The plan: Everyone Involved
There is a history of resident and community involvement which has been key to the successful regeneration. It was recognised as a ‘Beacon of good practice in resident led regeneration’ and included as a Guide Neighbourhood in a Home Office funded programme from 2005 – 2007, in which local residents share their successes in renewing and regenerating their neighbourhood, to a longer term approach of providing ongoing mentoring and advice.
In terms of governance structures on the estate residents are well represented. The two key strategic governance structures that oversee the stewardship of the estate are provided by CVCHA and the Neighbourhood Partnership Board. Both organisations fully incorporate local residents in a majority on their boards.
There is also a range of other civil society groups in the neighbourhood – estate wide resident led groups such as the TRA, the 2005 Group, the Leaseholders Representative Group, and a series of neighbourhood patch based community and residents groups.
Having said all that, although there has been considerable resident involvement in the regeneration of the estate and there are considerable opportunities for ongoing resident involvement in the existing and future governance of the estate, there are concerns that the same people are involved all the time, there is a lack of younger people involved and many of the empowered residents are now working for key stakeholders on the estate.
Castle Vale is a ‘natural’ neighbourhood with which residents identify in terms of boundary and size. Whilst that is a positive attribute, and brings with it a sense of pride, it can also be a limiting factor on people’s social mobility. As has been stated earlier, whereas 20 years ago, people would look to move from the area, now they want to stay (and move back). Castle Vale has sometimes been described as an ‘island’, with residents, and particularly younger people, not taking up opportunities outside of the estate.
Education is the most important variable in influencing social mobility, but parental support, low aspirations, worklessness and lack of social capital (of the ‘bridging’ variety) are also important factors. The role of community leaders, mentors and role models can also play a significant part. In 2010, the Endowment Trust Fund highlighted ‘raising aspirations’ specifically supporting educational attainment as the overriding priority for investment of the remaining funds of circa £3million.
Involvement in voluntary work has been found to be particularly valuable in raising confidence and self esteem, enabling learning and skills development and providing work experience in a non threatening environment.