Category Archives: Community First

Participatory Budgeting Day

Today I went with Kate Goodall over to Stafford to the Diocese of Lichfield Participatory Budgeting Day. I had no idea what that even meant when I got in the car this morning but over the duration of just a few hours, not only am I fully sold on the idea I’m already trying to think of ways that the model can be used locally.

What?

Participatory Budgeting directly involves citizens in the allocation of funding, As the People’s Budget website puts it:

Participatory budgeting directly involves local people in making  decisions on the spending and priorities for a defined public budget.  PB processes can be defined by geographical area (whether that’s neighbourhood or larger) or by theme.  This means engaging residents and community groups representative of all parts of the community  to discuss and vote on spending priorities, make spending proposals, and vote on them, as well giving local people a role in the scrutiny and monitoring of the process and results to inform subsequent PB decisions.

– Essentially it devolves the funding process  from a panel that decides on who is “worthy” to the wider community. It struck me as being a cross between an unconference and CDF community first panels.

Today

Today’s event was to allocate funding from the Diocese of Lichfield. Money that was collected across the area during the Lent appeal. 50% of the money raised was already earmarked for the Siyafundisa project in Matlosane, South Africa but the remaining sum was available for neighbourhoods across the diocese to bid for, there was £20,000 up for grabs.

26 projects applied and they were invited to attend today’s event to pitch for the money. As it was some groups didn’t make so we ended up listening to 22 pitches for funding and voting on our preferences.

The  rules were simple, each group had a very brief write up in the programme and were given exactly 3 minutes on stage to sell their project / service / idea to everyone in the room so we could then vote on them – I’m not sure if there was a cap put on the amount you could claim for but no group had applied for more than £2000.

Some of the pitches were smoother than others, some funny some touching and some just very factual but a bell sounded at the 3 minute mark and that was it – your time was up.

The actual vote itself was a “Eurovision” style affair where your favourite / most worthy pitch  was given 10 points, your second favourite 9 and so on so forth working back to 1 – Each score was then added to the total  for the project and funded was allocated working down the “leaderboard” until the money ran out – which meant if you were the last to receive funding you may end up with a part allocation toward your cause.

Everyone over the age of 10 could vote, but if you were planning on voting you had to stay in the room for the entire duration as to give every bid a fair hearing and the voting was to take place after the final pitch.

At the end of the session votes were cast and we broke for lunch while the figures were added up.

Today  through this system we helped the Diocese fund 11 projects that ranged from Kids clubs and Foodbanks, to Drug and Alcohol outreach programmes and community building repairs and everything in between.

Generosity

Then for me came  the most generous innovative part of the day. Once the votes were in and the “winners” were announced they were all given the opportunity to put some of their award back in the pot to redistribute and help support projects further down the “leaderboard”.  For instance a group who were awarded say £2000 could voluntarily give back £200 to the pot – leaving with £1800 more than they arrived with for their group but enabling the money to go further. 10% wasn’t a mandatory sum in fact  they could donate any amount back into pot, or nothing at all if they weren’t in a position to be able to and groups did so based on their individual circumstances. By doing this today the initial 11 grant winners helped fund or part fund another 2 projects.

Doing it locally…

Observing and participating in the session today has already got me thinking about how this process, or something similar could be applied locally – my initial thinking was for the Community First Panels – locally there are 4 including our Wednesfield South Panel that I could name without even thinking about it. What if we came together to hold a day where local projects could pitch to us as a collective their bids for funding –  I know only the panels in the relevant area would be eligible to vote on their local projects  BUT  having the groups all together would / could give us a better overview of all the activities going on locally – and maybe enable us to join some of them up making our funding go further.

This still needs some thinking as we are different to the Diocese as we don’t actually hold any purse strings to hand money out but I think it has some merit and is a model I would love to find a way make work here!

Lots of things happening in the Wednesfield Community!

I knew I was setting myself up for failure starting a new blog – we’ve done so much I’ve not posted here because I’m so busy “doing” to be writing about it…..Anyway, what have we done in the last few weeks? Well there was the Wednesfield North and South PACT meetings, there was a Community First Panel Meeting, a Jubilee meeting and the previously mentioned LNP meeting.

We live tweeted from both the PACT meetings, progressed nicely with our Community First Panel, voted in our final member and put out a call for bids. We’ve also decided on a time line of tasks up until our next meeting to help market the funding loacally. ACT are progressing nicely with our Jubilee plans and we’ve had hundreds on entries to the community art competition from the local primary schools – now we’ve just got to judge them. Thankfully we have an experienced art teacher on the panel who will be able to help us see not only the content but which piece will best transpose onto the large canvas that suits our purpose, The “short list” is about 50 long so this may take some time.

I’ve delivered  training in a Nunnery ( which was actually a work thing but it was a nunnery so had to be worth a mention) and we’re about to set a date to hold neighbourhood Social Media Surgery because so many of the TRA’s and community centres have asked James and I for help locally that we thought this would be the best way to deliver it and also a date to support the other local Community First Panels with their websites which we’ve agreed to do as part of our LNP work.

Except for scanning in some of the Art Competition entries for the ACT facebook page I’m taking a break for the Easter weekend, unless something big happens and we need to respond I’m not even going to post the Wv11 facebook page – I have the bank holidays off work and everyone deserves a break sometimes!