Community Plan - Section 5:

Delivery of the Merton Community Plan

​The Community Plan aims to inspire a collective approach to achieving its priorities that will continue to make Merton a great place to live and work. Achieving the priorities of the Plan will be driven by the four thematic boards, overseen and held to account by the Merton Partnership Executive Board.

Each of the priorities has its own delivery plan, setting out the actions that members of the Merton Partnership will be taking to achieve them as well as ways in which the community can get involved as part of a collective approach. The delivery plans will look to align resources to support residents who want to develop ideas and projects to deliver the priorities set out in plan such as making bids for Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding or Merton Giving – Merton's community giving scheme.

In developing the Plan, the Merton Partnership commissioned M.E.L Research undertake research with 'seldom listened to' groups to ensure that the voice of our more marginalised communities, who sometimes get overlooked by traditional engagement methods, was heard when we were developing the Community Plan.  M.E.L Research held a number of focus groups in the community to collect insight and better understand the challenges and opportunities to increase active participation in the borough. Focus groups were held with members of a number of different organisations to ensure that a wide spectrum of voices were heard. These included: Age UK, BAME Voices, Merton Centre for Independent Living, Merton Mencap, Muslim Women of Merton, Polish Family Association, Sustainable Merton and Merton's Youth Parliament and Young Advisers.

The feedback from these sessions and other engagement carried out highlighted a number of consistent themes and recommendations for change that the Merton Partnership has looked to address in the development of the Community Plan.  The key points are summarised below.

There was desire for more support from the groups that make up the Merton Partnership to help unlock potential. There was awareness of a reduction in resources across the public sector, but financial support was still highlighted by groups as being important to helping them grow, and to be in a better position to be able to do more.

How we're taking this forward: In response bids to improve and nurture social capital will be encouraged to guide local projects to build social infrastructure using Community Infrastructure Levy money and the allocation of funding from Merton Giving.

A key theme identified was the need for people to be made more aware of the importance of getting involved in the community, potentially looking at showcasing the individual impact of current volunteers and groups.

How we're taking this forward: Throughout the Community Plan, examples and case studies about existing community-led projects have been included to help inform and inspire people to see what can be achieved when people get involved in communal activities.

Feedback from residents was that they needed to know where to access information about volunteering activities, and that having resources such as volunteer matching services held in a central place that is regularly maintained would be helpful.

How we're taking this forward: The Community Plan has brought together a number of online tools, links and resources into a single place that will help people to find out about what's going on near them and communal activities that they can get involved in. The Partnership will work with one of its key members, Merton Voluntary Service Council, to utilise its central directory of voluntary groups in the borough.

Trying to change the perception of volunteering in the community could be worked upon, making it more of a social norm and trying to remove the barriers. A number of people identified time as a barrier such as time from being able to get involved in communal activities or to volunteer.

How we're taking this forward: For each of the thematic priorities of the Community Plan, some of the ways that people can get involved to help achieve them has been highlighted. These have been included to show the variety of different ways in which people can get involved, emphasising the different levels of commitment that people are able to offer, and how all are equally vital and worthwhile contributions.

There was concern about some of the differences in the borough in the existing levels of social infrastructure and the impact that this has on positive outcomes in these areas.

How we're taking this forward: The overarching priority of the Community Plan is to improve social capital in communities and neighbourhoods with the poorest outcomes as identified in the evidence base put together to support the Plan and in terms of the 2019 Index of Multiple Deprivation. The data collected on which neighbourhoods are stronger when it comes to social capital and which places are weaker will enable the Merton Partnership to be proactive at trying to strengthen the existing assets of an area as well as where the developing of new projects should take place.