@ToxtethTV runs a Community Reporter Programme with @LHTHousing

Liverpool Housing Trust (LHT) tenants hit the ground running when they started an LHT funded Community Reporter course. The reporters interviewed and filmed fellow tenants on the subject of welfare reform. See here for the full article.

This programme is being run by Toxteth TV one of our social licencee holders (check out their fantastic content site here).  This is great news and really shows how the reporter programme can create income for organisations. Reporters will also become members of the Institute of Community Reporters a fast growing network of reporters across the UK.

If you would like more information on the Institute of Communtiy Reporters or the social licence network, please contact gary@peoplesvoicemedia.co.uk or check out this short animated film here.

Year of Health and Well Being – Some great stories from @VSNWnews listen, value and invest

Voluntary Sector North West  have a great idea.  They have created a web site Listen Value and Invest  to  share  stories, and ask decision-makers to commit to real action to listen to, value and invest in the Third Sector. They  say “As Big Society becomes the big news for the third sector, against a backdrop of financial cuts, we are asking the government and statutory agencies to listen to, value and invest in individuals, communities and the third sector”

The site really highlights some of the great work being carried out and there are loads of great stories.  I have highlighted just  3 films that were produced  for  work being carried out in the Heath and Well Being sector

Good News Stories from Communities

Its not often that we hear about “good news” stories  from communities.  The community reporter programme goal is to give voice to communities in order to challenge perspectives and so that people can describe their own reality. They have produced some great  “good news” stories about communities . Here are just a few examples:

One of the reporters in 3VTV  South Wales Jesscia Jones has produced a great film on looking at the positive side of  Blaenau Gwent.  Its great to here the “good news” stories from communities and not just the negatives.

Also take a look at this great film from Frank about a community reborn

and another one showing the positive perception  of Salford

Is there such a thing as a ‘typical’ Community Reporter?

I am often asked about our Community Reporters – who they are, where they come from, a typical motivation for wanting to create and share content. So when I saw the following posts from one Community Reporter I thought it would be an interesting way to explore what, if anything, is ‘typical’ about our reporters.

Phil is a Salford resident who is heavily involved in his local community and does a lot for the good of the groups he’s involved with. He recently started to post content to the Community Reporter site and already we can see a real diversity of interests and motivations.

Take his piece on the Manchester club, Band on the Wall that was hosting an over 50’s disco. This piece is really personal, anecdotal and shows someone interested in having a good time.

Then there’s a piece on the group Start in Salford – a mental health charity that does excellent work supporting people to well-being through arts and crafts. Phil visited the stall they had at the Christmas markets selling high quality pieces that group members have made over the year. This piece demonstrates someone with a passion and committment to the important work done by charities in communities.

And finally, another post by Phil, this time exploring the campaign started by a NHS consultant Dr Kalash Chad who is worried about the cuts to the NHS. Here is a considered, balanced and heartfelt piece about the campaign and their call to action for people to get involved.

These three posts clearly demonstrate to me what we tell new Community Reporters all the time – the tools are the least interesting part of what it means to be a reporter. Learning to blog or edit or create podcasts is just a means to an end. The exciting part is the stories that people have to tell – about their lives and the lives of their communities. Phil’s posts show me someone who is really alive and engaged and thoughtful – and inspired by social, civic and political stimulus. And maybe this, if anything, is what we might call the most ‘typical’ of Community Reporters.

Visit the Community Reporter site and subscribe to Phil’s channel (salfordhart) to receive more posts as they’re uploaded.

How does housing associations and organisations working together build better communities?

HACT (Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust) launched their “Together for Communities” report last week, a summary of learning from 12 projects that have been exploring how housing providers could provide practical assistance and development support to independent community-owned and led organisations, described as “community anchors”, working in more deprived neighbourhoods.

“Efforts to transform our neighbourhoods must be rooted in the experiences of the people who live there”

“The provision of housing must be about more than just bricks and mortar – social housing providers are at their most successful when they value and engage with their communities and actively seek to identify and meet the needs of those at the margins.”

Learning from the project almost exactly mirrors our experience at People’s Voice Media in delivering Community Reporter Programmes and running consultations and engagement exercises within housing associations.

It was interesting to read that the research found partnerships created between housing providers and community based groups were:

  • Sustainable – Even in the current economic difficulties, housing associations, with both assets and a secure revenue stream are amongst the most robust and sustainable organisations in the social enterprise, voluntary and community sectors.
  • Replicable – Housing associations and community anchors exist in pretty well every corner of the UK.
  • Accountable – Housing associations have systems in place to ensure transparency – adequate consultation, tenant empowerment and effective governance which can benefit wider partnerships; community groups often have close and direct links to the communities they serve.
  • Complementary – Most housing associations are not primarily involved in community development. Community anchors are not primarily housing organisations. But together each can benefit financially and organisationally.
  • Innovative – Inter trading between partners can be important – the energy and imagination shown by the community anchors and the social entrepreneurs at their heart is impressive; many housing associations are also led by individuals whose entrepreneurial skills offer significant opportunities for joint working.

It’s always good to read findings like these in black and white as it’s something we’ve also found from working in partnership with housing associations and community organisations, jointly developing solutions that best fit their needs.

The full report can be found at http://hact.org.uk/hact-launches-the-final-report-from-the-together-for-communities-project.

There’s an example of some of our work with housing associations in this video:

Let’s use community reporting to tell some Community Sector Tales

Urban Forum – a national charity that supports communities to have a greater say over decisions that affect them – is looking for audio, video and photo content that tells stories about life in the voluntary and community sector. The perfect challenge for all community reporters out there!

They’ve got some key questions for people taking part…

  • How are you responding to the changes that are going on all around us?
  • What differences are policy and funding changes having on your work?
  • How are you responding to the challenges and are you finding that there are opportunities too?

So get your thinking caps on, your cameras out and get reporting! Make sure you add the tag #VCStales to anything you put online.

Find out more at http://www.urbanforum.org.uk/vcs-tales/community-sector-tales.

Taking the step from communication to effective dialogue

Good communication isn’t just about sending out newsletters or being on the other end of the phone but is about ongoing, meaningful dialogue between communities and local government.

NCVO (National Council for Voluntary Organisations) have written a “Best Practice Guide: For Local Authorities and the Voluntary and Community Sector” (.pdf)

The guide sets out how local councils can support voluntary and community organisations in light of the cuts to their budgets. Supporting the sector isn’t just about giving them money for existing projects or contracting them to deliver public services. It can also (as suggested in the report) take the form of in-kind support, skilling up the sector, encouraging partnerships or collaborative budgeting.

The last of the suggestions, and the one that caught my eye, was around enabling communication.

Effective communication is vital at a time when organisations need to know what is happening with public budgets and the delivery of services but you can also extend this into how councils and organisations/ communities work together on an ongoing basis.

The great thing about using technology to communicate is that in financial terms it’s free. The equipment is very low cost – if people don’t have it on their phones already – and the process of listening and responding to these stories is also free. What it does take is a change in attitude and behaviour to make the best use of. That is something that PVM is doing all of the time with its work with public bodies, housing associations and other types of organisations working with communities.

In 2009 we worked with residents in Broughton (a part of Salford) to use community reporting as a way of finding out what residents felt about living in the area. If you watch this video you’ll see that it’s giving a voice to the people that aren’t traditionally heard in consultations, meaning the people commissioning services can deliver something that will really make a difference.