Harbouring renewal

It is now recognised that local people must be
at the centre of regeneration if it is to work. And for that to happen, funds
must be channelled to myriad projects and groups, and new partnerships forged.
Head of regeneration Dawn Baxendale explains the approach in Portsmouth.

It may seem odd that a person
responsible for regenerating a city should be writing about working with young
people and their families. The traditional approach to regeneration and
economic development has very much been centred on bricks and mortar, on the
basis that if we build enough small business starter units, get the roads in
reasonable shape and implement some environmental improvements to the local
area, then we will have done our job.

We now know that the traditional approach isn’t
enough. The Audit Commission in 1999 highlighted the fact that in the last 30
years, if we look at the wards that are defined in the government’s indices of
deprivation, there has been very little change in the areas that are classified
as “in need”, although substantial resources have been targeted at these areas
over a considerable period.

The approach we are taking in Portsmouth is
different. We believe that to have a real impact in regenerating your local
area, you need to concentrate on the most important resource in your area, the
people. We are trying, in the words of our slogan, to “make a real difference”
to the people and the wider communities that they live in. The government has
recognised our ground-breaking work through awarding Portsmouth beacon council
status for neighbourhood renewal for 2002-3.

The key to our approach has been through:

– Listening to what people say they want and

– Informing agencies of the needs of the
community and looking at the pressures that the agencies are under to deliver
operational targets.

– Setting clear strategic outcomes that the
community and the agencies understand and have signed up to.

– Moulding government programmes to meet our
local outcomes as well as the government targets.

– Involving the community in real
decision-making including the delegation of resources.

– Delivering on the ground through a number of
different partners.

– Understanding that working in partnership
enables limited resources to have a much greater impact.

– Communicating what we are doing to as many
people as will listen and getting the community representatives to feed back to
their respective communities.

Through my role as head of regeneration, I have
been able to co-ordinate the substantial resources that are available in the
city through the single regeneration budget (SRB), Children’s Fund/On Track,
neighbourhood renewal funds and UK Online to deliver targeted services. This
has meant working closely with mainstream funders and enabling residents in the
community to influence those services at both a local and strategic level.

At a strategic level we have recently received
accreditation for our local strategic partnership (LSP) which has evolved from
the Portsmouth Regeneration Board. The LSP will have 50 per cent representation
from the voluntary and community sector, with elections taking place at the end
of June. The community will have a strong voice at this senior level. But this
has not happened without preparation. Portsmouth’s communities have been
through a comprehensive empowerment programme in the past two and half years
through the development of the community boards in the city.

At a local level we have five community boards
covering the most deprived wards in the city which between them account for
43,000 people. They are made up of a minimum of 50 per cent residents with the
remainder from agencies that the communities themselves feel they need a
dialogue with or who bring important services to their localities. The
community boards all have a chief officer from the city council and an elected
member from the relevant ward participating. All the boards have delegated
power to authorise expenditure of up to £50,000 from the SRB.

The most recently formed community board is the
one for Paulsgrove & Wymering. Paulsgrove, or course, was famously
characterised in national newspapers last year as an estate some of whose
residents were determined to drive out paedophiles at any price. This board has
a very strong resident base and has agency representatives from the city
council in the form of the head of leisure, the housing department, the
Children’s Fund, the primary care trust, the police, King Richard’s secondary
school, early years services, and local businesses, as well as being attended
by the local ward councillor. The board has formed three sub groups, which are
dealing with very specific issues. These are:

– Children and families

– Health

– Community newspaper.

The health sub-group has been an excellent
example of how the wishes and needs of the community can be turned into
reality. As part of the needs analysis for the development of the SRB bid to
the regional development agency, residents clearly stated that there were major
issues around the health agenda in the area. The primary care trust was asked
to join a small sub-group of the community board to look at how solutions could
be found.

In Portsmouth as elsewhere the health service,
in its many forms, is not known for its proactive working. But our primary care
trust responded very positively to this request and over the last nine months a
comprehensive plan for a healthy living centre has been drawn up. Furthermore,
resources have been approved from the SRB – subject to the approval of the
regional development agency – matched with funding from the primary care trust
and other partners to deliver the following in the heart of the community:

– An independent IT-based health information
touchscreen (including a link to NHS Direct).

– A health information service.

– A signposting service to statutory, voluntary
and support groups.

– A community arts programme.

– Community café based on healthy eating.

– Portsmouth City Council information point.

– Community police base.

Services have been developed such as:

– Foot care (podiatry).

– Well women clinics.

– Counselling (adults).

– Community paediatric clinic/school medicals.

– Baby sleep clinic.

– Child behaviour clinics.

– Baby clinic.

– Teenage pregnancy advice/contraception advice.

– Minor injuries clinic.

