Every three months or so, I share my thoughts on local area progress with you as residents as your Big Local Rep and with the central team managing the national programme. Your comments and thoughts are always welcome.
The big picture
The Big Local community got a boost in the autumn. We benefited from continuing partnership face to face meetings and the opening up of activities and events. And Big Local Connects went ahead in late October in Nottingham, bringing together 117 of 150 Big Local areas, with nearly 400 people taking part. There was joy in reunion, sharing experiences and learning, including about how communities had pulled together during the worst of Covid. You can hear some of the highlights through Chris Allen’s radio broadcasts. The four Big Local national Connects events (last year’s being via Zoom) have greatly strengthened the joint purpose across Big Local, validating the power and effectiveness of resident-led decision making.
Evidence is growing of what it takes to establish and to sustain resident-led change. These include crucial resident leadership, consistent support of the legally accountable body, the Local Trusted Organisation, and the role of the paid worker to help co-ordinate activity. One of the massive spin offs or added value is the growth in Big Local areas of volunteering. Not just through the partnership but through increased activity of groups and projects it supports and funds.
A review of the last three months has to start with the storming success of the development and launch of the Boston Monopoly game in December. Boston Big Local created the concept, developed the ideas and managed the project throughout, funding 83% of it, with Boston Borough Council backing it and contributing 17%. Close on 1,500 games were distributed to 14 designated local charities and groups for them to sell at £30 each, raising £44,500 much needed local funds. This model has generated much interest locally and across the Big Local community.
All this of course while the partnership continued with the regular business of approving funding to Community Chest and events applicants and to regular groups benefiting residents: the Stitchers, the Woodcarvers, BOSFIT, Samaritans, Boston in Bloom, Five Lamps, LCVS volunteering environmental work, Broadfield Lane Play equipment, CAB, the Credit Union and Memory Lane. In addition, the partnership scrutinised and supported new bids, including £10,000 for the Christmas in Boston group for lights and the Lithuanian inter-generational Christmas event.
The annual partnership review indicated four key elements working well together: sound leadership underpinned by clear vision and values; effective management of contracts, funding and reporting; positive action and activity to the benefit of residents through close working with key delivery partners; and ever improving communications with a wider cross-section of residents, including through hard copy newsletter delivered to every home, web and social media presence.
Hopefully some of the Boston Big Local partnership will take a breather in the New Year after the Monopoly launch but I somehow doubt they will. There are already discussions about ordering the next run of games and how Boston Borough Council might take over the running of the project. And the next round of quarterly monitoring reports is due in January and the next newsletter will be out in the spring.