Our aim is to turn neighbourhoods from simply areas of housing to thriving communities
Skills for Sustainable Regeneration
Our main way of doing this is to use education as a tool to encourage people to become active citizens. We target neighbourhoods, usually ones high on the Index of Deprivation, and deliver programmes of training in community centres and village halls.
Our training programmes usually have an environmental focus as we believe that all communities need to work towards sustainability for us to avoid runaway climate change. Topics we have therefore delivered training on have included local and organic food growing; renewable energy sources; waste reduction, reuse, and recycling; eco-housing; and green transport.
Other training subjects have reflected on how communities can have a greater say over different matters including models of neighbourhood democracy (residents associations, parish councils, neighbourhood forums); neighbourhood planning and building powers; protecting assets of community value; community-run public services; and neighbourhood crime prevention.
Our training sessions are highly informal, interactive with lots of group activities and discussions, and we aim to make them an interesting and enjoyable experience. We will follow up each training session with a workshop to bring together people with ideas for new campaigns and projects to discuss them further, perhaps firm up how they could be put into practice, and have the opportunity to collaborate with other who have similar ideas. Beyond this, we then mentor individuals and small groups to continue working on their ideas until they are ready to be made a reality including helping them to raise seed funding to trial their projects.
Our model of intervention has been successful with many spin-off initiatives over the years. These have included a website to map all the local food growers in Bradford; a youth music project in inner-city Bradford; campaigns to register various amenities as assets of community value; new residents associations being formed; community clean-up days; befriending schemes for older and vulnerable adults; and hard to recycle waste schemes.’
In modern Britain, being able to use a computer and the internet is as essential a skill as basic literacy or numeracy. Public services are now digital by default meaning there is an assumption that people can get online to access them. Whether you are applying for state benefits, a blue badge, bus pass, passport or even to reserve a library book, you need to know how to navigate the world wide web.
Research from Ofcom, the Good Things Foundation, Age UK and others has shown that older adults are disproportionately less likely to have the skills or confidence needed for this. Indeed, a high proportion do not own a computer or have internet access at home. And it is not just older people who are at disadvantage here: research by Indeed, the Lloyds Digital Consumer Index and other organisations has shown that a large number of adults of working age may own a smart phone and be able to use Facebook but they do not have the digital skills needed in the workplace. This is especially high for long-term renters of social housing.
Recognising this need, the Neighbourhood Project delivers digital skills tuition. We target older people and adults of working age who are social housing tenants. This is usually delivered as regular drop-in groups in community centres and village halls where people can either bring their own devices for support or try one of our tablet PCs, or in people’s homes on a one-to-one basis.