What was the issue?
There was an identified need to drive forward empowerment for communities in the city in a joined-up fashion between partners, and through PB. It was hoped that this would build existing community involvement, stimulate new and broader community involvement, help to improve links between community groups. Also to improve on strategic and local priorities in identified areas that could benefit from support.
Theme: Community Planning and Empowerment
What did we as a CPP do?
We initially combined the Community Choices grant from the Scottish government, the Fairer Aberdeen Fund with funding from Aberdeen City Council and also including grants from the NHS Grampian Health Improvement Fund, to run a series of PB processes. The processes culminated in voting events at which both established groups and new groups pitched for funding for their projects, with voting by residents. Subsequently, some monitoring was undertaken with follow up support, taking care to not ask for too much weight of reporting from the groups. The events attracted media attention and had positive public profiles.
What helped us to improve community participation?
The processes was mainly driven by Community Representatives and Volunteers with support from Officers. There was also broad engagement and support from a wide range of partners including Community Councils, Community Groups, City Council, ACVO, NHS, Police, and Fire and Rescue. As the process developed more people became involved and community groups came together to network and collaborate. The relationships and connections of individuals involved was also key to success of the projects.
What were the barriers to improving community participation?
The level of resources and capacity available is always a challenge. Partners also need to explore different ways of working to enhance community capacity, particularly in areas experiencing disadvantage. The links between Community Planning and local priorities in terms of engagement and participation continues to improve but could also be further strengthened to ensure alignment around the LOIP priorities and outcomes.
PB could potentially create competitiveness between community groups – need to be aware of this to instead create a collaborative atmosphere. It is important to introduce PB in communities experiencing pockets of inequality, as well as identified Localities. The positive impact of Participatory Budgeting goes far beyond the financial value of monies awarded, and can directly enhance Empowerment and Participation in communities.