In this blog, the Tibby Residents Association take us through their progress as part of the First Steps programme
Welcome to the Tibby Residents Association blog… it’s all about us, who we are and what we are doing!
We are a group of people who all have something in common… we all live on or around the Tibbington Estate in Tipton, West Midlands. There’s something else we share too – we all really care about where we live, our homes, our streets, our friends, neighbours and our families.
Getting started with the project
Not too different from you, right? But you’ll be thinking that something must have happened to draw us all together – and you’d be right.
Our estate isn’t perfect, and that’s why we got together in the first place. We want it to be better. We are all volunteers – no-one gets paid a penny, and we are all busy, we don’t have time to spare, but we care so much we have to do something.
When people who don’t live on our estate talk about the Tibbington, they don’t always say nice things! The Council use words like ‘chronic deprivation’, ‘poor uptake of services’, ‘low educational achievement’, ‘high unemployment’, ‘high crime and anti-social behaviour’, things like that.
Obviously, we’re just getting on with our lives, but what we see many of our friends and neighbours (the ones we really care about) struggle just to get by – and that makes us upset, and sometimes angry.
We want to help the people who are struggling, that’s the bottom line with our group. And actually, when we think about it, we are all struggling, one way or another, we just don’t always say. To remove some of the immediate pressure, we started helping others by running youth clubs and a jobclub, and helping our neighbours to speak to the authorities.
Which is great! It’s really helped. But it doesn’t actually SOLVE our problems – just releases a bit of the pressure they cause us.
So, we got together and decided that what’s really important, is our general education. We know lots of practical day-to-day things. What we don’t do so well is show off our knowledge. This is ok up to a point – we can get by. But when it comes to getting a job, or explaining something to someone we don’t know, or filling in a form, lots of us don’t do as well as we would like. And, you’ll know from your life, doing something you are not very good at isn’t much fun.
We asked for help from First Steps, and they agreed! This was great news for us. Finally, we could find out how to tackle something that is one of the causes of our daily struggles.
As a group, we decided to ask other people who live on our estate what they think about their education, their kid’s education and how we could help. We thought we’d do a questionnaire, but writing things down and filling in forms isn’t fun for many of us – remember?
We spoke to someone we know and she suggested that we could ask people face to face, and record what they had to say – perhaps on a video. This sounded like a great idea, but we would need to have a reason to speak to everyone – you can’t just go up to people, they are busy doing something else.
So we organised a big fun day – no-one’s busy at a fun day (except the organisers)! It was a lot of work, but it was brilliant! People were relaxed, and gave us their time. Our friend came and did some videoing. We got some opinions and answers to our questions.
We’re still putting everything together, it’s going to take a while, but we have help. Our friend is editing the video clips, and we have got all of our paperwork from the fun day together. The money from First Steps means we can pay someone to go through everything and do the written part of our plan, so it’s in a form that everyone can understand – even the people we usually struggle to communicate with – the ‘authorities’.
Thank you, First Steps, you have started us on a route to tackling our REAL problems for the first time.
Challenges and successes
The worst thing was that more of our time could easily have been saved! We spent a lot of time trying to understand who everyone was (Groundwork, CDF, Locality, Relationship Manager) and what they wanted. We also struggled with the money – we were asked to get an ‘accountable body’, even though we’ve handled larger amounts of public money than this before. No offence, we are so very grateful, but perhaps it could have been more straightforward?
The very best thing about First Steps though, is that paying for people to do the things we don’t do well saved us time and stress. We all work, have families and are very busy. We give our time freely to our youth clubs, our job club and our advice services. It is very difficult for us to make any extra time at all to tackle our REAL problems. Thank you, First Steps – you have allowed us to do this, and it’s a very big deal.