It’s Your Neighbourhood is South & South East in Blooms major community participation programme and is run on behalf of the RHS Britain in Bloom Campaigns. This programme focuses on community participation.
When you form an ‘It’s Your Neighbourhood’ group and begin work you should set your own goals which should be suited to your local needs – what follows below are ideas to help illustrate activities relevant to each pillar, not rules to be followed nor to-do lists to be ticked off. Entries are welcome for new or existing groups.
When deciding your goals, you should consider whether these are realistic and manageable and whether the work is relevant to the core pillars. If you are a newly formed group, your first set of goals may relate to things such as forming a group, deciding on a project, consulting with the wider community and so on. Then as the work of the group progresses so should the goals with the focus being increasingly on getting jobs done that move the project from initial ideas and planning to actual delivery and results. The examples below are just suggestions and assessors will also consider where your group started, the challenges that you faced and how far you have come.
It’s Your Neighbourhood is part of the wider RHS Britain in Bloom initiative, but it is not competitive; benchmarking levels are used to recognise and applaud the achievements of the participants as well as to provide them with some feedback and guidance for the future.
The assessors are there as mentors and friends – not as judges – and you should take advantage of their visit to get constructive feedback. The assessors benchmark your achievements in the areas of the core pillars by considering how much you have already achieved and how much more you could do given your unique circumstances.
Community participation is about working together for the benefit of the local area, and it may or may not involve participants in the physical work; community participation can also include fundraising, moral support, provision of facilities and resources, publicising activities, and many other activities.
There are no size limits – a group is more than one! Larger groups may sub-divide into smaller groups with objectives (i.e. involving children/young people; developing community gardening activities; providing refreshments, making leaflets/posters etc). A group may not have large numbers of active workers or “official” members, but they may be engaging others in their various projects and activities on a casual, drop-in/drop-out basis. In other words, groups will come in many sizes and have as many different structures as possible; the key is that even if there are only one or two key players driving the project they are already engaging with other members of the community in some way or seeking ways in which to do so in the future.
It does not matter what type of community participation takes place – only that it is positive and involves local people in the process of improving their area.
Environmental responsibility is about care for your local area and where possible minimising adverse impacts on the environment. It may encompass aspects such as cleanliness of the streets and pavements or reducing use of natural resources. It is about the direct effects that people working at local level can achieve, and not about factors such as waste collection by the local authority.
The contents of this section will be completely dependent on the nature of your local area and should always be relevant and appropriate to your needs and to the wishes of the community. At all stages there should be consideration given to good gardening or conservation practices that suit local needs. The conservation or gardening should enhance the locality for the community and should be within your ability to develop and manage over the medium to long term.
There are a total number of marks allocated to each section and the sections correspond to the objectives of its Your Neighbourhood. There are no sub-sections with allocated scores; the assessor evaluates the section as a whole.
The items listed within each section are simply suggestions of things that you could/should be doing for that core pillar; you do not have to be doing all or even most of them to earn a top mark for the section. The assessor needs to gauge how much has already been done against how much could be done by your group and under the conditions present. The assessor will also consider if, in relation to the objectives, you are just starting out (Establishing) or if you have achieved something truly outstanding (Outstanding), or if you are somewhere on the spectrum in between (i.e. Improving, Developing, Thriving).
Levels of achievement – overall marks:
Assessors awards a score based on the Neighbourhoods achievements in achieving the following:
- Community Participation (40%)
- Environmental Responsibility (30%)
- Gardening/Conservation Achievement (30%)
The percentage given after each section refers to how much each area accounts for when assessing a group/project’s benchmarking level.