Why local is important

West London Zone was designed by our local community with families, charities, councils and schools coming together to work towards one end goal: helping young people in the community to have access to the right opportunities and support so they can go on to thrive in adulthood.

5 years on, we have started to re-examine how we can ensure we continue to reflect and improve on our value of being ‘Local’. This is why we have started to work with Citizens UK* to develop stronger relationships with our families, understand their concerns and work better together. We are doing this through a method called Community Organising

A key rule in organising is ‘never do for others, what they can do for themselves’. This means empowering parents to take steps towards making the change they want to see. 

Through Community Organising we are able to build stronger relationships across the community and within our own organisation. Leaders from new Citizens alliances state that Community Organising equips them to build better relationships in their organisation (90%) and to better connect with people of different backgrounds in their area (82%).**

A big part of community organising is listening. And listening deeply. Over the past month I have been connecting with parents at my school, taking the time to connect and genuinely understand their concerns in their area. The best conversations always take place face to face. By dedicating time to speak with parents we can better understand how we can tailor our programme to meet their needs and those of their child. 

One question we have been asking parents is “What is putting pressure on you and the people you care about?” This allows us to reflect and think about the issues that are affecting our communities daily. 
After listening deeply to parents in Hammersmith and Fulham, a common theme that arose was wanting more opportunities to connect with individuals from different backgrounds. Many parents are keen to dispel stereotypes and develop trust with each other - sustaining conversations even after leaving the school gates.

Our intention is to create opportunities to develop leaders within our communities who will sustain change long after the end of our 2-year programme. By listening to families we can understand and empower parents to fulfil their potential, allowing us to work together with, instead of for, parents. And in turn, support the children and young people in our community to thrive. 

Zarin Shahabi, Link Worker and Community Engagement Project Coordinator

*Citizens UK (CUK) supports local communities to develop their own community organising campaigns to achieve greater grassroots power and social justice. 
**Data from Citizens UK 

together, every child and young person can flourish.