ABCD Europe

Asset-based community development in action, all over Europe.

The I Love Alumwell Open Day, which took place on Saturday 21st July 2012, at the Innovation Centre, which is place at the centre of the community, was a great success, for the whole Alumwell Community. It was based on the Asset Building Community Development (ABCD). There was a bouncy castle, which was a joy for the younger people of our community, face painting, football tournament and much more. The event was even broadcasted on the Local BBC West Midlands Ration Station.

There were stalls too, where people were selling their wares, such as, home made Jewellery, while other stalls were there to inform people of the services they provide for the community. Such as the local library, The local Food Bank from the Church @ Junction 10 and Family Fostering, a Disco, workshops, and a group of people who are from the Hrenf Brother Dark Age & Medieval Re-enactment Society, who put on a great show of their fighting skills, and some people displayed their singing skills, which was a joy to listen to.  Just to mention a just few of the stalls and activities that was there and had taken part.

ABCD worked very well and people were brought together, some for the first time, while others played a valuable part in making the event and the day in general, a time to remember. There was a steady flow of people entering the building and enjoying the activities.

However, it became evident that the situation of communication remains an issue, how do we truly communicate with the local community and all that live within that community.  

The idea being that people should feel that they are important, how do we do this? The implementation of Respect is one method, whereby, people have to know, or realise, that they are living in a safe community and they are an integral part of that community.  In addition to this, everyone has a role to play, whereby, they can maintain their own individualism whilst working towards social cohesive collectivism.

That was one of many reasons why an open day for the whole community was initiated, and common ground respected, regardless of ethnicity, religion or sexuality. An environment created by the people for the people, where communication can then take place. Whether this communication is verbal or through actions of togetherness as one people with a common goal of building interactions with each other, through local groups and societies, connecting with outside agencies to further this cause in a rational and coherent manner. 

Therefore, the challenge of delivering that communication at all levels, regardless of physical or mental abilities remains a challenge.  However, now we, the local community groups, have that experience to deliver with confidence, while building on past experiences and developing new experiences to make that delivery possible, through the communication of the ABCD language.

The I Love Alumwell Open Day for the Whole Community achieved this. People who attended the I Love Alumwell Open day for the whole Community felt safe and were able to talk, mingle, socialise and take part.  Some people even suggested that the Open Day become an annual event, which may become more and more successful over time.

However, it may be suggested that we need to develop an organisational channel of communication and the distribution of information; I say this, because some local people said that they did not know that the event was taking place, even though, I know that they were informed.

The employment of social media is one method, while direct contact is another; however, there are those without access to social media and those who receive very little human contact or interaction.  

This could be slightly explained through the development of capitalism, whereby capitalism creates huge amounts of wealth, while creating in the process debilitating poverty, it also creates huge popularity and damaging loneliness. It is this loneliness at the other end of the spectrum, which remains a challenge, how do we connect with those who are lonely and unable for one reason or another to connect with the outside world?

The church @ Junction 10 provides a good method of dealing with this very issue, by providing a luncheon club for the elderly, they go on day trips and have speaker visit them to discuss all sort of issues regarding all areas of everyday life. The Church @ Junction 10 also provides a home decorating and gardening service free of charge for the elderly, or those who are unable to do this work for themselves, this could also be a method of bringing the language of ABCD into the home.

However, loneliness is not confined to the elderly alone. The Church called St. John’s on the Alumwell, by using their Community Hall provide a Coffee Morning for members of the community to visit and come together, but the problem remains, some people may feel uncomfortable going out alone and meeting new people can be very difficult for them.

The local neighbourhood watch can connect with these people, if a local issues is taking place, such as, anti social behaviour, whereby some people may complain, then we have access to them, provide them with information and company to discuss issues and attendance at the neighbourhood watch meetings, this could be seen as a method of communication and social activity. The local neighbourhood also provides day trips for the local community, whereby some people don’t have to feel alone in a thriving community.  

We only know who these people are once the tide goes out; we should not have to wait for the tide to go out to identify people and to encourage activities, which is where ABCD is so important for the local community.

I once heard a homeless person say that she receives no help whatsoever, when questioned on this; she replied that she is not pregnant, she is not an alcoholic and she is not on drugs, she lives on the streets of London alone, she is part of the Invisible People Initiative.

We don’t want any invisible people on the Alumwell, who feel that they are alone and unable to take full advantage of the community where they live and take full advantage of the facilities available to them or for them, that is why the ABCD language is there to help those who feel that they receive no help. The ABCD does not discriminate as to those who should receive help and those who do not receive any help whatsoever, it is there for everyone regardless of the situation they may find themselves in.

