Improving community cohesion with Normacot United
The area of Normacot was a policing hotspot due to various different ASB issues, which resulted in a task to finish, group being formed. My Community Matters were invited by the Police to work closely with them and to support partners and residents in breaking down barriers, building trust and cohesion within the community.
What happened next?
Following on from the task and finish group it was decided that new interventions needed to be put in to place. A community walkabout took place with partners and residents.
The local Police Inspector encouraged a neighbourhood Police officer and PCSO to attend a Connecting Communities (C2) learning programme. They were accompanied by three officers from the City Council and residents. The C2 model aims to make neighbourhoods healthier, sustainable and a better place in which to live and work through a resident led partnership approach.
This opportunity encouraged new ways of thinking and promoted new interventions being introduced in to Normacot. Following on from this a learning exchange took place with partners and residents from Glasgow. Common themes and concerns evident it strengthened the belief that changes could be made within Normacot by embracing this new way of working.
We now started to use the C2 model by hosting two community listening and feedback events. The residents identified and prioritised their local issues and this formed an action plan for the neighbourhood.
Normacot benefits from a very diverse community where over 40 different languages are spoken. It was suggested by the partnership to have an International Day to bring all nationalities together to help begin to address the cohesion issues. The day was a success however it was apparent to the partnership that the Eastern European families were still reluctant to participate. It was clear that a communication channel needed to be opened along with an action plan between them and the wider community to ensure that they knew where and how to access the help and support that they needed.
My Community Matters through the local schools used these communication methods to reach the Eastern European families and, along with partners including Police, Local MP, City Council held some engagement and information sessions to help identify the key problems. From this, some of the common themes emerged, housing, benefits and health.
The Police introduced My Community Matters to Nash Dom CIC they shared similar values and were willing to be involved in Normacot. They are an Eastern European and Russian Speaking Community Coalition based in Birmingham. They offer a translation service and independent, impartial and confidential advice on rights and responsibilities as well as information on topics such as health, housing and welfare. They also train community members to become volunteers and help continue the service delivery.
My Community Matters arranged for Nash Dom to provide a drop in service to take place once a month along with walkabouts to addresses the needs of the Eastern European community. This allowed them to ask questions, raise issues and find out about different services available in the area.
The translation service has helped us to intervene on potential issues as early as possible, respond to individual needs and situations and consequently, reduce health inequalities. Most importantly the families are now engaging in community activities
“We have a growing Eastern European community, there was a lot of mistrust towards authority, since starting the drop ins things have improved but there is still more work to be done”
Also over a three year period there have been cook and eats, keep fit and relaxation sessions, Eastern European disco, sports day, sewing classes, craft sessions and community health checks, joint partnership events.