My Town, My Community and My Vision

This was a pilot project, hosted by SWF and supported by Investing in Communities (EEDA), Hertfordshire Black Minority Ethnic Partnership (HBMEP) and Stevenage Borough Council. Conducted between September 2006 and March 2007, the sessions within this project were held specifically to encourage the Black and Minority Ethnic communities living in Stevenage to participate in the planning of their vision for Stevenage; one where their specific needs as a community are met.

Two sessions were held, the first on 1st March 2007 between 12.30pm and 4.00pm and the second was held on the 14th March 2007 between 5.00pm and 8.30pm. Each session was 3.5 hours long with the first half hour being a buffet where participants could meet, eat, mingle and network with each other before the work sessions began.

The sessions centred on discussions of issues that affect the various different communities and how each group could participate and contribute in shaping the future of Stevenage.

The aims of the sessions were to:

  • Engage and increase the knowledge and awareness amongst local minority ethnic residents and groups about Local Strategic Partnerships (LSP) and the Community Strategy.
  • Encourage the Black, Minority and Ethnic (BME) communities to participate in the LSP process.
  • Increase BME communities' knowledge of how to become involved in LSP and the Community Strategy.
  • Increase the number of individuals from BME groups who may not be currently involved.
  • Open dialogue with participants on their understanding of Stevenage Partnership (LSP) and the Community Strategy
  • Involve partners from Stevenage Partnership
  • Seek out opportunities for future partnership working and joint funding for BME partnership to support the capacity and development of local minority ethnic groups.
  • Create stronger BME network through sharing good practice on engaging BME communities.

A number of tools were used to achieve the target of 50 participants at each event. This included local radio, press, web site releases and email alerts; advertising in a local free publication; newsletter and updates produced by Stevenage Partnership; and printed flyers which were distributed through as many avenues as possible.

Generally, both sessions were successful as there was attendance and participation from the target groups. Several points were similar to both sessions:

  • Partners in the Stevenage Partnership who attended the sessions were enlightened to what needs were important to the BME communities in Stevenage and gained invaluable ideas to what they could do to fulfil those needs.
  • All were appreciative that the event went on as per scheduled and ended on time in the time frame indicated.
  • Raised the profile of SWF and other opportunities on offer but there was a need for groups to communicate with SWF.

What was highlighted as a result of these sessions was that in order to create more awareness of the Stevenage Partnership within the BME communities in Stevenage, more similar targeted events need to be held, bearing in mind the issues of language transport and accessibility

This pilot project proved that communications with and participation by the BME groups, which were previously thought difficult, can be achieved through holding targeted events with the correct mix of incentives. This includes:

  • Local BME infrastructure organisation with support.
  • Local elected members of Borough Council.
  • Local activists from community groups to encourage attendance.
  • Local businesses from BME sector.