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Community Organiser Stewart Bishop

Community organisers making a real difference in Staffordshire

Video: Staffordshire Community Organiser, Stewart Bishop explains how the scheme benefits local communities

The restoration of a historic building, the creation of a new community hub, a new park and the training of dozens of community sports coaches are just some of the projects being spearheaded by Staffordshire’s team of community organisers.

Over a dozen community organisers already work in communities across Staffordshire listening to thousands of residents and mobilising many more volunteers. These are self-motivated individuals, trained in the art of bringing people together to make a real difference in their local communities.

Stewart Bishop and Eileen Jordan are community organisers behind the Old Chapel Works project in Stafford. The community interest company provides opportunities for volunteering through a recycling and upcycling project. Eileen also supported a local community group to take over the running of a local pub which was earmarked for closure while Stuart led a campaign for a new public park in the town.

Stewart said:

“The Community Organiser programme is great. When this really works well, people have a stronger sense of belonging, feel more valued and motivated to work together to improve lives and transform their areas.”

Staffordshire has thousands of individual communities and neighbourhoods, all helping to make Staffordshire a great place to live. And now, these communities are set to benefit from a new £4.2m fund to increase the number of community organisers.

Staffordshire County Council working with Community Organisers Ltd has been an important part of the thinking with government to expand the programme from the current 6,500 to 10,000.

Gill Heath, Cabinet Member for Communities at Staffordshire County Council said:

“It’s really exciting news that we are going to see even more community organisers in Staffordshire and having such a positive impact on people’s lives.

“Local communities often better understand the issues affecting their own neighbourhoods and often have the solutions. But often communities need a bit of help to pull it together. This is where Community organisers can help identify and inspire local people to bring people together to take action.

“We want Staffordshire to be a great place to live, with strong and resilient communities that work for everyone. We’re proud to have been part of the community organiser work which complements our ‘People Helping People’ programme which gives more power back to local communities.”

Community organiser, Ross Podyma runs Sporting Communities who promote sports, play and recreation activities across the county. Ross said:

“This is excellent news and means we will now be able to expand our program to reach even more children and families, co-designing services with communities so they have a stake in where they live. We look forward also to training NCS graduates in the future so they have the necessary skills to take forward even more social action projects.”

Staffordshire County Council will be working with Community Organisers Ltd who have been awarded the contract from the Office of Civil Society, part of the Department of Culture Media and Sport. The programme hopes to train 10,000 Community Organisers by 2020 and has produced a toolkit to help deliver the scheme.

Nick Gardham, CEO of Community Organisers Ltd said:

“This is a fantastic opportunity to build on the foundation from the previous programme. This expansion will strengthen the existing network of Community Organisers and increase the numbers of people taking action in Staffordshire to transform their communities for good.”

Staffordshire will also play host to the national community organisers conference taking place in Yarnfield Park, Yarnfield later in the year.

Anyone interested in becoming a Community Organiser can find out more at www.corganisers.org.uk