Our vision is that Essex has strong, resilient communities of active citizens who are willing and able to take responsibility for themselves, each other and the places they live. We want every community in Essex to have an active network of ‘people helping people’ with the aim of;

  • Supporting vulnerable people
  • Preventing what the community agrees is damaging eg crime, loneliness
  • Promoting what the community wishes to encourage eg safety, social cohesion
  • Reducing demand on public services

The Strengthening Communities Programme will achieve this through;

  • Redefining the relationship between wider civil society, the voluntary, community, business and public sectors
  • Better coordination of partners’ interventions and schemes
  • Focusing on communities’ and individuals’ assets and strengths, not just needs
  • Understanding and influencing public attitudes and behaviour around active citizenship and strong communities

There is a growing body of research which outlines the importance of building strong and resilient communities.  You can find some of this research in the uploaded files section to the right,  with some of the highlights below.

  • The New Economics Foundation found that for every £1 invested, £3 is generated in social value.
  • 'Unlocking Local Capacity', a paper commissioned by the Office of Public Management, argues that active communities require active councils, and only by 'unlocking' local capacity can we hope to transform service delivery and improve the lives of our residents.

This research, together with a range of consultative and engagement exercises across Essex, led to the formation of an original works programme with a cross-partner team formed by members from organisations across Essex who are responsible for delivering the Project.

Please note that this is a summary of our work, for further information and details please see the 'files' section located at the side of the page. (there isn’t a section on the right? )

Volunteering

This work stream will stimulate individual and reciprocal activity across Essex: strengthening existing volunteering activity, developing new volunteering activity, and targeting this activity to where it is most needed. This will have the benefits of improved connections across communities, ensuring that individuals hold a sense of collective responsibility for action on local issues and feel supported and valued in volunteer.

Time Bank

TimeBank is a national volunteering charity, formed in 2000. As a national network, they recruit and train volunteers to deliver mentoring projects to tackle complex social problems. They also work with businesses to engage their staff in volunteering.

This workstream is developing reciprocal giving mechanisms across Essex. Timebanking facilitates exchanges of time between Time Bank members, generating time credits. One time credit = one hour of time spent giving support within the community. The exchange may be skills based (i.e. languages, gardening, DIY) or may simply be an interpersonal activity (i.e. befriending someone, sharing experiences).

Exchanges can take place between individuals, within groups or within organisations.  Hours once generated can then be spent receiving support or donated to other community members to use. The workstream is building upon the work of Colchester Time Bank and has begun to establish banks in West Essex, as well as capacity build work in Tendring.  Further work across the county is being prepared. Find out more about Time Bank Uttlesford.

Community Builders (including Asset Based Community Development)

This programme created and improved connections between individuals and across communities, as well as building a better understanding of the communities ability to find local solutions for local problems. As part of this work stream Asset Based Community Development, or ABCD, was undertaken across Essex to help identify and develop existing resources, abilities and insights available to local communities.

Keeping you informed

This page will be regularly updated with information from the Strengthening Communities Project. At the right hand side of this page (under the files section) you can view a range of documents that provide detailed information on our proposals and our progress.

You can also keep up-to-date with our progress with a bi-monthly newsletter published by the Project. For more information on the weekly update go here where the bi-monthly newsletter will be uploaded to this page when released.

Alternatively, you can contact the Strengthening Communities Project by:

Email:

publicservicereformunit@essex.gov.uk

Post:

Public Service Reform Unit, C315, County Hall, Chelmsford, Essex, CM1 1AX.