The Big Conversation project group has reviewed the key findings from surveys and discussions so far and is planning a way forward. There are two different types of developments emerging. All these things will take some time, so the group wanted to update the community about when change might take place.
New community and environmental improvements
These will be delivered through several projects. The three main areas can be summarised as (1) developing a Community Hub, (2) improved provision for young people, and (3) ideas for a safer and greener Poundbury (including crime and anti-social behaviour, road safety, cycling, renewable energy, energy efficiency, local affordable food, and community resilience – it will be up to the project groups to agree what to focus on first).
For each project, it is important to research what is already provided. This ensures that we build on this rather than duplicate or compete with others. We will partner with existing projects and organisation where we can.
It is also important to involve those who might benefit from each project in designing it, such as potential hub users, or asking young people what they would find helpful. With a bit of thoughtful consultation, we can make sure projects are effective and well supported.
Only after we have done this research and consulted key groups will we actually get to grips with planning the project.
Those of you who provided your contact details and project interests during one of the Big Conversation workshops will be contacted during November with further information, and a date for an initial meeting about the project in January.
If you didn’t make one of the Conversation workshops but are interested in contributing to one of the above projects, do let us know.
New ways of organising and supporting our projects
The second type of change is about how we are organised. This is vital if projects are to succeed.
Through surveys and workshops, residents proposed the creation of a charitable Community Association for Poundbury which as well as residents could include businesses, those who work here, and those who use facilities such as the school and park but may live elsewhere in Dorchester – anyone with an interest in supporting community development in Poundbury. This wider and more inclusive Association could provide a shared forum which doesn’t really exist at the moment. A charity could also access funding which an unincorporated organisation like the current PRA cannot, and set up more professional systems enabling it to run premises or employ staff. Fortunately, members of the committee and project group have experience of setting up and running charities, so work has already started on this. A PRA community meeting (or meetings) in January will provide further information on options, and the reasons for the proposed change. The PRA AGM in April will make a final decision on the way forward.
Another change the working group is already looking at is to better organise our recruitment, support for and safety of community volunteers. Each project, as well as more general support for a Community Association, will need volunteers. Organisations sometimes can’t find volunteers who may be put off by a lack of clarity on expected commitment, and worry that they will be pressured into doing too much, so we need to develop more specific role descriptions. We need to provide training and support when needed – which attracts younger people wanting to gain experience and skills. We also need efficient systems for supporting and motivating volunteers, and ensuring that they are safe when volunteering for the organisation. Again, we are fortunate that the committee and project group have experience in volunteer support and management. That said, if you have managed volunteers and would like to use your skills in Poundbury, we would always welcome more support.
We’re making progress, but it will take time.
So, if you’ve already signed up for updates on a project area, standby for news of meetings in January.
If you’ve not yet signed up but would like to contribute, let us know and we will add you to the contact list.