The key aim of the event was to help and encourage local people of all ages to:
- find out about their local community groups and services
- gather useful information and know where to go for advice
- provide inspiration to take up new activities and make new friends
- be offered an opportunity to have their voice heard.
We also hoped by bringing community groups and services together under one roof we might:
- create a local services directory
- strengthen local connections
- encourage networking and the sharing of resources
- in some cases springboard new community ventures
The event was organised by Billie Burnett from West Devon CVS and Rose Hunter from Wiser£money who both work for Transitions, with lots of support from Mike Fitzpatrick our Volunteer Rural Champion, the Community Centre, Parish Councillors, community groups and agencies, the Church, Community Primary School, local businesses most notably Jaynes Café and volunteers especially members of Princetown WI.
(Transitions is a partnership between Wiser£money and West Devon CVS and funded by the Big Lottery for 3 years to provide free and confidential money and debt advice across the rural settlements of West Devon and Torridge for those unable to access mainstream advice and to work with community partners to improve rural communities financial wellbeing and reduce social isolation. We plan to run seven community wellbeing events and compare and share the findings as part of evaluating the impact of the Transitions project.)
- Summary of what we learnt from the event
- 80+ individuals participated in the event including 45 + individuals involved on the stalls 6 volunteers, 15 children and teachers and 14 members of the public plus their children.
- 30 organisations had manned stalls (32 with WDCVS and Transitions)
- 8 individuals/groups (couples and families) took part in a community consultation
- 100% of stall holders had increased their knowledge of other services (yes lots 50%, a little 50%).
- 100% of stall holders had been encouraged to engage with other services (yes lots 61%, a little 39%).
- 71% of stall holders had used the opportunity to consult with the public about their service (14% yes lots, 57%% a little) and 29% no.
What worked well? The number of organisations involved, the children’s choir taking part, friendly atmosphere, the space, having Breeze – the Dartmoor pony there plus the free tea and cakes.
What could be improved? More members of the public attending; the timing – later weekday afternoon was suggested by lots of people to catch parents picking up their children from school and people coming home from work, or on a Saturday; and an offer of some family entertainment and hot food.
Community wellbeing consultation
The most important services and community attributes spoken about by the public attending are (in order of how many times they were mentioned):
- Dartmoor, the beauty of the moor, snow, walking and being outside with friends
- the Primary School
- Princetown’s huge potential.
The services or attributes that had fallen away:
- loss of regular bus services
- Community Spirit
The things that would make the Princetown even better:
- Improved bus service
- Improved policing
- Affordable housing
- More people knowing they are powerful, wonderful and treasured
- Activities for younger children
- Bike Park
- Street pastors (Friday and Saturday night)
- Activities for teenagers in the evening
The Community Wellbeing event worked well as an opportunity for services and organisations to network but the lack of public attending was disappointing for everyone. It had been arranged on a Wednesday morning to coincide with the drop in’s for the doctors surgery and Credit Union in a bid to reach individuals who might benefit from knowing about the services and support available and opportunities to participate in social and creative activities. However we had little success persuading individuals who came to see the doctor to visit the event; there again, if you are feeling unwell you might not wish to talk to strangers and visit lots of information stands.
Looking at the feedback from the stall holders, some excellent networking took place which we hope will lead to sharing resources, partnership work and recruitment of volunteers and participants. The community directory created for the event is being shared with all the agencies and organisations involved including the local school, church and Dartmoor Forest Parish Council who are working on their new website.
Many people talked about how friendly the event felt and the performance from the Princetown Primary School’s children was inspiring. What happens next will truly illuminate if this event provided a useful community catalyst, encouraging more people to get involved locally and helping individuals to learn where to seek advice and help in the future.