Cheshire East Council’s cabinet members have approved a new approach to engaging with communities across the borough and supporting their development.
The ‘Connected Communities’ approach has been developed as a two-way partnership between the council and Cheshire East’s communities to improve wellbeing and self-reliance, as well as reduce social isolation.
It has five key themes within it:
· Connected to people – helping people in communities to become more connected to others;
· Connected to services – delivering services differently, with more community outreach services;
· Connected to neighbourhoods – strengthening networks and partnerships across neighbourhoods, towns and villages;
· Connected to voluntary, community and faith (VCF) sector organisations – developing the VCF sector infrastructure and our links to thematic communities; and
· Connected to decision making – local people influencing decision making, policy and the way we commission services.
Councillor Rachel Bailey, leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “Local people are rightly proud of Cheshire East. We know it is a fabulous place to live, work and visit and we want to work with our communities to make it even better and sustain that success into the future.
“If we work together we can make sure we have the right services, in the right places.
“We are committed to investing in community work and believe that, by developing our approach to engaging with and supporting its development, we can ensure we maximise potential and generate wealth, helping all our communities to become more enterprising and enabling more deprived areas to lift themselves out of dependence.”
The council is also making a ‘deal’ with communities and has committed to a series of pledges.
In exchange, the council wants residents and communities to make their own pledges, including that they will support volunteering, report any concerns, develop skills and connect with the people around them.
Councillor Paul Bates, cabinet member for communities and health at Cheshire East Council, said: “A genuinely sustainable future for our communities means ensuring that we live within the limits of the resources available to us. This is a huge challenge and requires new ways of working and a commitment from residents, businesses and services to work together and to be innovative and creative.
“Cheshire East has had, from its start, a strong commitment to developing strong communities, so this new approach focuses on how we can best lead our communities forward to future prosperity.”
Activity involved in Connected Communities includes a participatory budgeting pilot, which sees local residents and community groups discussing spending priorities, making spending proposals and voting on them.
It also includes support for town partnerships and the establishment of mentoring programmes and groups that tackle issues such as social isolation.
In Crewe there is a pilot ‘Neighbourhood Action’ initiative, which it’s anticipated will be extended to the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods across the borough. There are also volunteer ‘community connectors’, who listen to other residents and support them to address local issues.