Providing services that fully support the local communities in which we work is extremely important to us, and is an area we’ve been focusing on in more detail over the last year, despite the pandemic.
To meet the needs of customers, we know we have to spend more time putting ourselves in their shoes. It’s also important we reach out to them when it comes to building upon existing community groups and support and develop new ways in which we can help people and services to shape the community around them. By working together with our residents and the wider local community, we know together we can make a positive difference – and our Horninglow and Eton Community Mapping Project is a prime example of this.
Since July last year, we’ve been running our community mapping project in Horninglow and Eton in Burton. It’s an area where we’ve been working in for several years. The community mapping project is spearheaded by our dedicated Community Officer, Annie Bhogal, who joined The Community Engagement Team at the start of the first lockdown.
“We chose this area because we’re already involved with the local community. There’s an active residents’ association there that we work closely with, and there’s the local Kingfisher Project and our community garden at Beresford Close,” Annie explains.
“Our community mapping work is aimed at building upon the strong existing services such as the Kingfisher Project and offering local people the opportunity to get involved in their community and share their view of what they want to see in their area.”
Residents’ feedback and involvement sits at the heart of the mapping exercise.
One of Annie’s first tasks when she first started 15 months ago was to create and send out a community survey to 1,000 properties across Horninglow and Eton. The survey, which asked residents key questions in relation to themselves, their community, health and wellbeing and employment and local involvement, was distributed in December last year.
“There are lots of different strands to the project, but one of the main elements is listening to what people want from us and the area in which they live. For instance, what services are already in place and are there any gaps in provision? Do people know what’s happening on their doorstep, and if not, how can we change this so that they do?,” explains Annie.
“Inviting people to complete our survey is the first step in enabling us to further understand what really matters to local residents.”
Residents were asked questions, including:
- How do you feel about living in the Horninglow and Eton area?
- Does it have safe and accessible areas to walk, run or cycle?
- How much do you think loneliness and feeling isolated is a problem for Horninglow residents?
Top level findings from the survey revealed:
- 67% of residents would recommend Horninglow and Eton to family and friends.
- 53% would like to meet new people.
- 47% think isolation and loneliness is an issue.
- 34% would like more hobby and interest clubs.
- 33% think a community café would benefit the area.
- 39% are behind having a befriending service.
Annie and her colleagues within the Community Engagement Team have been quick to act upon the survey feedback, particularly in relation to people feeling isolated and improving communication about what is going on in the area and local services on hand.
The Eton Forum, led by Trent & Dove
One key change has been the creation of the Horninglow and Eton Forum, led by Trent & Dove. This brings together local and regional groups who provide services in the area, so everyone is clear about what each other offers and knows where to direct residents to. So far 20 groups are represented.
“One of the main things that came out of the survey is that people don’t know what’s happening in their area, so we’ve just held a community drop-in event at The Red Lion House Community Centre where people were put directly in touch with the local groups and services. The session was a good opportunity for people to tell us what’s missing and what they’d really like to get involved with in the future,” explains Annie.
“Another key finding was the need for more activities for young people in the evening. We’ve since worked with Burton Albion Community Trust and Dizzy Heights to address the issue with the former now running boxing sessions for young people at the Burton Boxing Club and Dizzy Heights setting up a weekly youth club."
On-going mapping work
As part of the on-going mapping work, Annie and her colleagues are exploring ways to further reach out to and engage with families from ethnic minority groups within the area. In the meantime, they are also working hard to help tackle an issue that’s not just come to light across Horninglow and Eton but is a UK-wide issue that’s become more apparent throughout the pandemic.
“As we all know, loneliness is an issue across all communities, with the recent lockdowns really adding to and highlighting the problem. As part of our mapping work, we’re already reaching out to people and asking them what they would like to get involved with, which could include access to certain groups or support, which will hopefully help them feel less isolated."
“We’ve also set up a befriending service that’s delivered some fantastic community-led activities for adults and children, including afternoon tea, BBQs, face painting and story time sessions at our sheltered schemes and within the wider community this summer,” says Annie.
“Despite the pandemic and being in lockdown we’ve managed to take some positive steps forward since we started the project. Understanding what residents need is a key part of the equation. We’re now focused on keeping the momentum going and continuing to work closely with everybody to bring Horninglow and Eton even closer together.”
For more information about the project, contact 01283 528528 or email email@example.com