A Week in the Life of a Community Builder
Hi, I am Emily, a part-time Community Builder in Malvern Hills District. This 'week in the life' blog just gives you an idea of what to expect from the Community Builder role.
I start the week at home. The role tends to be an 80/20 split with around 20% of the time on admin, catching up on emails but also making a note of actions from visits, chasing up on things, making plans for the next few weeks so I tend to start the week this way. This usually starts with a diary check and making sure everything is in place for the week ahead. Then I check emails from the weekend. Working with community groups and organisations means that the emails don't just stop on a Friday, so it's good to just have a look over the emails before getting started.
I have an online catch-up with a community member wanting to set up a community group and an organisation who I hope can support them with this. This is off the back of meeting the community member a few weeks ago, when out and about, and we got chatting about what they'd like to do. As well as putting them in touch with an organisation who I think can help, I also pulled together a list of resources and funding pots that might be of interest.
Out and about today. I often use public transport, so it's always a good insight into how easy it is for residents to get in and out of a place when coming in on the bus/train/bike etc. Today I am in Tenbury for a community group coffee morning. I was invited along to talk about how I could support this group with finding funding.
After getting back home, I attend a Teams catch-up with my colleague to discuss an upcoming meeting. I find it is always good to prep for meetings like this in advance, identifying the purpose of the upcoming meeting and planning accordingly with the information we can provide, the support we can give and also what more we need to know as well as the resources that would be appropriate to have to hand.
I then have a bit of time before finishing to just research some resources to find helpful connections and advice for the Tenbury community group, whom I met this morning. For example I might email other similar groups for advice or email local organisations who might be able to support. This includes checking our own asset lists that we have created and add to when we meet new people or groups.
Today we have organised to be based out of a village hall in Martley. We have advertised a time for people to be able to drop in for a chat and have also organised for the district councillor to come along to meet us and chat about the area.
The conversation with the councillor went well and we got a good idea of what was happening in and around Martley. The drop in coffee and chat didn't work that well as perhaps we hadn't advertised it enough or perhaps that kind of activity/time doesn't work for local people, so we went for a walk about and chatted to people we bumped in to in the park and local shop. This is often part of the role, where we plan to do something but if that doesn't necessarily fit with the community then we look to adapt to get the very best out of a visit. Some young people were playing football so we asked them some questions and it turned out they would all love to have a Rugby club locally, this is something we can now look in to getting set up in the community.
Off to a training day with the Worcestershire Asset Based Community Development team. This is where all of the community builders come together and learn techniques and strategies for the role as well as having a chance to ask questions and support each other. There are over 20 community builders across Worcestershire now so it's always good to get together from time to time and share stories and learning. We are all relatively new to post so it helps to have a group of people experiencing the same things as you. We can learn from each other but also support one another.
In the council office today. Community builders all work for different organisations across Worcestershire. For me that is Malvern Hills District Council's Community Services team. Again, having a team of colleagues there to support is great and I join a team meeting to find out what everyone is up to and also share what I am doing.
I then have a catch-up with the community builder team involved in Upton. We held a community voice coffee morning last week and did some door knocking, so there's lots to catch-up on and we review the many notes, post-its and postcards completed by the 30 residents who showed up to the coffee morning to discuss what they love about Upton and what they'd like to see more of. There are some clear themes coming out of the feedback, so we group these together and all agree on who will look into what area. For instance, if we have a few residents saying they would like to see a walking group set up then we would contact them and ask if they'd be comfortable with us putting them in touch. We may even organise the first walk as most of us are trained walk leaders.
We keep lists of community groups, businesses etc of every new area we work in, which we tend to call 'asset lists' so I spend an hour or so just updating our list for Upton based on our recent interactions
with a particular emphasis on those that embrace and engage in community off the back of our conversations and meetings. All of these connections are absolutely crucial to us as community builders. We are here to support communities who want to develop their ideas so whenever we meet a new group or person wanting to get involved, we always make a note of it.
I always end the week by write up my monitoring form for the week. Some community builders do this on a monthly basis and it is just a case of recording things like how many learning conversations you've had during the week, any new groups or activities formed etc and it helps us to evidence the difference our role can and does make.
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