Faced with the need to protect vulnerable people and statutory services at a time of reducing public spending, Thurrock Council have worked with Bluemarble to establish a new type of delivery model. This model is intended to facilitate a different relationship between the Council and Communities. The ambition for the new approach addresses the fundamental issues associated with an ever growing demand for Council 'services' and the need to make delivery of these services more efficient.
Operating as a core component of a future vision of a transformed council, the community hub programme was established to create a way of bringing together public services and community resources. This is designed to create a focal point for ensuring a variety of early intervention work and asset based community development is channeled together for greater impact. Underpinned by our multi-agency Solution Centre and using the principles of co-production Bluemarble worked alongside members of the local community, voluntary sector organisations and managers and staff from the Council and other statutory service areas, to design and build a pathfinder Community Hub in South Ockendon. The active engagement of local people and councilors throughout ensured that the hub established local commitment and operates in a way that best suites local need.
Key features of the South Ockendon pathfinder include:
- A joint venture organisation co-owned with the community and a re-purposing of a local library as a place where all areas of local advice and early intervention support can be coordinated and work alongside each other.
- A range of drop in or bookable advice and guidance surgeries, use of free Wi-Fi, web facilities, access to library services, study areas and social networking opportunities
- A network of trained volunteers who help people access available support and show them how to use web-based solutions for advice, information and transactions
- Creating opportunities for the multi-use of buildings, enabling rationalisation and disposal of surplus buildings.
During the first year the pathfinder hub:
- Secured 6,756 hours of new volunteer time and worked with 38 volunteers
- Attracted 135,238 visits over the one-year period and increased footfall by 65% on the previous occupation
- Established regular services from over 30 separate advisory and social groups
- Hosted a community Learning Fair attended by over 2,000 people with more than 30 groups, activities and stalls.
As a result of these achievements the Council has embarked on a roll-out programme that will establish a network of similar community hubs across the borough.
Uses of the South Ockendon Hub
- “What a difference! Lovely atmosphere, great to have a place for people to gather together”
- “Was very impressed and grateful. This service is better than the Council.”
- “Great community service. Everything under one roof. ”
- “Very, very impressed with the hub. It is buzzing and friendly. Amazed with all that is going on.”
28 August 2014 - Communities portfolio holder Cllr Richard Speight - “As we have seen over the last year in the South Ockendon pathfinder, hubs enable communities to come together and support each other. They are an asset to the community and something we should all be proud of.”