Thu 9th July 2020

Creating Community Connections through PB

Creating Community Connections through PB

Ruth McNeill from Armoy Community Association recently shared with us her experience of and reflections on the Armoy Open Pot PB process, part of the Glens Healthy Places Initiative.

Ruth explained that she hadn’t previously heard of PB and was initially skeptical of it and felt that it might not work in Armoy. However, with the enthusiasm of Karin Eyben and Noeleen Diver they were convinced to give it a go. Ruth explained that they received great interest from the community and received 40 bid applications to the PB process. Ruth noted that the experience of the Voting Night was overwhelming and well supported by the community:

“a phenomenal amount of people came to the community centre, people who had never been in the community centre before in the 20 years that it has been there. We were blown away by the engagement and connectivity of people in their own communities. We were never able to tap into that before.”

Ruth noted, that prior to the Open Pot they had developed a Village Plan, engaging with the community on what they wanted to see develop in the area. But the format of the PB process was a completely different scale and people really got on board with it - were really empowered by having a direct say on what they thought the resources should be spent on in the community:

“It created a buzz that had never been seen in the community before.”

Ruth explained that the PB process was just being wrapped up when Covid-19 struck. She noted that it was the enthusiasm from the PB process and a new invigorated way of thinking in the community which led to such a fantastic response from the community in the support efforts that the Community Association implemented.

“We had 36 people registering to volunteer, something which previously didn’t happen in Armoy. The local business and individual financial support from people was incredible – a real sense of trust in the Community Association, a new sense of trust, that we were doing something really good and they wanted to support that and I feel that was definitely on the back of the PB process.”

Ruth highlighted that the Community Association with the trust and support of the community has been able to deliver services like Meals on Wheels, Food and Shopping, Telephone friending all down to that sense of community connection developed through the PB process. Also, on the back of the PB process Ruth shared that the Community Association have been involved in the development of a Community Spirit Framework with the Royal Society of Public Health in London. The process will help to promote and develop a good community spirit in Armoy. Ruth also pointed to the example of the two local primary schools in the village- while the children have some shared education that is where the sharing in the community stops. Ruth explained that the parents have never had any interaction with each other and as a result of being involved in the PB process both of the Parent Teacher Associations from the primary schools have come together to develop joint fund-raising events and to work together. In Ruth’s concluding comments she highlighted the power of PB and the desire to secure a cycle of PB with a repeat process to enhance impact:

“Our experience is that PB is a really powerful way for the community to interact and have much better connectivity to each other and to the community. We would really want to see it happening again and we think that the impact that a repeat PB process could have would be even greater and powerful for community spirit. I don’t think we would have had the same community response to Covid-19 had it not been for the really successful PB project.”