We meet Chief Executive of Shoreditch Trust, Jacqui Roberts who has been working with Active Citizens since June 2012.
What work does your organisation do?
Shoreditch Trust is a charity which supports and empowers communities to tackle inequality and exclusion in the London Borough of Hackney and beyond. We work with young people and adults to empower them with the skills and confidence to make a change in their lives, and within their communities.
Why did you get involved with Active Citizens?
We saw a clear link between the Active Citizens programme objectives and our own objectives of community cohesion and empowerment. While applying for the programme, and reading the Active Citizens toolkit, we realised that the ‘Learning Journey’ had the potential to underpin our existing community leadership programmes. It was a natural fit for us.
What did Active Citizens funding allow you to do?
The funding allowed us to deliver the Active Citizens programme in a structured way, including the training of Facilitators and the development of materials for our own particular context. It also allowed us to send staff and participants on International Study Visits, which fed into our other programmes. Finally, it contributed seed funding for starting up our own social action programme.
Shoreditch Trust has invested in a physical space for Active Citizens to come together and develop their social action projects. The ‘Active Citizens Hub’ has become a permanent feature, providing resources and supporting participants to develop social action projects after they have gone through the programme. The projects being created from the hub are having a real impact on the local community and providing the programme with a lasting legacy.
What effect has Active Citizens had on your staff?
Delivering the Active Citizens programme has unlocked a range of very specific skills in our staff. Through being trained as Facilitators they have developed stronger communication and presentation skills. Working on the social action projects and organising the International Study Visits (ISVs), they have developed their project management and team-building skills.
What effect has the Active Citizens programme had on your organisation?
It has supported our aims, objectives and philosophy. It has been a perfect fit for our existing work, enhancing our programmes and enabling us to improve the quality of our offering to the people we work with and our own staff. It’s also given us so much in the way of networking opportunities with like-minded organisations, some of which we are now working with on a regular basis.
How do you think Active Citizens benefits the local community?
Active Citizens creates bonds between groups within the community who would not normally come together.
Through challenging judgements and perceptions it opens up discussions and develops understanding. It also provides a greater sense of perspective by supporting and enabling individuals to visit and explore other countries areas.
What are your plans relating to Active Citizens?
We run a programme called Peace of Mind which addresses health inequalities within Hackney. We plan to use the Active Citizens ‘Learning Journey’ to support Facilitator Training and help deliver this programme. We have also met another Partner organisation through the Active Citizens network who we plan to collaborate with on a media project. In general we hope to continue to train participants and create social action projects!
What advice would you give to other partners who are thinking about joining the programme?
To get the best out of Active Citizens, you need to be committed to delivery. Listen to your audience at grassroots community level and then adapt the programme to your context. If you fully embrace the programme and embed the Active Citizens methodology into everything you do, it will benefit your entire organisation and the wider community.