As one of five pilot participatory budgeting projects using the community chest approach, the People's Fund in East End and Hendon, Sutherland, allowed local residents to have a say in how to allocate resources to address their concerns and improve relations with city council.
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Problems and Purpose
The People's Fund in Sutherland was one of the original 5 pilots that the then Office of the Deputy Prime Minister funded to trial PB as a new approach to community empowerment. They used a small community chest approach, with two events using PB to allocate £15,000 and £35,000 respectively. It was run by the local regeneneration programme known as Back on the Map, which was the public face of the Sunderland New Deal for Communities 10 year renewal initiative.
The project went on to run for many years in different guises and with different funding sources. In 2013 the Peoples Fund name continues, but is now a community panel and more consultative than direct voting in the community.
Background History and Context
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Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
Sunderland New Deal for Communities with support from the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister and Community Pride Initiative brought about the participatory budgeting process.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
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Methods and Tools Used
This initiative uses participatory budgeting, an increasingly common method of democratic innovation broadly described as "a decision-making process through which citizens deliberate and negotiate over the distribution of public resources." There are many benefits associated with participatory budgeting including increased civic and democratic education; increased government transparency; and an increased opportunity for participation by historically marginalized populations .
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The NDC's management board employed the following process:
- Recruited a group of residents to form a steering group
- Trained the residents in budgets, priority setting and consultation
- The steering group decded which priorities the fund should address through consultation with the community
- Determined the most popular ideas from the consultation
- Publicised the event, priorities and how to apply
- Collated bid applications
- Held a voting event for people to decide which projects would receive money
For the consultation, the steering group used a PB exercise to draw up a list of priorities for the People's Fund. The priorities identified were: crime, disorder and antisocial behaviour, provision for young people, transport, play areas, clean street and social and cultural events.
Through the priority setting exercise with the community, the steering group allocated out an amount of money against each priority.
At the voting event, 80 local residents attended and electronic voting pads were used to count the votes for each project. At the first event 12 projects were funded out of 15 applicants.
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
Most residents were really positive about the event and how they were able to get involved. Some of the effects of the process included:
- A good partnership working with the city council
- Good training and learning for residents involved with steering group
- A repeatable process which was repeated the following year
- Development of community networks since local groups got to meet each other
Analysis and Lessons Learned
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Lead Image: Sunderland Area Committee/Sunderland City Council https://goo.gl/nsRNKj
Secondary Image: Sunderland Community Centre https://goo.gl/tbVFN6
This case study was originally submitted to the Participatory Budgeting Unit by the organisers of the project, using a template supplied by the PB Unit.