Hello PPMA members and friends
Sue Evans our Vice President, put the phrase ‘Community Capacity’ into action over the weekend and shares her experience with us.
“We all talk about it, we all think it is key for the future of local services but how many of us actually roll up our sleeves and get stuck in? Well this weekend, the big society came to my tiny Cotswold village. The Aston Magna Spring Clean takes place in March each year and most of the villagers turn out to do what is necessary to spruce up the village and pick up the litter deposited on the roadsides into the village. What is it with people? Why would you toss your rubbish out of a car along a country lane? Who do they think is going to clear up after them.
Well us, obviously! We collected 25 plastic sacks full – red bull cans, beer cans, coke bottles, fast food wrappers as well the odd funny – underpants, a zimmer frame and a vibrator amongst the more exotic finds in our hedgerows. The mind boggles! Last year a couple of sofas a a fridge turned up the week before the clean up. If you are going to the trouble of loading it onto a vehicle, why not go to the tip?
My friend and I were assigned road sign cleaning. It was surprisingly satisfying to clean the green film and the accumulated grime and see our roadsigns looking bright and gleaming in the spring sunshine. There is a real sense of community where we live and it is feels good to take responsibility for our surroundings. We live in a pretty place and when it is tidy it gives a sense of pride and achievement. It also brings people together. Our parish Councillor and his wife brought round refreshments and we were able to chat and catch up with everyone. The children and teenagers join in and village looks ready for the new season. We are planning a picnic for the Queens’ birthday and our Autumn tidy up is already in the diary.
If we are to unlock community capacity as a way of helping our services go further then mobilising local people to do more for themselves is critical. Taking care of our spaces, taking care of people in our area, looking to ourselves to do more, contribute to building a community and taking time to make a difference. I have to say I felt quite virtuous and I know others did too after we made the effort over the weekend. Roll on summer and the big picnic. But please, let’s challenge others to do the decent thing in the first place and dispose of litter responsibly.”
Sue Evans is PPMA Vice-President and Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development at Warwickshire County Council