Over the last few few years we have been working in partnership with The Big Local to seek to safeguard the use of the Community Centre for the local community and to run our joint Pop-Up Cinema. The Big Local now has a new  Community Development Manager, Michal Siewniak, who has written this guest blog post on his new venture… 

So…after leaving Watford and Three Rivers Trust only couple of weeks ago, my new adventure has already started!

The process of setting/ re-settling is going well and there is a lot to learn and listen to! I have embarked upon a really interesting and exciting project which is all about community development, an area of charity work which is very close to my heart.

So what is Big Local?

Big Local is a project funded by the Big Lottery Fund. It is all about transforming communities in most deprived areas in England. Transforming of the local community can be defined and measured in a lot of different ways however in this case, it is all about creating long lasting legacy and positive difference in each of 150 Big Local areas.

What is so unique about it?

There are a lot of different community development models in place. Most of them have been probably tried out. Some worked better than others. I think that the reason why this programme will work well is that the Big Local is a resident’s led project. It is the local community who decides how to spend the money given to each of the Bog Local areas. It is the community who needs to work out the best ways of engagement with local residents. It is the community who needs to come up with a plan which will help to deliver tangible outcomes. It is the community who needs to be confident enough to run this initiative which is all about changing lives! It is the community, with the help from other organisations, who needs to identify local needs and seek ways in which they should be addressed. Finally, it is the local community who must ‘utilize’ the skills and talents of the local population! And in Wormley and Turnford – there is plenty of that!

The beauty of this project is the way it is set up. Each Big Local area has a local trusted partner who is the ‘legal and accountable body’ of the partnership (in Broxbourne, it is CVS for Broxbourne and East Herts). A real, transparent and strong partnership is at the heart of this project. As I have mentioned above, the project is resident’s led however the local community in each area can and should rely on local partners and stakeholders. By doing so, the Big Local projects strengthen collaboration of local agencies and creates a long lasting legacy of the Big Local initiative.

What is my role within the project?

In this role, I am tasked with building community cohesion by developing opportunities for all residents of Wormley and Turnford. I am also helping to develop Wormley and Turnford Local partnership ensuring that it reflects the diversity of the local community. This role requires an effective development of wide range of mechanisms for measuring success, evaluation and monitoring of the project. I am also responsible for recruitment of local residents and communities in Wormley and Turnford in order to increase the involvement of other stakeholders and organisations. As a Community Development Manager, I am also involved in bringing in match and in-kind funding to support the Big Local aims and objectives and strengthen partnership working between residents on the local partnership and local providers from the statutory and voluntary sector. Finally, I am responsible for responsible for legacy, sustainability of the programme as well as overseeing and developing the operation of community buildings and assets.

So…my first full week in Broxbourne is going really quickly! I have met the Chairman, some members of the partnership and I hope that this ‘community adventure’ will help us to empower many people and change, for better, many lives! There is a drive, there is passion and commitment from residents and other local partners and I am sure that this will project will be another opportunity to make a REAL difference.

Michal Siewniak

Community Development Manager, Wormley and Turnford Big Local

Michal’s Big Local blog can be found on the Wormley and Turnford Big Local’s website here: http://www.wtbiglocal.org.uk/michals-blog/