Seeing community as an asset not a problem - the USE-IT! journey begins
Our project is built around the idea of linking macro assets with micro assets in the community. And as enigmatic as it sounds, it actually is very simple.
We want to make people in the community aware that there are large investment projects at their doorsteps that could bring the opportunity to change their lives. These large projects are our assets (anchor institutions, private capital investments) that form a part of city’s regeneration and the new housing master plan. However, if done without involving people living on the ground these projects carry a risk of alienating poorest communities.
The New Midlands Hospital construction site
People from the adjacent communities often feel that they are being threatened by new development projects. We want to break that barrier and prove that the macro assets bring an abundance of opportunities for the local people. The ideas we are currently investigating are an international food market at the new hospital ground, new shops, cafes as well as art, sport, health and wellbeing enterprises and many other businesses that can be located around the new hospital and the new housing development. We will work with the people in the community to raise their ambitions and support them in their journeys to better education, better jobs, new skills, healthier lives that would allow them to co-create their own space and play a leading role in the changing environment.
Our journey so far:
We have set up the most unique and incredibly versatile partnership of organisations and people that deeply care about the future and cohesion of our city. 15 project partners represent higher education, public, private sectors and the third sector. We all work together to deliver an integrated programme of community research, education, employment support, social enterprise creation and social finance.
On 10 April, the partnership started an important task of mapping the assets in the community which we believe is our first step to understanding where we need to focus our attention first. What is important to us is that we look at the incredibly challenging part of our city not as a problem but as an opportunity. The city is full of assets that need to be understood and unlocked.
" People look at deprived area and ask What's wrong with this community? Whereas they should be asking What's right? Because if you start with what's right, you will arrive at a different better solution"
USE-IT! participant Marianne
On 6 April, we have launched the Soho Social Enterprise Network. 40 people gathered around the table representing potential sectors we will be working with: age diversity and ethnicities, criminal justice, social inclusion, third sector, art, computer design, sport and natural environment. The idea is that we support the social enterprises not only to access new markets (although it is definitely our main interest) but also to bring them to the point where they can continue to grow, collaborate and develop clusters.
Author: Karolina Medwecka-Piasecka, USE-IT! Project Manager, Birmingham City Council
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