Making a real impact in our communities

08 November 2018

We recently celebrated the success of a number of residents who achieved a qualification as part of our Community Connectors Course.

Since 2015 LiveWest has been helping residents to learn more about the real benefits of what community empowerment does, and how we work to support those individuals who want to get the necessary training. As we felt that there is only so much that can be taught in the classroom, we selected an actual ‘work-based-learning model’ which would allow us to work alongside learners to deliver a project in the community in which they live.

The qualification accredited through the National Open College Network (NOCN) leading to a course which was designed to national standards in community development and that learners should gain a qualification recognised anywhere in England and Wales.

The certificate is regarded as an ‘entry into employment’ qualification and would support learners who might want to move on into voluntary or paid employment.

The course gave the residents the opportunity to grow and develop as they considered both the practical reality of the infrastructure that goes into building community events and activities but also learn the skills and knowledge needed to include, engage and build community interaction. 

Stepping out of their comfort zones gave all learners the chance to face challenges head on.  As well as learning the theory in the classroom, learners worked in their own time at home, and work in their communities to deliver great community projects. They had to plan and run a live community project to achieve the NOCN Level 2 standard. Assessment of these was given by our Community Empowerment Officers. 

There have been some inspirational activities within our communities which is so important as they:

- Build community cohesion
- Help bring communities together
- Support neighbourhood improvements
- Preserve and improve our environment and
- Develop local services.

Of the forty or so graduates from this course, we are really pleased that three have gone on into employment related to community development and that most graduates continue to use their skills and knowledge to benefit of their communities.

The presentation ceremony in our office in Worle gave us the great chance to celebrate the success of our learners who had just completed our third course and received their certificates.

Kate Sheppard, Community Empowerment Officer at LiveWest, said “Being project lead on the Community Connectors Course has been one of the most rewarding aspects of my role as a Community Empowerment Officer at LiveWest.

"The impact we have had on the lives of our residents and their communities has been so positive, with residents using this qualification to change career paths, build their confidence and make significant changes to their quality of living.

"The course has been proof of how the investment of time and resources can make a huge difference to our developments, changing them from ‘estates’ to real living communities.”

Steve Andrews, Community Empowerment Team Manager at LiveWest, said “After nine months of hard work by learners, and LiveWest colleagues from Community Empowerment acting as Tutors, Mentors and Assessors, it was fantastic to see our Customers receive their qualifications in Community Development.

"In achieving their qualifications, all learners have designed and delivered community based projects, ensuring the benefit of this work has already been spread within our neighborhoods and the wider community.

"The course has been running for three years now, and over 40 residents have attained a nationally recognised qualification – a life changing accomplishment.”

The participants were awarded a level 2 NVQ in Community Development, which was presented by our Chair, Linda Nash.

Linda said “Hearing about the studies presented on awards day I’ve was impressed by the wide variety and how positively individuals have embraced learning for a wider purpose than self-improvement.

"The mentoring and assessment and becoming a tutor learner has also given valuable experience for our own community empowerment officers, learning from each other and improving the communities in which we live.

"Today people talk about the importance of a healthy diet, regular exercise, recreation and work all contributing to overall well-being. Research tells us that giving back to the community and the positive feelings experienced can be just as important as to how well we feel.

"I heard some wonderful examples today of individuals being inspired, included and involved. What impressed me most was the confidence and enthusiasm from every graduate wanting to continue to build on this learning for themselves and their community.”

Among those celebrated were Dave Page, Hayley Ward, Jan Bohin, Michelle Jones, Nicola Carruthers, Gary Hunt, Lucinda Spelman Ives and Sibusiso Tshabalala.

A huge well done to you all and we hope it leads to some great successes which we really look forward to hearing about and sharing in the future.