A cross section of our “Power to Change” youth and community partners came together on Friday 4th November, to share practice and learning and to meet with Asst Mayor Danny Myers, to discuss how we could partner more effectively with the city council.
After sharing updates on our work, we discussed the aftermath of the recent riots in Leicester East. We noted the city council independent enquiry was on hold as a new chair being sort, after the current one resigned, after leaders of the Hindu community had said they were not willing to speak with him, as they felt he had a “bias”. Those present who worked in the communities affected, felt there was a lot of misinformation going around. Many felt, lack of youth services, feelings of boredom and alienation had far more impact on young people participating than religious differences. It was also noted that many rioting, were not young and some felt it was wrong to describe these as youth riots.
Social media had led to lots of misinformation and encouraged people to get involved to protect people from fictitious events. Post riots communities seem keen to get back to getting on with each other. There are concerns that certain people using these incidents to “play politics and/or further their own agenda”. Those present felt way forward was to avoid stereotyping and or imposing agendas and to listen to the young people and communities affected and invest in local services especially youth provision. Sadly, the current reality is cuts, cuts, cuts, and young people growing up in neighbourhoods with nothing to do.
When it comes to the young people who were involved, these riots had more to do with them having nothing to do, getting into gangs, turf wars and the escalation impact of social media, going forward we need to invest in youth provision
Rather than treat these riots as a political football, we need to take the time to really listen to and respond to the needs of our communities and young people
We were joined by Asst Mayor Danny Myers. Danny shared, his lead areas were jobs, skills, and economy. The council were operating against a backdrop of severe cuts and the Budget statement on Nov 17th might bring in more cuts. The Council was willing to work in partnership with community sector, but Danny realised this was often not delivered in a smooth effortless way and the council could benefit from new ideas on participation. He did share that committee meetings and scrutiny meetings has space for public to ask questions and make statements at beginning of meeting and this was a good “official” way to raise issues. Stuart from the Woodgate Adventure Playground shared how working together the adventure playgrounds had used this opportunity to argue the case successfully against closure.
Danny also briefed us that UKSPF funding was delayed but even when “live” it was basically a cut less than 50% of the EU funding it was replacing. However, he was still willing to listen to thoughts and ideas, but funding was prescriptive and might possibly be subject to more cuts post Nov 17th Budget statement.
Danny also encouraged participants to work with their local Cllrs, who could often chase up and get a response from council officers, more effectively than enquiry from the public.
In the discussion that followed the following points were raised.
- The system sounds reactive could the council work with sector to develop a systemic proactive approach.
- The council is a big beast and different work cultures in different departments and appetite for change.
- Should senior Council leaders be trained in participatory partnership working and have this as core competence in JD, that is reviewed at annual appraisal.
- Information on committee and scrutiny meeting is available on council website but could this be revamped and made more user friendly.
- Council willing to look at other ways it can support sector, joint bids and or supporting bids, providing workspaces etc.
- Cllrs and senior officers should be proactively getting out and meeting community groups. Danny. said if invited Cllrs would attend.
It’s great that Danny came and was so open and keen to help, what I would like to see is city council reaching out and working with community partners to develop a systemic proactive partnership approach
As we ended the meeting, all present felt it was more important than ever that we continue to meet regularly, to offer each support and to speak out on issues of common concern. We agreed we would seek to attend relevant City Council Committee meetings to address issues of concerns.
This has been an inspiring meeting that sparked the need to act in all who attended
For more information on our Power to Change approach to community development https://www.leicestershirecares.co.uk/about-charity/our-approach/power-to-change/