Demonstrating the value of voluntary actions
For many people, being shown the community impact of their activity is extremely important.
Knowing the value of an activity, and how that activity makes a tangible difference to your community and the people who live around you, is a strong motivating force for people’s involvement says Joe Micheli, Head of Commissioning (Early Intervention, Prevention & Community Development), York City Council.
How can we enable more people in later life to get involved – and stay involved – in their communities as they grow older?
That’s the challenge addressed by a recent review of Community Contributions in Later Life. One important answer is by ensuring that everyone participates in voluntary activity feels like their contribution is meaningful – and is valued and appreciated.
In York, we passionately believe that supporting people to help others in their communities must be at the heart of how we approach the challenge facing communities across our city. Our joint strategy, People Helping People, was published just under a year ago and sets out our ambition for putting social action and volunteering at the heart of our approach to tackling challenges in the city.
In York, we passionately believe that supporting people to help others in their communities must be at the heart of how we approach the challenge facing communities across our city.
As a local authority, we see this as part of a broader shift away from councils simply identifying problems and trying to provide services to solve them, towards collaboration and identifying opportunities to work together to change things for the better in our communities.
That’s why we have become a ‘City of Service’, an approach that supports city leaders to share power and tap into the knowledge, creativity and skills of citizens to help solve public problems and create a vibrant city. We have placed co-production at the heart of what we do and are also investing in asset-based approaches including Local Area Coordination to support people as valued citizens in their communities, to take action and pursue their vision for a good life, to stay safe, strong, connected, healthy and in control.
It’s an approach that the review team identified as leading the way for other local authorities across the country – and that they believe has potential to enable a more diverse group of older people to get involved and remain involved.
Showing the value of community contributions
Knowing the value of an activity, and how that activity makes a tangible difference to your community and the people who live around you, is a strong motivating force for people’s involvement.
And we have seen the power of approaches like Local Area Coordination in engaging people who might not consider themselves 'volunteers' to get involved in making things happen when they see the benefits it can bring.
The review argues strongly that local authorities have a critical role to play, both in setting a culture of contribution in their local areas, and in helping people understand and access the full range of opportunities open to them in their community for getting involved and making a difference.
Over the coming months, City of York Council will be working as part of a Government funded programme called Enabling Social Action to build on what we’ve already learnt and to share our learning with others.
We hope that other areas will find our learning useful as they start to make the shift from service provider to enabler.