Tag Archives: Yoursquaremile

Voting leads to engagement – when it is about money

Getting a high turn out for local elections is tough … and usually even tougher for public meetings. Why bother – does it change anything?

On the other hand a lot of people will be interested in how money is spent in their neighbourhood. Could you link the money, voting and engagement?

It seems so, from a conversation I had at the recent Your Square Mile launch with Richard Edwards from Manton – an estate of some 6500 people in Worksop, Nottinghamshire. Richard works for Manton Community Alliance, which since 2006 has used participatory budgeting as a way to involve people in decisions about the future of their area. You can read a case study here.

As Richard explained, there’s nothing like walking down the street, and seeing a tag on the new litter bins showing that’s what you voted for, to demonstrate it is worth the effort.

Last year one in four people were involved in voting – and the secret of success has been to tailor the method to individual preferences, including knocking on doors, holding small group discussions, or using Facebook.

Richard says: The key thing is you have to suit your engagement method to people’s life style – if you don’t do that they are not going to take part.

The budgeting process has led to an increase in voting in local elections, and also shown an increase of people’s involvement in the area in some way, from a very low base to over 60 percent.

After listening to Richard I wondered whether a similar process might be appropriate on a wider scale. Why shouldn’t it be applied by the Big Lottery Fund, who supported Your Square Mile, and who grant millions of pounds each year to local groups?

I find that they do, as you’ll see from this link to the Big Decision page.

Channel 4 is following The Big Lottery Fund as it asks the British public how they would spend £10 million of lottery money. The results of this nationwide debate will help directly determine which projects or charities will benefit from a huge cash injection. You can follow the discussion on Twitter #C4BigDecision

What does this country need the most – more recycling, better educated youngsters, stronger community spirit or new investment in science?

If you were in charge of spending £10 million of lottery money to ensure it reaches the places and people who need it most, where would you spend it? Post your comments below.

On the page you can see video clips about five Millennium themes, and a real time discussion about people’s preferences.

The funding for Manton’s participatory budgeting runs out at the end of this year. I vote for them and other participatory budgeting projects to get some continuing support.

UpdateThe People’s Budget is a new campaign on participatory budgetting supported by the PB UnitChurch Action on Poverty, New StartJoseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and Urban Forum. Blog posts from Toby Blume and Julian Dobson.

Your Square Mile plans – and a live chat

I’ve just posted this interview about People Powered Change partner Your Square Mile on my personal site. Our Society is today hosting a live chat with YSM MD Jamie Cowen


Six months development work by the Your Square Mile programme came together yesterday with the launch in London of a new website to support local action, new pledges of cross-party support, and plans to create a citizens mutual organisation with millions of members.

You can catch up on the background to Your Square Mile on my earlier post here, including a talk though the site by YSM managing director Jamie Cowen.

Today at 1pm Jamie will engage in a live chat online hosted by Our Society here.

At yesterday’s launch we heard support from both Nick Hurd, Minister for Civil Society, and Tessa Jowell, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office, and from a couple of the 16 pilots YSM that has been supporting. YSM is a partner in the Big Lottery Fund People Powered Change programme, for whom I am doing some work. Read more »

Paul Twivy and David Robinson at the YSM Summit

Today’s Your Square Mile summit – reported here – heard a wide range of presentations from national organisations as well as those involved in local projects. Knowing that these were all being video’d, and will be available later, I took a different tack and invited YSM chief executive Paul Twivy to pop outside and have a chat on camera with long-time friend and adviser David Robinson OBE.

David co-founded the East London-based Community Links back in 1977, and has enormous experience both locally in Newham, and on national bodies. He gave the closing presentation at the summit, with a strong endorsement of YSM.

In the conversation you’ll hear Paul and David talk about the need to make connections between communities, and encourage people to share and adopt ideas across communities for creative local action, and much else.

There’s a good joke from David about a young child being told that the Equator was an imaginary line on the map, and hearing “lion”. We are too fearful of imaginary lions patrolling the borders between our communities.

Both Paul and David agree on then importance of the involvement of business – and that it is often and small and medium size enterprises who have most to contribute because they are closer to the community.

The recent riots may have offered a warning to bigger brands that while they have local presence, and large numbers of customers, they would be wise to develop stronger affinities with their local communities.

I hope to feature more from the Summit next week, including a presentation from YSM MD on the new digital platform, mentioned here.

Update: the new Your Square Mile site is live, and I’ve posted an update and interview with Jamie Cowen, YSM MD on my personal site.

Your Square Mile National Summit

I’m with John Popham in Birmingham reporting from the Your Square Mile National Summit, where more than 100 people are sharing experience from the local pilot projects that have been running this year around the UK. More on the pilots and YSM on their site.

As well as updates from the pilots, there are surgeries on fundraising, local ownership of community assets, setting up a community shop, and local online communities.

Your Square Mile is one of the major partners in the Big Lottery Fund’s People Powered Change, and I have reported past developments at socialreporter.com. I’ll be talking later in the day with chief executive Paul Twivy and others in the team to get an update on developments. Meanwhile you can follow #ysmbrum tweets here from the the event.