Connecting local responses around the world
Celebrating the Local Response as an Important Resource for the Community
– a SALT approach for the transfer of local response
Beyond Social Services, Singapore
Everything has a life span. All groups and their endeavours who wish to remain relevant would do well to picture themselves within a life cycle from inception to closing. Stages in between would be development, maturity and redefining relevance. We felt that the local response in the 5 different neighbourhoods we operate had matured somewhat and we needed to refresh the situation to stall off decline and closing. We are glad to see that by doing so, the number of residents who were willing to assume responsibility and leadership for endeavours in their neighbourhood increased slightly to 133 from 124 this time last year.
1. Facilitating Neighbourhood General Meetings
We supported each neighbourhood to organise a general meeting which exhibited the work of their local response over the past 3 years. This work was presented through briefs of past activities, photographs and profiles of local leaders. Posters as well as short video clips were presented by the local response team and in the spirit of a celebration, food and drinks were served. The meeting proper was a conversation that surfaced current concerns and possible action steps
2. Compiling Neighbourhood Reports
The information collated for these meetings were collated into Neighbourhood Reports with a view of residents receiving a copy to remind them of their collective achievements. Though completed, we received feedback that the initial designs would not go down well. As we wanted it to be a document that the neighbourhood would be proud of, we are currently redesigning them with the help of volunteers.
3. Affirming Local Response
When we learnt that the President’s Volunteerism & Philanthropy Awards were inviting nominations, we worked with our local response to put in an application for the Kampong Spirit Award which is the Community Spirit Award. None of the 5 neighbourhoods won but we believe that the process of applying reinforced the sense of pride and confidence that strengthens local response.
4. Linking Local Responses
With the local response in each neighbourhood confident and proud of their achievements, we thought it was timely to introduce them to each other. We held a gathering and explained that coming together was an opportunity to build new friendships where people learnt together and inspired each other. This was well received and members requested for opportunities to develop and learn skills that would help them carry out the work in their neighbourhoods.
5. Positioning Local Response as an Important Community Resource
In supporting families faced with challenges such as the lack of employment, parent-child conflicts, unplanned pregnancies and such, we have called upon members of our local response to advocate for the importance of support from extended family, friends and volunteers from the larger community. By sharing the stories of mutual help as well as their own experiences, the local response provided an assuring and trustworthy presence that encouraged families in difficulties to accept support from their community.
The narrative that a community is important for our well-being must be constantly nurtured thoughtfully if communities are to inspire positive change. In this light, the local response must be the basic building block and resource for the strengthening of this narrative as well as for any action or plans to be relevant and sustainable. This year, SALT was for us about Strengthening the Local Reponses by Appreciating and Acknowledging their successes. It was also about Linking people together in a mutual learning environment that encouraged the Transfer of knowledge and learnings.
Although our local response in different neighbourhoods achieved success in their work plans, we have come to see that local response is a fragile notion that needs to be safeguarded and nurtured. As facilitators, we are guardians of an environment that encourages the ongoing development of local response and mindful observers of its life cycle. Redefining relevance when needed refreshes the local response and keeps it developing. As such maturity, does not lead to decline but to a humble acknowledgment for change and renewal.