Barnsley leading the way on Loving where you Live
Barnsley is one of seven pioneering local authorities that are adapting the Cities of Service model of impact volunteering with support from Nesta and the Cabinet Office. Since joining the programme in January 2014, Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council has worked with Voluntary Action Barnsley, partners and the community to develop and implement the Love Where You Live campaign to mobilise residents to take action to transform their neighbourhood.
National Volunteers’ Week on 1–7 June marks the start of Barnsley's Volunteering Month led by the Love Where You Live campaign and Voluntary Action Barnsley. Volunteering Month will promote the various opportunities on offer as well as celebrating the contribution that volunteers make towards the local area. Here, Joe Micheli, Lead Locality Officer for Barnsley MBC, tells us more about it.
What is Love Where You Live?
Love Where You Live (LWYL) was introduced last June to coincide with National Volunteers week to inspire residents across Barnsley to volunteer and to get involved in community action initiatives that contribute to making Barnsley a great place to live.
We wanted the LWYL identity to be seen wherever people are volunteering and making an active contribution to improving Barnsley and working alongside public services. LWYL has a focus on improving the environment; however the brand has gone viral and is being used to promote all types of volunteering and social action.
Why 'Love Where You Live'?
The Love Where You Live brand was chosen by local volunteers and the voluntary and community sector as the brand for the campaign as it built on the strong sense of community pride residents have and also linked to the pride in the environment priority that had been identified by our Ward Alliances. The Ward Alliances, which were set up in 2013, bring together Councillors and volunteers to address local challenges through community action.
What have you achieved since launching last June? What difference has it made?
The campaign has been a fantastic success, with to date a total of 3,084 volunteers involved in our Pride in the Environment and Let’s Grow initiatives. This reflects 14,500 volunteer hours and an economic value of £161k. An amazing 3,458 bags of rubbish have been collected through the many community clean up projects helping to improve areas of blight and local assets including parks and community gardens. National Community Clean Up Day contributed to this mammoth clean up on 21 March, when 23 events took place, engaging over 333 volunteers.
What do you have planned for this year's Volunteer Month?
Building on last year’s success, a calendar of volunteering and social action events has been developed for our Volunteering Month of June. To date, this includes 50 community events providing local volunteering opportunities, and it’s rising by the day. These include community clean-ups, community allotment projects, the refurbishment of community centres, community garden projects, and projects to improve local parks.
We hope to have a strong focus on youth social action this year, building on the successful engagement of young people and families in last year’s campaign. We also hope to create opportunities for young people to engage in youth social action linked to the #IWill campaign, which has been welcomed by the Barnsley Youth Council. These opportunities will include fundraising, campaigning, intergenerational work, environmental action and sports development.
We have also introduced a Love Where You Live award as part of the prestigious Proud of Barnsley Awards, which recognise people like Ernie Oliver, aged 92, who has vowed to continue helping his community until he’s 100! He is actively involved in Love Where You Live projects in his neighbourhood of Cudworth, painting, planting flowers, sweeping paths and picking up litter, despite his severe arthritis.
Councillor Jenny Platts, Cabinet Spokesperson for Communities, hopes that volunteering month can be the first step for people thinking about what they can do to follow Ernie’s example.
'You don’t have to commit to hours of time every week – any bit of time you can spare will help.'