ROC event boosts Norwich community engagement
Over 160 people from churches, Christian organisation, civic bodies and the Police gathered at the King’s Centre in Norwich on Thursday night (February 7) to exchange ideas and passions around community engagement. Keith Morris reports.
Organised by Debra Green, founding director of Christian charity ROC, and Oak Grove Community Church senior leader Darren Woodward from Norwich, the aim of the event was to bring together local people to celebrate all the good social action and community engagement activities already happening in Norwich and explore practical ways of doing even more, in a co-ordinated way.
The gathering was warmly welcomed by the High Sheriff of Norfolk, Charles Watt, who said: “The only way we can get the services we want is for everything to be joined up and that can only happen when people talk together and learn from others. This is a huge opportunity and a major building block in what we are attempting to do in Norwich and Norfolk.”
Norwich Mayor, Cllr Martin Schmierer, said: “I have a real sense of pride in Norwich as a collection of people who come together and create a sense of community.”
Participants had the opportunity to highlight and celebrate existing work before hearing short interviews with some key people from Norwich.
Tim Lawes, headteacher at Catton Grove Primary School for over 20 years, said: “We can make a big, big difference to the children and families in our community. Kids need someone being alongside them giving them messages over a fairly long period of time to give them direction. If you empower kids to be able to make choices, sometimes they will make the good choices.”
Emma Smith, Strategy Officer at Norwich City Council, said: “Everybody in this room represent the assets of the city. As statutory organisation we now have limited resources and it is about being really innovative and bringing as many different resources as we can together to make a difference. We find there is often duplication of effort and what we want is to be able to bring people together to make the best use of the resources available.”
Chief Inspector Sonia Humphreys, from Norfolk Police, said: “There are so many people out there who want to do the right thing and to help. Within the faith groups that is there and is a readily available resource for us to be able to work together and do good things.”
Participants were then encouraged to share gaps in provision and specific needs from the community in small groups and then to explore practical ways of meeting those needs by working together and pooling existing resources and skillsets.
Speaking after the meeting, Darren Woodward said: “I loved seeing potential realised before my eyes. The people here tonight love my city and want the best for it – so bring it on. I hope it does not now get stuck in conversation but leads to action - I believe there is enough of a buzz around the room and talk of connectivity for that. I want us to talk more but with a purpose.”
Afterwards Debra Green told Network Norfolk: “We have done quite a few of these conversations around the county and the difference tonight is that this is a high capacity area – you can tell from the quality of the people in the room. The positivity generated and the willingness to be involved was great.
“It was a good cross-section of people from faith communities and also from the statutory organisations. We do find that churches are often the ones leading on action going forward. I thought there was a real can-do positive attitude in the hall to make things change – so let’s roll our sleeves up and get things happening.
“The next step is to analyse the feedback and date from tonight and look at what the key issues are and what some of the solutions might be,” said Debra.
A ROC Conversation report will be published in a couple of weeks’ time and then Darren will be heading up an action group which will gather together to take things forward.
To be kept in touch with developments, email Darren Woodward at email@example.com and follow our news stories on www.networknorfolk.co.uk
Contact ROC at 0161 3934511 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Pictured top is Debra Green from ROC (left), interviewing Chief Inspector Sonia Humphreys from Norfolk Police at the ROC Conversation in Norwich.
Click here or see below for a picture gallery of the event