The children and families sub-group has a
similar success story to tell. Andy Gill, the Children’s Fund manager and
parent Helen Izzard, give their views about services delivered to children and
families in Paulsgrove elsewhere. The key role of the sub-group has been to
ensure that the planning structures are kept clear and uncomplicated; that
services are appropriately targeted; and that the residents’ voices can be
heard on the children and young people’s partnership board. This partnership is
one of the key partnerships underneath the LSP which has the enormous task of
delivering on the promise of another slogan – “one vision and one plan” – for
children and young people’s services in the city.

Thanks to the commitment and the participation
of the city’s communities and its agencies, we believe we have a recipe for
success. All it takes is partnership and dialogue.

Baxendale is head of Portsmouth Regeneration

For more information and for details of Portsmouth’s
beacon open days contact Dawn Baxendale on

Positive factors

Paulsgrove estate resident Helen Izzard
describes what On Track has done for her and her children.

I am a parent from Paulsgrove with
five children from five to 12 years old. I moved from Buckinghamshire to
Paulsgrove in Portsmouth last year.

This is how I got involved with On Track. I was
approached in the playground and asked if I would like to consider attending a
six-week course that was running in Paulsgrove Primary School funded through On
Track and Portsmouth social services. It was called Parents Factor 85.

I agreed to go with the aim of meeting other
parents and hoping to increase my knowledge of parenting skills. I attended the
course and feel that I have learned a considerable amount, although I have five
children and have plenty of experience of parenting!

In November last year I went to a launch day
held by On Track. The event was free with food, children’s entertainment and an
opportunity to meet with the On Track providers who held a “market place”
displaying their services.  

Then in February I was invited by the On Track
Support team to a coffee morning held in Paulsgrove Community Centre. It was a
useful experience in terms of getting to know other people and learning about
what was going on in the local area for my family.

I was invited to apply for a position as a
facilitator by Parents Factor 85. I was successful and attended training run by
David Love, who co-ordinates the project. The idea is to train parents and
local people to support other parents in their community. I found the training
a very positive experience and felt it raised my confidence and self-esteem. I
feel I have discovered new talents and feel empowered to help my community. I
have even been involved in a delegation that met the Home Office minister for
young people, John Denham. One of the keys to success is to offer positive
parenting and to work at your relationship with your children, seeking advice
and support when needed. Knowing where to go for advice and support is crucial
and I am confident that my children’s schools and the On Track support team are
approachable and supportive.

Izzard is a resident and parent of Paulsgrove.

Early warning system

Andy Gill describes how On Track
Paulsgrove and Wymering is intervening to prevent young people from offending.

On Track Paulsgrove and Wymering has
been fully operational for just over a year and has a specific emphasis on the
long-term prevention of youth offending through early intervention. It became
part of the wider Children’s Fund in April 2001. There are 18 service level
agreements with other agencies to provide support in the home, school and the
community at large to reduce the risk factors of children turning to crime as
they get older.

Services have been developed within the
community at the point of need and the On Track support team operates out of a
shop-front office where families can drop in to chat about accessing provision
such as child behaviour support, parenting skills, mental health advice and
classroom-based programmes – the one-stop shop approach, as it is often called.

The referral system is simple and needs -led.
The language is about keeping our children on track and out of trouble.
Underlying it is the message that by working with community strengths we can
achieve more. The developing resident-based children and families sub-group of
the local community board is testament to the value of collaboration. The key
message is that we all have a responsibility and role to play in cracking youth
crime and that crime robs our children of the opportunity for them to achieve
their full potential. The agreed community outcomes reflect this philosophy.

The agreed outcomes are that children and young
people should grow up:

– Having an equal say in any development.

– Healthy.

– Emotionally secure and confident.

– Having succeeded as far as they can at school.

– Having facilities to play safely.

– Having stayed out of trouble.

– Living in a safe place.

– Having the opportunity to succeed in
achieving their dreams.

Outcomes achieved at this early stage are very
encouraging: overall offending is down by 19 per cent; in one school there has
been a 12 per cent decrease in lateness; children receiving On Track support
are displaying less aggressive antisocial behaviour and are less likely to be

Linked to crime prevention and inter-agency
planning, our early experience is indicating the value of community engagement,
joining up initiatives holistically so we are meeting the needs of our children
and young people, encouraging a culture of innovation and creativity,
streamlining planning structures, and ensuring we have meaningful evaluation of
what works so we can develop evidence-based approaches.

Our aspiration and commitment is to develop one
vision and one plan for Portsmouth’s children which places the needs of children
and families at the heart of the inter-agency planning process and provides a
meaningful structure for the local community to participate and own. Winning
hearts and minds is critical.

Andy Gill is head of the Children’s Fund for

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