Talk About Local has recently been doing further work with staff, volunteers and residents of the Peabody Trust to help them create and develop simple community websites.
Back in July 2010 we worked with Future Jobs Fund trainee Daisy at Peabody Trust, to help her create Barnsbury Living – ‘an online community centre for the Barnsbury area’. More training sessions followed to help staff and local residents develop that and other websites such as the Green Man Community Centre, Pembury Living and St. George’s Circus Living, ‘dedicated to a flourishing St George’s Circus community’.
More recently we have been delivering training sessions to help increase resident involvement with the existing community websites and facilitate the creation of some more. So on Saturday 31st March I led a training session at Peabody’s head office in Lambeth with a group of 7 staff and residents. Some were completely new to WordPress and were looking to build a new website whilst others were looking to increase local awareness and engagement with sites they were already contributing to.
It’s for the Clyde Road Estate, which is in Tottenham. We’ve done a lot of improvement works on the site which is to green an area that was very concrete. The site is now set up to try and get the community involved in those gardening projects to try and sustain them….
Beds have been planted and we’re now looking to get the community involved in keeping those beds alive and keeping them beautiful and getting some children involved as well, and also to address the cross cultural divide that we have on the estate.
[The website] will bring people’s awareness…and we want to get residents involved in being involved in the site itself so they can put their views and ideas and engage the local community really.
Resident Steve Smith also created a website for the Cumberland Market Estate, which was previously known as the ‘Crown Estate flats’. Steve was an active part of the residents’ successful ‘Our Homes Are Not For Sale‘ campaign to prevent the estate from being sold to private developers when the Crown Estate announced their intention to sell in 2010. The campaign influenced the Crown Estate’s decision to sell to Peabody, who ‘tenants welcomed as their new landlord as they had a reputation as a responsible landlord’. Steve spoke to me about how he plans to use the new website [full audio interview available here]:
We’re an estate in North London and we needed to set up a site to let people know who we are and what we did and the facilities we’ve got available, so this is the start of it now….I’m so enthused I’m going home and starting on it now!
[The website is for] Mainly to keep residents updated of what’s going on on the estate and publicise events in our tenants’ hall. We’ve just been taken over by Peabody and they’ve funded us to run different classes like computer classes, tai chi classes for the elderly, exercise classes and so we want to publicise that. And also to publicise to people in the local community that our hall can be hired for various events and that’s what we want to get up and get the message out.
Both Steve and Jessica described the training as ‘quite easy’ and ‘really useful’ and left the session with a fair few ideas on how to take things forward.
In the meantime there are more Talk About Local training sessions with Peabody in the pipeline to help website managers build on what they’ve created and train people to create some more online community voices.