“A little goes a long way” is a project aimed to improve the volunteering system of Lambeth’s Street Champions.
Based on four research insights, we redesigned the experience of how Street Champions volunteers engage with both residents and Council service providers, empowering their communities to increase their impact.
Lambeth is a Council in south London between Wandsworth and Southwark, and has one of the largest geographic areas of any inner London borough. Lambeth has had to make a 47% cut in their core funding budget. To balance the books, between 2010 and 2018 they will have to make savings of more than £200 million. With the relentless squeeze on local government funding , local authorities are having to be ever more creative when it comes to providing and maintaining services which residents expect as part of the role of a local authority.
As a cooperative Council, Lambeth is working to change the relationship between the Council and its communities with the ultimate aim of providing services with people rather than for them. Because of this, a Street Champions scheme was piloted two years ago on a number of Lambeth streets to see if it could get neighbours better connected, and together achieve cleaner and happier streets. Today, there are 450 registered street champions who nominate themselves to take a leading role in looking after their street, engaging in a range of activities from tackling litter to organising street parties.
How might we help Lambeth Street Champions to empower their communities and increase their impact?
Research & Service Concept
We wanted to identify how we might help street champions to empower their communities and increase their impact. The research was focused in understanding what motivates Street Champions and what are the barriers they have to face to fulfil their role. It involved observation, interviews and workshops with members of the Council, Lambeth residents and street champions. The research showed positive feedback, like the fact that they really enjoy their role in looking after their street and the contact they have with residents and the Council officer that supports them. On the other side, we found that there are key needs that needed to be tackled:
- Make their role clearer and present it more positively to other residents
- Provide them with more support to fulfil their leadership role
- clarify the respective roles and responsibilities of the Council and the street champions
We created a variety of tools to help street champions feel represented, understand the spectrum of their role, share their experience, and receive greater guidance on different ways of undertaking their role. These were: a more positive brand; a handbook; regular street champion meetings; and a dedicated website. The solutions were firstly designed, and then challenged with the street champions. After the feedback, the solutions were improved and then challenged again, until street champions and Council officers validated all solutions. Both stakeholders felt that the tools would allow street champions to more fully embrace their roles, giving more opportunities for street champions to work with their residents to improve their communities.
Putting Ideas into Practice
Today, Lambeth Council is working to put these ideas in place. The first Seasonal Meeting was done in March 2016 with over 60 Street Champions, in presence of Leader of Lambeth Council, Lib Peck and Lambeth's Mayor Donatus Anyanwu.