Sunday, 13 April 2014

Want to get involved in Community Building in the SW Herts District?

Over the past couple of Months +Alex Murray and myself have been developing a couple of local pet projects for the SW Herts District. I have been informing people of what we are doing but when I find myself repeating things over and over I come to the conclusion that we need to create some collateral such as a blog post that can tell the story and be easily shared...

Those of you who know me, will know that last September (2013) I decided to give up using supermarkets. The reason for this is to make a stand... 5 times as much money stays in the local economy if we use local suppliers... so... I got busy learning how to buy local... and it isn't that easy I can tell you. So convenient these huge businesses have made it! ... nonetheless to rebuild our communities this is the path we must tread... or at least 10% of us!!

What was revealed to me in my early first days of this 'buy local transformation' was the terrible state that the Watford market had fallen into. I remember as a young kid going there and having to wait in line to be served... not so anymore... if you have to wait it is only for a few seconds and that is a rarity. The problem that this Watford Market has, and indeed the traders who operate from there is one of visibility. They are invisible, if you try to find any of them online you will fail miserably... why? ... because they are market traders, they do not have a clue about online marketing and social media... the problem is... Asda's, Tesco's, Sainsbury's, and Morrisons do! ... there is only going to ever be one winner in this battle... and it is not the local market traders...

... the same but different problem exists for the charities in Watford... there are over 200 local charities in Watford... I didn't know that... and to be honest if I asked anyone in Watford to name 10, I would be hard pressed to find anyone with that level of knowledge. These small charities fight over a diminishing 'giving pot' of money and have none available for marketing... and similarly to the Market traders they have little technical and online knowledge either... so they have this 'cloak of invisibility' draped over them, they provide essential services which if removed, would begin to dissolve what community we still have left in Watford...

How can we start to sort out these issues? ... regenerate the Watford Market and remove the 'cloak of invisibility' for both the market traders and the charities?

We start to work together as a community that is how... so the people involved in this project are as follows :-

  1. Link4Growth, organising and setting up the projects & providing the technology platform and education
  2. Stanmore College and possibly West Herts college... providing Students to do the work under supervision
  3. Market Traders and Charities... they provide the collateral, pictures, news stories, information about what they do... 
  4. Shared office space... Regus... a place for us to work and deliver, great for their Corporate Social Responsibility and PR...
So this is what we are going to do... and what the benefits are...

The colleges are finding it increasingly difficult to place students in work experience. Typically a student will end up going into a business where they are an unwanted burden for a few days (and they feel that). They may or may not be that interested in where they have been sent, and to be honest there is little that can be achieved in a few days as well, sometimes the students even fail to turn up demonstrating the value they feel they are getting from it... the challenge is that neither of the participants here are motivated to make it work... in fact it's all too difficult, and the time and effort expended by the college staff to provide this less than satisfactory work experience is huge!

So what projects like the one above can do is this... it is a long term project, can be ongoing through 2 years... so the students are engaged and can start to take the lead on what to do... they go out and meet people in the community... after all we are community building... and they use the skills learned on their course to deliver G+ business pages for the Market traders (and other small independent businesses) and the charities... we start the young people of tomorrow engaging with the community... I already like the sound of just that bit to be honest!! ... and they are providing something really needed and of value... we're talking self esteem... and being part of something bigger than themselves... THIS IS IMPORTANT!!

We will never run out of tasks that need to be done... and what we are teaching these students are skills that business owners don't know they need yet... this means that the students are being skilled up with useful skills that people and businesses will need... not learning about stuff that has already happened! ...

So once these pages are produced the students can then start to promote and market these small independent local businesses and charities using the #Link4Growth G+ platform and combine this with course work being taught.

There are no losers... the community wins, the charities win, the small local businesses win, the students win, the colleges win... everyone wins... and what is the cost? ... Nothing!!

... but it doesn't end there though... #Link4Growth is rolling out local community TV... yes the country has been divided up into 70 Districts (roughly in counties but not exactly) ... and each District can run it's own YouTube TV channel... local TV, about the local community, which is relevant to local people... and anyone with an internet connection can watch...

Well... we want to teach the Young college students how to programme, research, find guests and deliver a one hour CommunityTV Show aimed at the Young people in the local community... what they want to talk about and share with other young people locally... now we're talking about really useful skills development that are going to be highly useful once these students get into the 'real world'. Not to mention, networking skills, communication skills, presentation skills, organisational skills and through connection a whole heap of life skills too!! What's the cost of this then? .... errrr Zero... yup... nothing... it is all free... and +Alex Murray and I are doing it ourselves already right now in the Watford area... check out this link to the latest one Friday 11th April 2014.

Another reason for writing this Blog post on this subject is that this needs to be done, not just in #Watford but everywhere right across the UK... please be inspired, please share this post, please help get local young people involved in an exciting project like these where you are, please contact +Alex Murray or myself and lets DO IT!! ... let's get the whole country taking responsibility for helping these young people out... we put them where they are... 1 million unemployed, many with degrees (useless in the real world) and 700,000 of these young people feeling pretty depressed right now too! ... It is time for change... If you would like to get involved in any of this locally in Watford then please get in touch with Alex or myself... the more the merrier!

If you'd like to read why it is the baby boomer generations responsibility to help these young people of today, please check this post over on my own blog chrisogle.com.