COMMUNITY - Community Hubs, Spaces and More | Participant contributions at the 22nd April online People's Assembly

We've sorted rich flood of ideas and vision elements shared into four broad groups; you can access the other groups – and a catch-all group - below.

Transport, public, private and active
Land, nature and housing
Citizenship, society and education
Other topics & ideas

It's been hard to separate 'Community' from 'Citizenship, Society & Education' as there are many overlaps. For the moment some ideas are in included in both sections, and we've deliberately left all near-duplication to emphasise the most common themes.

The Need for Change, Engagement & Being Heard
• A legacy for nature and close community: a supportive network to enrich people's lives.
• Change takes so long – who can we hold to account? Need to be able to hold people/council/government to account.
• Local elections are short term – how can we get long-term support for action?
• Do we achieve change within existing structures or alternative? When is protest valid to be listened to? How radical do we have to become?
• More interaction between communities and councils. Councils need to ask questions and really listen.
• Have PAs with power to deliver in order to engage and empower communities. This needs collaboration between people and council, we are all involved and must share a wider, more shared responsibility.
• Our voices must be heard by the right people, in the right place – concerning the environment where we live.
• How change can be achieved locally when we need the right policies from national government to support and fund councils and communities.
• Engage young people.
• People being able to articulate the change they want to see happen, the PA gives greater democracy; it is a light bulb moment for ordinary and diverse people who want to change things in their community.
• Change has to happen, we have the ability to unite and form umbrella organisations with a common purpose, like the Cycling forums and Plastic-Free Bookham.
• The May elections are soon and while many councillors have the good of the community at heart, they really don't get it. We need to inform them in a non-political way how to make better decisions, so we can get together to pool energy and enthusiasm.
• What principles on what we want from environment and how to achieve e.g. Dorking council buildings.
• Use education as a good way of solving poverty. The adult education centre in Dorking has been empty since I've lived here - a wasted resource. More learning opportunities = more employment opportunities.
• A structural, general approach.
• Partnership: use the twinning systems to share goals and support them to do what we're doing.
• Concerns around inclusivity and diversity; we shouldn't just be shouting into our echo chamber.
• Small groups can effect change, particularly if they focus on one thing. There is a plan to plant over 1.2 million trees in Surrey and more engagement is needed with the tree wardens to get buy in for the proposed locations.
• Need for a focus on things that are tangible to us.
• Communities being able to come together across political divides to tackle environmental problems together.
• Local councils to be better at engaging in "blue-sky thinking".
• Surrey to have less economic inequality.
• It is "perverse" for an area as rich as Surrey to have such inequality, particularly food inequality. Instead all inhabitants need to be supported to live their best possible lives, and to be able to love where they live.
• Imagined a culture of kindness and community support, with a Scandinavian style of public policy and a more socially conscious population.
• Every inhabitant of East Surrey to have a voice and be listened to by 2030.
• Would like a wider group of people to have agency over how land is managed and developed.
• A universal basic income
• Living in Surrey is too expensive for young people.
• Capitalise on the new connections established because of the pandemic.
• People's Assemblies become a regular and normal way to decide things and spur politicians to listen to the will of the people.
• Build a good community model: Community is a really important component and is not really working properly. The Scottish have a community councils model, where it acts as a voice for their local area. [This may be it: https://www.gov.scot/publications/community-councils-model-scheme-for-establishment/ ]
• Work from within our community groups.
• Help our communities to help ourselves.
• The whole community must work together and be less divided.
• Harness the energy of young people and enable them to feel part of the community.
• Councils must respond to local people and engage with them by asking questions and listening to what people have to say. PAs may be one way of enabling this. Good to give people a voice, but important that that voice is being heard by the right people. There is no longer a town council office in Leatherhead so local engagement reduced.
• Ensure there's a way of monitoring progress on targets in Surrey Climate Change Strategy to make sure things do happen – a way of holding to account.

Community Spaces & Centres
• Improved mental health.
• Keep Dorking Hospital and increase its remit to include a network of complementary therapies.
• 'Healthy space' in every sense of the word, let's think about quality of life, our principles and our purpose.
• Turn churchyards into sensory and wildflower gardens as an area for the community.
• Grassroots initiatives e.g. allotments.
• A holistic approach to food addressing the need side, the waste side. More engaged in growing, in food clubs redistributing waste which are already increasing in scope.
• GPs in Horley organised a "primary care collective" and are reaching out to the community,hoping to set up a kitchen.
• Universal access to fresh, local food.
• Provision of inter-school clubs (e.g. chess) to encourage socialising.
• Great to hear the voice of younger people, but they need help to know how they can join in, lots of different groups e.g. Culture/Music Declares.
• More community space and green space in Dorking – and also greater access to green space and landscape. Land ownership is too concentrated in the hands of a wealthy few.
• Particularly interested in gendering of space e.g. how parks are less safe/ welcoming to women.
• Green spaces to used promote healthy culture and generally improve people's health.
• Have a communal space in the centre of Dorking to provide "a heart" for the town – perhaps by expanding St. Martin's Walk into a larger piazza-type space.
• Give communities agency over land and space. Community space could be reclaimed from shops and retail in a post-pandemic world, letting the community put their own ideas into practice, for example a soft play area in Dorking library.
• Get involved where you live - that is where we can have most effect.
• CHIP (Community Hub in Pippbrook); after 5 years of campaigning, the council is giving them Pippbrook House to use as a community hub and there are lots of ideas on how this can be used. We have lost a lot of community resources due to the pandemic - offices, police stations etc. We need places to share and use to work together for building community on all levels.
• Many teenagers have nothing to do and often just hang out in parks and cause damage or annoyance. This is often spoken about in community pages. Much of their input comes from things such as Tik-Tok and online influencers. Instead, we need to harness their energy and help them feel part of the community.
• Something different from old style youth clubs. Maybe learning skills such as woodcraft, get involved in litter picks.
• Improve sterile spaces, find funding for communities to purchase these spaces to develop them into a beautiful nature reserve for nature therapy and mental health. All-inclusive with the opportunity for one to one sessions and group therapies surrounded by nature.
• Shared spaces enable people to connect.

A shared vision for 'community'?

At the end of the 22 April Assembly each breakout room presented the 3 most common themes from their participants' contributions. Here's a Vision Statement based on those 33 summary elements; that vision can be made much richer by inclusion of the detail from above.

East Surrey 2030 is a web of well-connected Communities; at village, town and in District Council level, residents work together for common good, collaborating with the authorities to realise the community-led visions. Regular PAs update those visions and make the council's job easier.
Community Hubs and the piazzas they are sited on are the buzzing centre for local involvement, the first stop on every visit to town. The knowledge sharing culture is obvious from the multiplicity of posters in the coffee shop, as is the cross-generational support available to all. Resources – both volunteer and council-backed – are regularly re-focused; food poverty is a thing of the past, those with disabilities feel included and wealth inequality less obvious.
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Tuesday, 21 September 2021

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