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Home - what the Clay Country Local Action Project is doing

Background - the thinking behind the Clay Country Local Action Project

Clay Futures - Sensory Trust's community consultation in the Clay Area

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Background to the Clay Country Local Action Project

Working with the parishes of the Clay Area of Cornwall to develop and seek out individuals and informal groups to develop capacity for action.

The overarching aim of the project is to build the social capital of the villages within the Clay Country Local Action Area. Building this social capital involves building relationships and developing an increased mutual understanding between community members. 

The Sensory Trust considers that building social capital contributes to enhanced self reliance, collective action and collective decision-making within a community. It can therefore strengthen the capacity of a community to identify areas of interest around local opportunities and to respond to ongoing and existing development processes. Together these elements help to build sustainable and resilient rural communities.

Facilitating connections among individuals and local groups, and the reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them, can improve the quality of rural life for those people involved with the project. The project will aim to empower people from disengaged groups to become confident in contributing to their communities. In particular it will empower people from disengaged groups to become involved with existing projects or activities, and develop and manage their own projects. This activity will support them to gradually move towards economic activity.

The project will address issues of isolation, lack of understanding and the social stigmas that disengaged groups often face.

The project will build on the Clay Futures work recently undertaken in the Clay Area. This work was an innovative approach to community engagement and this part of this project will aim to take the results forward by supporting and nurturing the project ideas already developed by members of the communities.

The project is also innovative in that it aims to provide an inclusive approach to building sustainable communities. By supporting people from disengaged groups to be involved with community projects they are united by the activity of the project rather than the reason they are considered disengaged.

This approach will help to build the broadest definition of community by ensuring that as many people as possible are involved with community life, leading to more sustainable, resilient communities.

Areas of focus

Environment

The Clay Futures project highlighted that there is a strong desire amongst communities in the Clay Area to reconnect with the natural environment and enhance the biodiversity of the area. Ideas for harnessing the natural environment and developing small scale environmental schemes came from the communities themselves in the form of general desires to: grow things, engage with natural play and access to wild-spaces, to ideas for specific projects in this area.  This project will aim to support disengaged groups to become involved with these projects or where appropriate develop their own small scale environmental schemes.

When the capacity of a community is built and it becomes stronger and more resilient it is likely that its members will be increasingly able to view themselves in a positive way, to be proud of their assets and want to celebrate what they have achieved. This puts them in a much better position to respond to and be involved with any development projects proposed for the area.

Public spaces

The Clay Futures project highlighted that people consider shared public spaces as an asset and they would like to see more of them in their communities.  We could consider that the overarching aim of building social capital to enhance self reliance, collective action and collective decision making within a community directly links to the ability of a community to respond to community planning to enhance public spaces.

Where appropriate the development of social enterprises will be encouraged as part of this project. It is anticipated that some of the projects that people will become involved with will open up possibilities for community ownership of assets which may be related to service provision. The project will also seek to actively inspire local communities to help identify what their local assets might be and also it will help to broaden the horizons around possibilities for community led planning and asset transfer.