Remember the Big Society?

That many more people are living out their full span of years is a wonderful thing but it also brings with it a greater risk of loneliness and isolation.

In Campden ward Open Age and Kensington and Chelsea Forum for Older Residents have been keenly aware of that risk and have been running regular lunches, events and day trips for the local elderly.  And it’s not just Campden that has such active citizens and such energetic voluntary organisations.

In Norland and Colville for example, Age UK Kensington and Chelsea is also running regular lunch clubs for older residents.

Up in Golborne meanwhile, Somali women have got a bit of a sewing circle going.  It’s a social event but useful skills are also being acquired.  Nearby, Moroccan women have been getting some IT training. Down in Hans Town, ward Councillors backed proposals to restore a World War One memorial at beautiful Holy Trinity and the Chelsea Society is putting on a ‘Chelsea in the Great War’ exhibition.

Over in Royal Hospital, West London Churches Homeless Concern has been trying to help street homeless with a night shelter, laundry and washing facilities, plus other advice and support.

It’s heart-warming and worthwhile stuff I think. And actually these are just a handful of the projects being helped through our City Living, Local Life (CLLL) programme which has enabled literally hundreds of small community projects in all parts of our borough.

Each ward has had up to £20k a year to spend, not a lot in the scheme of things, but put that together with a bit of councillor know-how and community can-do and it’s surprising what can be achieved.

And when it comes to community projects, CLLL is far from the only game in town.

Check out our community kitchen garden scheme for example which now has over 500 plots being tended by residents, so many in fact that it is now more of a kitchen garden movement than a kitchen garden scheme. What better way of meeting the neighbours and getting the generations to talk to each other over the compost.

And of course there are also our two new local mutuals which I have blogged about previously.

But Royal Borough residents are not only getting involved, they are getting better organised and taking a bigger say in decision making and, contrary to what some might expect, that is something we actually want to enable, not frustrate

Some examples:

  • Well run residents associations can apply for the ‘gold standard’ award helping them to carry greater clout when it comes to representing the interests of their members.
  • We are also supporting a number of neighbourhoods that want to use powers under the localism act designed to give residents a greater say in the development of planning policies for their areas.
  • The Council going out and talking directly to residents about issues affecting their lives. The ‘Ask Nick‘ events are just one example.

You know, when I think about all of this: of all our fantastic community projects, of our residents volunteering and getting involved, of them speaking up and taking a greater say in decision-making, and of our two new mutuals, I’m dimly reminded of something from way back but give me a minute and I’m sure it will come to me…