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Dreams, barriers, what helps: what we need

The following is a list of views expressed by local leaders during Conversations held with Ceri Buckmaster between Monday 11th January and Sunday 17th January 2016 with people who came forward after an email sent by Victoria Sherwin at the beginning of January. She agreed with participants that what they said would be confidential and although she would extract key points from what they said, for the benefit of moving forward, who said the points wouldn’t be able to be identified. Agreeing this helped to build trust and safety and gave participants the opportunity to freely express.

Dream / vision

  • My goal is Bringing community together, to express themselves. It hurts me when the community isn’t together.
  • I’m an information giver. I dream of a place where information is freely shared.
  • My goal is for connection. Meeting different kinds of people is so special.
  • My dream is to have a cultural hub where people get together and talk about ideas over food.
  • My vision is to have a place where I feel safe for direct, truthful, warm, loving, nurturing things to happen.


  • One problem is when people don’t acknowledge limitations, things they can’t see.    
  • One big problem is bad governance that doesn’t give clear Guidelines, working practices, procedures. We need very clear guidelines to safeguard against bad financial decisions.
  • I have huge fears about my future in this area, is housing safe?
  • When good things aren’t acknowledged, it’s disheartening.
  • I don’t have the resources to deal with conflict.
  • I find it very difficult to speak up to people I don’t agree with
  • Cliqueness is a danger. Lack of information sharing. Lack of understanding about organisations and what they do and the roles of people within organisations.
  • Lack of trust gets in the way of listening
  • Living with the consequences of bad public decision making
  • There are longstanding issues and a lot of hurt . It becomes such a long time that it’s not aired, that it becomes huge.
  • Having an idea but not having support to make it happen
  • Not having a place to store stuff for our project
  • Not having the right resources to deliver a project
  • Not hearing from everyone, black people aren’t heard.
  • People being all smiles but we don’t get anywhere in conversation
  • People coming into area and not engaging with local people, us not being seen
  • People feel safer not engaging … engaging is too hard
  • People not turning up to meetings
  • People objecting to ideas but not having alternatives. People not being clear about what their objection is.
  • People, organisations or council forcing things through with disregard for the good things being done.
  • Time frame around funding … too short a time to deliver a decent project. You can’t change people overnight. Need time to get the job done properly.
  • People not taught to state what they need.
  • We are living with the consequences of bad public decision making
  • You don’t say things as you think it will be the end of the relationship
  • The meetings just don’t work. People sit through all meetings until Any Other Business to raise their points.
  • We haven’t asked each other why we are involved. What are our aims and objectives? What hours are you willing to volunteer? Are you willing to knock on doors? What are the guidelines for communicating with each other? How would you like to be contacted?
  • No one is calling me up and saying ‘how are we going to do this?’ I’m an underused resource.
  • I do know how to do stuff but maybe I just know a white middle class way of doing things.
  • We haven’t talked about Where we agree/disagree, What we know, What we don’t know. f you don’t know you don’t know, you can’t ask for what you need.  
  • What is lacking in Vassall and Coldharbour is Identity. What’s the identity of the area?
  • I’m always very pissed off about exploitation of volunteers. Doing work for nothing. Community ‘consultations’.

What helps

  • The residents keep me going. Being able to contribute to other people.
  • Having a space to meet helps unite people
  • Working on projects with other organisations helps unite.
  • Doing things with people, knowing they are reliable, testing each other out.
  • Getting positive feedback from people
  • Having our names on each other’s projects, can share each other’s success and holds against competitiveness.
  • Encouraging and celebrating the people who want to help.

What we need

(the following is a mix of essential qualities and strategies to meet these)

  • a process for reconciliation
  • a team, teamwork is my drive
  • being recognised and acknowledged for work.
  • business support, especially for black businesses
  • clarity, clear communication of objections
  • mutual support
  • Need new blood. Need to enable voices who never realised they could do something. So when someone says “I’d like to organise xyz” they are given support to do so.
  • Need to engage young men. “What is it you want and can contribute?”
  • new ideas about how to engage people or meet people
  • simplicity of aims and process
  • To encourage people to get it all out, air their views, ‘Clear the Air’ sessions … Need to talk safely about what you’re not happy about without fear of attack.
  • to feel at ease, comfortable, welcome
  • transparency
  • VACF needs to be a structure where anyone can give information and suggest things.
  • What we need is more chasing up of jobs eg A response will be given within 24 hours of repair request being made, telling when the job will be done.
  • What we need is clear documentation of what needs to be done, all written done, (often on the record, is a different thing altogether)
  • What we need is a process to check the work has been done. Someone supervising. Someone making the system accountable.
  • We need more input and skills on how to negotiate and communicate.
  • Need to empower people who have an idea, how to set up, how to articulate a project, book keeping, business planning, marketing, mentoring (encouragement!)
  • Need a masterplan … crucial to refer back to. A vision and overview for the neighbourhood. Needs to be up for review.
  • Need board of trustees with specific skills and creative thinking. (too much experience of victim mentality, getting bogged down, no change)
  • Need endless community events to unite a whole neighbourhood.