Next step for ‘can-do’ Somerset communities

‘Can-do’ Somerset communities are gearing up for the next step in their bids to redesign and run key public services where they live – with a little help from Somerset County Council.

Martock, Wellington, Westfield and West Somerset are among 120 areas which were accepted onto the Government’s ‘Our Place’ programme this year.

Our Place aims to give more power to local communities to find a solution to issues affecting them. It means grassroots groups and partners working together and creating or tailoring services to directly address local needs.

Today (Friday 21 November) four Somerset Our Place projects will submit their in-depth plans of action to Central Government. These set out each project’s long-term financial strategy for putting their visions in place.

Between them, these projects cover everything from reducing social isolation and increasing employment opportunities, to road safety and the health and wellbeing of young families.

Leader of Somerset County Council, Cllr John Osman, said: “It’s fantastic to see pro-active, forward-thinking community groups taking matters into their own hands to improve their local areas.

“The energy and ‘can-do’ attitude we’ve witnessed in Somerset’s Our Place schemes is testament to the independent and motivated spirit of our County’s residents.

“Somerset County Council is one of many organisations and agencies giving support to the teams behind Somerset’s hard-working Our Place projects, including hosting the projects’ regional Peer Learning Hub.

“We’re proud to support these projects, alongside our local authority colleagues.

“What’s more, Our Place’s ambition is mirrored in our County Plan – of helping individuals and communities to help themselves, to volunteer and take control of services they believe are important to them.

“I wish all the projects the best of luck in the next stages of their schemes.”

By now, each of Somerset’s Our Place projects has:
• Identified its community’s priorities, through consultation
• Developed a vision for how its new services will function
• Identified relevant local agencies to address these concerns
• Established a core project team, involving the key service providers

The Government will give its feedback on the four draft operational plans in January, signing off final plans in March 2015.

Somerset’s Our Place projects are working towards the following visions:

The Our Place Martock project aims to improve the health, wellbeing, skills, financial security and quality of life of those in need within the community by helping them to become more self-reliant, improving access to services, reducing social isolation and enhancing employability.

Wellington’s Our Place scheme is building up support for families and young people, empowering them to be pro-active about their health and wellbeing.

Improving community, road safety and access to community services is the focus of Our Place in Westfield, Yeovil. The partnership team is also striving to improve residents’ digital skills, develop a community hub, and address concerns around health, education and social isolation.

Employment and training opportunities are the aim of West Somerset’s Our Place. Better-connecting members of the community with local employers, encouraging engagement in skills-based training, and getting an Employment and Skills Multi Agency Team more involved with the community are among its objectives.

Ends

Notes to editors

The Our Place programme, launched in January 2014, is funded by the Department for Communities and Local Government and run by Locality in partnership with the Local Government Association. An estimated 1 in 16 of the population now lives in an Our Place community.

Somerset County Council’s Peer Learning Hub is a regular meeting of the county’s Our Place projects to share progress, experience and address common questions.

Please direct specific Our Place project media queries to the following people:

Martock: Tracey Smith 07908 122185 tracey@martock.org.uk
Wellington: Andrew Govier 07919 540789 ajgovier@somerset.gov.uk
Westfield: James Divall 01935 462261 James.Divall@SouthSomerset.Gov.Uk
West Somerset: Emily Wishart 01984 635221 EWishart@westsomerset.gov.uk

To view all of our news releases, please visit: http://www.somersetnewsroom.com