The Residents Survey 2012 identified that 40% of people feel that the Council takes into account residents’ views and 31% feel they can influence the decisions that the Council makes. This is a 12% increase on the response to the same question in the All in One survey, although due to the methodological differences between a postal and telephone survey, some level of difference should be expected.
A key priority of the Richmond Partnership is to continue to improve on this result and developing our partnership with local residents is key to our approach. The response of over 13,500 households (17% of the total) to the ‘All in One’ survey has demonstrated how much people care and want to have a say about their area. Over 6,000 respondents indicated they wanted to be kept informed about how they could get more involved in their local area. The fact that Richmond residents are community-minded was further borne out by our Residents Survey, with almost a third (30%) saying they spend time doing something to help improve their community or neighbourhood, while two thirds (66%) say they are interested in receiving more information to help them do more to help improve their community or neighbourhood.
As well as the All in One Survey and events, more than 2000 residents have already participated in the development of a Twickenham Action Plan through the Barefoot Consultation, Twickenham Conference and options appraisal for the future of Twickenham.
In 2011 we also carried out an online All in One Business Survey which is informing our work to support businesses in the borough.
The All in One survey has enabled us to identify a number of local “villages” to which people feel that they belong and we have held an event for each village area to feed back the initial results of the survey and to develop local village plans. These identify a vision for each area and information about the community resources and services available in each area. They also identify the specific issues that people thought important, what needs improving and how the Council and its partners have responded.
We intend to use the Village Plans as a means of engaging with local people and community and voluntary groups and to support them to improve their local communities. We have introduced regular newsletters which will help people to keep in touch with what is going on in their local area, what the Richmond Partnership is doing to improve things and how they can be involved. As a direct response to the All in One survey we have substantially increased the roads and pavements repair fund and given local people the opportunity to have a say in how those local funds are spent through the Community Road and Pavement Fund. We will be looking for further opportunities to do this.
As partners the Council, the Richmond Clinical Commissioning Group and the Local Involvement Network has started a piece of work to improve the way we engage, involve and communicate with people who have a stake in health and social care services. Although for some groups our current arrangements work well, we know that we could make it easier for more people to know when and how they can get involved and have their say and we could be better at letting them know how their views have influenced decision making. Partners are also working to ensure the commissioning of a new HealthWatch service that will be the consumer champion for health and social care services in the borough and provide information to local people on how services are performing so that they can make informed choices about who provides their care.
We are also developing our approach to engaging and involving children, young people, parents and carers to work together so that they have the opportunity to influence the design, commissioning delivery and to evaluate services. We encourage the participation of students in school Student Councils and at a borough level the Youth Council is a proactive group of young people who work to make sure that the voice of young people is heard in Richmond. In 2011 six thousand five hundred young people in Richmond took part in the Youth Parliament elections, the best turn out to date. Over the next three years we are developing some innovative programmes to involve young people as commissioners of services and actively involve them in designing the services they value.
We recognise the wealth of talent, skills, knowledge and experience that local people have and the high level of volunteering there is already in our community. We will support this effort with the Community Links initiative, which works at community level to put people in touch with those who can help them to get things done, through offering a wider range of volunteering opportunities, designed to appeal to those not traditionally involved in volunteering. We will work across the Partnership to support the many volunteers who already contribute to our community safety, work with isolated residents and contribute their time to work with young people. We will continue to promote the Civic Pride Fund, which offers funding support to individuals as well as organised groups.
We also recognise the significant role played by the voluntary and community sector in building community capacity to be involved and to be advocates and representatives, especially for vulnerable groups. The work described above includes the active participation of the community and voluntary sector as partners in highlighting the needs of local communities and helping us to reach a wide range of individuals and communities and to help make their voice heard. We will continue to work closely with them to improve the way we involve local people in having their say about the services that affect them and to help us to improve what we do.
Updated: 1 May 2013