Funded by a large strategic grant from MK Community Foundation and the National Lottery, his 3-year project will create a new broad-based alliance of faith, education and other community organisations, to tackle together the social issues faced by residents in Fishermead estate.
Using the concepts and tools of Community Organising, developed by national charity Citizens UK over 30 years, it will develop residents as ‘leaders’ designing and delivering campaigns to: 1) improve the physical environment, 2) reduce anti-social behaviour and 3) increase self- and community pride on the estate. This will involve holding both the state and the market to account, ensuring that local government is doing its jobs properly and that businesses employing residents have responsible practices.
Born of the existing Citizens:mk alliance and raised on its best practice, Fishermead Citizens Alliance (FCA) will use its relational power to connect directly with individuals and institutions which have power over residents’ lives. The campaigns will be driven by the interests of Fishermead residents, not outside experts. The experience of positive action will increase integration and social cohesion on the estate.
Working with partner organisations from public and private sectors, this strategic development of MK’s first estate-based citizens alliance will involve beneficiaries in governance as well as design.
External evaluation will be carried out by The Open University and disseminated across the 15 chapters of Citizens UK, to inform and inspire other models of estate-based community organising in other cities and areas, including MK’s Lakes Estate.
Central to the strategy will be appointing a part-time professional community organiser, 0.2fte, to organise annual cycles of training, research, action and evaluation (in 2020-21/21-22/22-23):
Training – identify talented 60 community leaders and build their capacity through One-Day Community Leadership Training (30/20/10), regional Citizens UK Three-Day Training (5/5/5) and national Six-Day Training (2/2/2).
Research – organise listening campaigns for residents to share experiences of life in the community in 500 one-to-one conversations (100/150/250), identifying issues of social injustice and ideas for improvement (Issues Workshops each Autumn for 20/30/40 people), and agreeing SMART campaign goals (Delegates Assembly early each Spring for 40/60/80 people) for action on power-holders.
Action – together and publicly request pledges of action from power-holders, e.g. elected councillors, police chiefs, business owners (Accountability Assembly in late Spring for 80/100/120 people).
Evaluation – develop in leaders a habit of immediate and open evaluation after actions; also generate data for an external evaluation report to be disseminated across Citizens UK chapters and UK community foundations through a conference in MK hosted by The Open University in Spring 2023.