Janet Jewitt is one of the two Community Engagement Managers playing a crucial role in the initial phase of the local delivery pilot. Janet’s contacts, experience and reputation in the community means she’s well placed to support the project. We caught up with her after a community forum at Windhill Community Centre.
“The range of people I’ve been speaking to about the pilot over the last six months or so has been extensive. It’s everything from community-based providers, centre workers, voluntary sector, charities, and right up to the ward office – all people who are working in the community and providing a service.
“The benefit of that is that you’re harnessing all of that local intelligence. They’re the ones who know the difficulties and the complexities of the communities and what we need to do to support those that are most inactive. Also, those that aren’t accessing mainstream services – those are the ones we need to try and reach from this programme.
“There’s been loads of lovely stories already coming out from this. I was up at the Gateway and met up with some partners. We were talking about an issue in Ravenscliffe – which is not unfamiliar to other estates – in that the main avenue connecting the community to the main roads has just become a rat run for quad bikes. So how do we try and support some of that, linking it to the LDP?
“In my and that group’s opinion, the more ownership the community have on those roads, the less likely it is to be used for anti-social behaviour. But it requires a really targeted intervention and a number of services coming together. We came up with this idea of bringing together young people, speaking to them about the issues preventing them going to those places, and as a result we create a community mile in conjunction with them.
“We would map out from the community centre, around some of the most challenged places on the estate, and make that part of a walking mile. We bring different families and groups together, give them some hi-vis jackets and torches for the winter, and start using it on a regular basis. If it’s seen to be used in a more positive way, then hopefully it’s less likely to be a target for anti-social behaviour.
“It might work, it might not work. But we’re going to get families active, measure it through FitBits, and it’ll support lots of different things. That’s just one little local initiative that’s come out with a few partners coming together, identifying a problem and then linking it to physical activity and the LDP.
“Once you’ve got those children engaged in activity as simple as walking, it could become a run. Or they could decide they want to try something else, and want to know what else is available. Then we’ve got them more engaged in wider physical activity.
“We can’t let the communities down. We’ve put a lot of faith into these communities, gone in there and made them part of this opportunity. We’ve asked them to be part of the consultation and everyone’s really got involved and been enthusiastic. It’s about maintaining that momentum now, because even the smallest little thing takes volunteers or local people to drive it. The added value that brings through encouraging the most disadvantaged young people to be responsible in their own community, you can get young leaders as a consequence. It can work on a number of different levels.
“People in the community and working in the community are excited by it. I’m a big believer in joining the dots around the city. There’s a lot of money coming into the health and wellbeing agenda, and young people should be at the heart of it.
“All the consultation we’ve been having, the headlines that have been coming out are around having a safe space for people to go and trusted relationships. Young people should be at the heart of our thinking and they’ll tell us what they want, and it’s up to us to deliver it.
“Can we deliver it? I’m sure we can.”
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