Democratic engagement begins at the very local level, and this project in Coventry aims to increase the involvement of people at a neighbourhood and ward level, helping the Council and their partners to find better ways to work with and involve residents. The aim is to create better and more cost-effective services and to develop new ways for the council and residents to collaborate.
While the vision is to do this city wide, The Democratic Society, Mutual Gain and Involve are starting small, trying different activities in different neighbourhoods. We will explore different methods which allow us to understand what does and doesn’t work and what barriers need to be overcome.
As you’d expect, different ideas and process are emerging in each location. We’re very keen not to impose topics for discussion, so we’ve been working with communities in each of the locations to explore what these projects should look like.
Residents in Cheylesmore are exploring how they like to share and connect digitally, while in Hillfields a process of “appreciative inquiry” has been taking place. In Earlsdon we’re still exploring what might be discussed, and in WEHM we’ve started a conversation between service providers and the council. We will be inviting partners to have an honest conversation about the physical assets they can offer. In Foleshill we started with a suggestion of bringing together the active citizens in to a network to share skills and physical assets, but have shifted towards exploring what residents and the Partnership for Coventry can do to improve their local parks.
These projects will also build the foundations for future work across the entire city, and will build towards a Citizen’s Panel event taking place in the autumn of 2016, bringing together citizens in a Citizen’s Panel event to explore the cultural strategy currently being drafted by the Council and partners.
The Democratic Society are lead partners for this project commissioned by the Partnership for Coventry, the Local Strategic Partnership for Coventry representing partners from the public, private, community and voluntary sectors.