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Participation & Engagement
A sustainable community is one that puts its most vulnerable members at its centre. How are we planning for the most vulnerable in our community? What is being missed when these people are not represented at the decision-making table and when services within the community are not accessible?
Who are the most vulnerable in our community?
What would we do differently if we had the most vulnerable groups at the core of what we do?
If this is already our focus, who else in our community needs to take this on board so that everyone can participate?
Host a public meeting with as many members of the community as possible to gather views and ideas on a topic that has emerged within the theme of Participation and Engagement.
Reach out to diverse groups to attend. Possible topics could include: rural depopulation, access to services, the representation of voices in the community or child friendly spaces.
Through this wider engagement, encourage the community to focus on actions that everyone can see themselves as having ownership of.
Find out who is not being reached in the community and reach out to them
Consult with staff and volunteers to explore who is not currently being reached by the services you offer – consider what might prevent people from engaging with your community project and put in place steps to address this.
Create opportunities for individuals to engage with one another through activities that nurture sustainability: www.localprevention.ie
Take steps to make your organisation more accessible
Market your volunteer opportunities in places visible to those from socially excluded groups and record information about the people that become involved through volunteering and projects.
Consider accessibility in all your published materials – engage with NALA for adult literacy accessibility www.nala.ie, www.ncbi.ie for people who are blind or visually impaired, www.irishdeafsociety.ie for deaf and hard of hearing, etc.
If you are seeking an external person or organisation to develop a publication on your behalf, and when organising events, have a checklist of ways to make this as accessible as possible for everyone.
See http://nda.ie/Resources/Accessibility-toolkit/ for guidelines on making services etc. more accessible.
Train staff and volunteers in issues of diversity and inclusion
The National Youth Council of Ireland has developed a comprehensive toolkit, Access All Areas, for promoting diversity and inclusion in youth work.
Do an audit of local shops and services
Do an accessibility audit of local shops and services and encourage the service providers to make improvements.
Create accessible spaces for people to engage
Create opportunities for individuals to engage with one another through activities that nurture sustainability, e.g. community repair workshops:
A Playful City: https://www.aplayfulcity.com/
Nurture initiatives that promote inter-generational engagement
e.g. staff from local businesses to volunteer to serve ‘meals on wheels’ for an older persons group, establish a ‘homesharing’ programme whereby younger people are matched with older people living along in their homes with spare rooms.
Set up a local ‘timebank’ of skills
Timebanks enable people to contribute their voluntary time or skills in exchange for a skill or service that they require: http://www.timebankingireland.org/p/what-is-timebank.html
Campaign for better transport infrastructure locally
Join in local and national campaigns for improved sustainable transport infrastructure such as rail services, increased and improved bus services and safe cycle routes to improve transport infrastructure.
Let’s talk about Sustainable Communities!
Invite elected representatives to your community to discuss your vision for a sustainable local community.
Host a Citizens Assembly on an important issue, e.g. rural depopulation
Link with other towns and villages locally – to discuss issues of rural depopulation and explore sustainable options to address this in the short and the long term.
Set up a library of things for people to share tools and equipment that they use occasionally
WeShare, a Gift Economy community group, has created a Library of Things.