Key features of this area of the programme have been generating more community involvement in the area, introducing measures to improve community safety and developing projects to improve the health of residents.
The issue that has united the many different elements of the NDC programme has been community involvement. This has been at the heart of the work of Kensington Regeneration.
The structure of the organisation has ensured that local people have been able to play a key role in its work. They have also had the opportunity to comment on its progress on an ongoing basis. Key features of Kensington Regeneration’s approach to community involvement have included the organisation of Neighbourhood Assemblies, held every two months to enable residents to find out about the latest local developments and have their say on them. Annual Neighbourhood Assembly Conferences have also been organised to give residents the chance to consider the ‘big picture’, reviewing the progress that had been made over the previous 12 months and setting the agenda for the coming year.
Local community groups and voluntary organisations have also received extensive support for their own initiatives and events. This has included operational support, provided by a team of community development workers, and financial support in the form of small grants from the New Communities Fund, recently renamed the Community Fund. In the most recent financial year grants totalling £111,000 were given to 56 local groups.
In recent years, Kensington Regeneration has also funded the posts of outreach workers to provide support to the New Deal area’s growing number of BME residents. Estimates suggest that the BME population has risen from 14.5 per cent in 2001 to around 22 per cent today. This aspect of the Partnership’s work has resulted in some major successes including helping local African organisations to organise the Kensington African Festival each year. An annual festival of diversity, One World Week, has rapidly developed into One World Month, offering a huge range of events and activities.
Two community projects in particular have proved to be outstandingly successful over the years. The first has been the annual Community Awards event, a celebration of the neighbourhood heroes who make such a difference to life in the area. The second has been the annual Summer Fun Day. As well as being a great day out for up to 6,000 local people, this free event has helped Kensington Regeneration to get its message across to residents and also enabled community groups and voluntary organisations to showcase the services they offer in the area.
Kensington Regeneration has funded a range of measures aimed at making Kensington a safer place in which to live and work.
In the early years of the programme this involved improving the local security infrastructure with the installation of a network of 29 CCTV cameras across the area and the development of an extensive alleygating scheme.
The partnership has also funded Kensington’s own Police Team who have done an excellent job in terms of tackling crime and improving community safety in the area. This is reflected in the most recent statistics which showed a 31.5 per cent reduction in robberies and a 27 per cent increase in public confidence in the area. Members of the Police Team have also worked closely with other agencies on targeted campaigns focusing on issues such as drug crime, truancy and youth disorder, with anti-social behaviour notices having been served on some persistent offenders.
The success of the Kensington Police Team has been widely praised by local people and has also attracted the attention of the judges of major regional and national awards schemes. For example, the Kensington officers were named as the Neighbourhood Team of the Year in the inaugural Merseyside Police Total Policing Awards. More recently, the Kensington Police Team was also honoured in the National Justice Awards, finishing as runners-up in the category recognising outstanding contributions to engaging local communities.
To support the efforts of the Police Team Kensington Regeneration has funded a range of other projects in the NDC area. For example, the community wardens have continued to be a reassuring presence on Kensington’s streets, working closely with local residents on a variety of community safety initiatives.
Crimes against local schools have been dramatically reduced after Kensington Regeneration funded the installation of high-tech smoke screen and water spray security features.
The partnership has also helped to fund Nacro’s Youth Inclusion Project in the area, a diversionary initiative which targets young people at risk of slipping into anti-social or criminal activity.
Further funding has been channelled into the Kensington Crime Alert project which works to prevent crime against businesses, shops and health facilities.
Other community safety initiatives supported by the partnership have ranged from distributing more than 2,000 personal attack alarms to local residents to supporting the Together as One initiative, a community-led drive to tackle anti-social behaviour at neighbourhood level.
Kensington Regeneration has also supported a range of initiatives aimed at improving the health of local residents via the work of its Health Task Group.
One of the partnership’s key projects in the health programme was the creation of the £2-million Kensington Community Sports Centre which has given residents of all ages local access to state-of-the-art sports facilities. Regular activities at the centre range from gym sessions, football and netball to table tennis, badminton and exercise classes. There are also Young At Heart sessions for older people. Fees have been subsidised for Kensington residents and unemployed people.
Linked to this exciting new facility, the Partnership has also funded a youth sport outreach worker post to promote the healthy lifestyle message across the area and encourage more people to use the Sports Centre, Birchfield Park and other local facilities.
The work of HEAT - the Health Energy Advice Team - has been another Kensington Regeneration success story. This project addresses the health needs of local people, focusing in particular on housing and benefits issues and helping vulnerable residents to access energy-related home improvements. In the most recent financial year, more than 2,000 people in Kensington benefited from HEAT’s advice. In addition, the project has run a successful training scheme which helps to prepare people for a career in the information, advice and welfare rights sector.
Support for other health-related developments in the area has ranged from funding the work of the Kensington Family Support Group, which helps the families of drug users, to distributing around 400 carbon monoxide alarms to local homes.
The partnership has also organised health fairs and free health checks across Kensington and funded the Healing Space, the first complementary health facility in the area.
Community groups and voluntary organisations have also been able to apply for support for health-related initiatives from Kensington Regeneration’s Flexible Health Fund.