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CHAMPIONING NEIGHBOURHOODS

Social transformation to fight deprivation

Many regions of Europe still suffer from high levels of deprivation. It takes many forms, ranging from unemployment and lack of education to health and environmental problems or lack of personal safety. The project Championing Neighbourhoods was launched on the premise that residents of deprived areas are the people best able to promote social change. Governments and local authorities cannot solve everything, but it is hard to get people involved as a grassroots driving force for social transformation, often because they themselves do not believe they can do it. This project aims to enable and develop local people to become community champions.

Championing Neighbourhoods is part of the Inclusive Growth pillar of the GROW programme, seeking to promote urban renaissance. The essence of the project is the search for sustainable development of the community, delivering transformation, respecting the environment, looking for economic growth, working for social improvement and trying to defeat inequality.

The lead partner is Hope in the Community (UK), working with three partners from the UK, Poland and Spain. The project has staged conferences and study visits in each of the three regions which facilitate exchange of knowledge and experience and make it possible to see at first hand examples of successful social intervention. The project maps out training needs and pathways, looking for a potential common approach across regions. Its major products include case studies highlighting problems in different regions and offering examples of best practice for solving them.

The Championing Neighbourhoods website and a handbook are other key elements in charting the progress of the project, passing on knowledge and displaying examples of best practice.

On the ground, a Community Forum of NGOs has been formed in the Krzeszowice region (PL), based on a model introduced by the North Kent Community Forum (UK). In Andalucía, a pilot project has been designed, again based on an English model, to give support, guidance and training to local people to help them get involved in community work.

“Social changes are possible but need time to come true,” said Vincent Jasper of lead partner Hope in the Community. “We hope that the enduring legacy of our project will be simply that those people, organisations, authorities and NGOs with whom we came into contact will remember the experience and go on to make the changes needed in their environment.”

The project partners feel that their work is really only just beginning and there are many initiatives and collaboration proposals still to be realised in many fields. They have established an effective working method that should endure into the future.

“Residents of deprived areas are the people best able to promote social change. Governments and local authorities cannot solve everything.”

Contact:

Vincent Jasper

Hope in the community
5a
New Road Avenue
Chatham
Kent
ME4 6BB

Tel: +44 1634 814240

Email: info@hitc.org.uk