Now, above the words/statement was used, that people should feel ‘important’, people should feel that they have a stake in their own community and have a relevant part to play in the decision making process, which affects their community, and or lives.  Where does the ‘important’ equation come in to play?  

This could happen by simple activities, such as the making and the delivery of leaflets and newsletters, attending the meetings of local community groups, ‘having a say’, whereby all persons are listened to without interruption, and are heard.  To encourage those who attend local community groups to communicate this to their friends, families, work colleagues and neighbours, where the language of ABCD could, in turn, enter the home.

To return to the issues, The I Love Alumwell Open Day for the Whole Community, as mentioned above was a great success, the local Mayor and Mayoress Cllr D Anson and Mrs Kate Anson, opened the event. The Local Mayor is also our local councillor, he also plays a valid part in all community activities, as our local councillor, Mayor and as an individual, we are lucky to have him, as we are lucky to have every member of the local community living on the Alumwell Estate.

At the Open Day, one person was so impressed that he asked if he could get involved with the local neighbourhood watch, and we made many contacts with members of the community, which all contacts will be followed up, to keep the communication alive. The Open Day provided us with the necessary experience to develop our skills and knowledge further.

The provisions of food and refreshments was also a great success and a relevant part of the open day, and all peoples, whether by having a stall, providing food, holding workshops, face painting and providing free manicures all worked together as a team. It was amazing to see and even more amazing to have had the opportunity to have take part, however small that contribution was.  

The work of ABCD doesn’t end there, it is a working process/model to continue building a thriving community, the ABCD allows us to identify our failings and build upon our success, it helps us to build on the language of the community and to build on the language of ABCD to continue working toward that goal of full, if possible, community interaction.

Therefore, one could say,  what is good, in theory and in practice can be better with work. One could also say, what is bad, in theory and in practice could be challenged and improved upon, therefore, the more we listen the more we understand. In turn, the more we can achieve and the further forward we can go, building greater lines of communication with all community groups, agencies and others, so our valuable long term volunteering work for the community is not a futile process, but is a 100% productive and relevant process.

To conclude, we had some fantastic people from Fair Share and the Birmingham Black County Community Foundation help us, without their help and their organisational and networking skills, which they provided without prejudice and selflessness, the event may not have taken place.

We would like to thank them with the greatest respect for making the I Love Alumwell Open Day for the Whole Community a great success, and all the people who turned up and made their valuable contribution towards the I Love Alumwell Open Day for the Whole Community.

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Comment by Lorna Prescott on July 29, 2012 at 15:37

Hi Dean

Thanks for taking the time to celebrate the achievements of the I Love Alumwell Open Day with this network, and for sharing your questions and reflections. Your thoughts on communication and loneliness really got me thinking.

I also thought it was interesting that you said "ABCD language is there to help those who feel that they receive no help." I think what is great about all proper Community Development is that it facilitates discussion, learning, reflection and action around what we can each bring to a situation and do about it. It starts with our own power, and then our collective power, rather than getting swamped down in what we don't have. And it's about collective action - doing things together, to address inequalities in provision and/or society.

Andy - I share your concern about balloon releases, I think we should be thinking about impact on environment and wildlife in all that we do.

Comment by Andy Mabbett on July 23, 2012 at 16:52

Unfortunately, even though Alumwell is just a few miles from important RSPB and other nature reserves, this event also included, reportedly, a balloon release. Balloon releases are harmful to the environment, to wildlife and to domestic animals, as I outline in this article:

http://birdguides.com/webzine/article.asp?a=1490

Perhaps the balloons were biodegradable, but, as my article shows, even biodegradable balloons can last - and do harm - for a year or more.

Organisations who oppose balloon releases include the Marine Conservation Society, the RSPB, the RSPCA, the National Farmers' Union, the Shark Trust, the Tidy Britain Group, Keep Scotland Beautiful, Tidy Wales, Tidy Northern Ireland, Clean Cornwall, county bird clubs, various Wildlife Trusts, the Bumblebee Trust, The Soil Association, The Waterways Trust, The Terence Higgins Trust, The Alzheimer's Society, and others, plus several councils and companies including Sainsbury's, Aviva, TGI Fridays, M&S and Barclays. The Guinness Book of World Records no longer recognize balloon release records "precisely because of environmental concerns".

Comment by Dawn Carr on July 23, 2012 at 9:32

Thanks for the blog Dean and all your support as a local 'connector. This event was ABCD at its best. It was great to see so many residents connecting and offering to join with groups in the area. It was also great to see local people connecitng with local business and supporting the local economy. This is the start of great things for the residents of the Alumwell Estate

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