice. Make sure you title the post with the week number and the number of this activity, Week 7 Activity 3. Leadership is a collaborative, political and democratic practice  that provides direction, energy and critical engagement on issues that are made to matter.


The community mobilisers may not describe themselves as leaders, but we recognise leadership in their practice. They provide energy and engagement on issues that are important to local citizens. Their practice engages citizens with the political process, ensuring their voices are heard, as well as supporting citizens to shape their own community through the creation of residents’ associations, community activities, and support groups. They influence which issues emerge in the local area and which remain unexplored.

4 Collaboration and shared power

4.2 Power asymmetry