YOU’RE probably starting to notice some media activity this week launching our new ‘Love Where You Live’ (LWYL) scheme.
I want to use today’s blog to explain a bit more about how this campaign epitomises Oldham Council’s new co-operative approach to public services.
In a nutshell, LWYL aims to do two key things.
Firstly, it seeks to highlight the fantastic community and volunteer spirit that already exists across all parts of our Borough.
And secondly it aspires to help that network grow further, and achieve more by encouraging even more people to ‘do their bit’.
LWYL’s starting point this week has been to highlight the fantastic work already being done by neighbourhood ambassadors like Adam Pietras from Failsworth, who built a community garden, or Malika Khatun, who runs activities for young women at her local youth centre in West Oldham.
Case studies like those are really only the tip of the iceberg of what’s going on.
You don’t often hear it shouted about, but the level of voluntary and unpaid activities in our Borough is higher than the regional and national averages.
But years before even coming into office here I was aware that Oldham Council has historically often been seen as putting barriers in the way of activities like this – and I’m determined that has to change.
What we need to do in the future is to become ‘enablers’. The Council needs to actively assist and work in partnership with communities on projects that will deliver social good.
As an example of what I mean here, I went along to Wrigley Head at Moston Brook on Monday to help a gang of 40 volunteers who want to improve the local environment.
These residents pledged to do their bit through unpaid activities like litter-picking and tree-planting at the site.
In return, Oldham Council has now invested some money to make it more secure and paid for bigger improvements like graffiti removal works.
The end result works for everyone.
It’s just one small example of this new approach, but the overriding message here is crystal clear.
Oldham Council doesn’t own this Borough. It belongs to the people who live here – and only if we work better in partnership can we make significant improvements to it as a place.
LWYL aims to encourage more people to get actively involved again in their communities and you can do that in many ways.
‘Doing your bit’ in your area doesn’t necessarily mean you have to set up a huge project or break your back digging a community garden.
Your contribution can be as simple as checking on elderly neighbours, offering to take their wheelie bins out, reporting grot spots to us, or attending local meetings to have your say and play a more active part in decision-making.
I’d urge people to pay this – and our new Facebook pages – a visit.
We hope these will eventually be used as a hub where residents can talk about what they’re doing in the area, what opportunities and events they have planned, and even just share ideas about how things can be improved.
As part of all this Oldham Council’s staff are also going to be doing their bit.
We’re now encouraging staff to spend three days a year working with local communities where their skills and input can make a really positive difference.
It’s clear to me now that our responsibilities as a Local Authority go way beyond just service delivery.
They include providing civic leadership and helping the growth of pride and engagement in your neighbourhood.
If we are to meet the public sector financial challenges that we’re facing, we have to be firmly on the side of residents.
And we now must demonstrably start to show what that means – to explain how working smarter alongside you can benefit everyone.
Thanks for listening,