Tuesday, 23 March 2010

The Redruth North Partnership

I had arranged to meet Kevin Hawkes and some of the residents of the Redruth North Partnership at their base,the Kabin on Strawberry Lane. As I arrived they were in the process of sorting out some strimmers for the volunteers working on their Green Fingers project - where volunteers look after the grounds locally and learn a skill.

The first person I met was Jack Clemens, one of the residents who has been involved in the Redruth North Partnership from the start. "What relation are you to Skipper?" he asked. Its a long time since I have heard that one. "Skipper" was the nickname given by people locally to my great grandfather and Jack had worked with him at Bezurrel Farm around the time of the war.

The Redruth North Partnership was formed by the merger of several local residents associations and in the few years since it was founded has achieved some fantastic results - ranging from the voluntary curfew to help reinforce the authority of parents, to homework clubs, to their Green Fingers Project. They even saved Close Hill Post Office. They have recently been celebrating their success in securing lottery funding to help support their work for the next three years.

The voluntary curfew at Redruth was a great success. Sometimes it is misunderstood. This was not like all those headline grabbing "crackdowns" or "initiatives" which Tony Blair used to announce all the time and then forget. It did not require government to do anything and it did not require any new laws.

It was a simple case of the police and the community setting clear boundaries which helped to reinforce the authority of parents. It is not always easy for parents with teenage children. Peer pressure starts to take hold and making sure their children get back home in good time at night is easier said than done in some cases. But what if everyone's children had to be back home at a particular hour and the police made sure it happened? You soon deal with the problem of peer pressure and strengthen the authority of parents. Once you establish new social norms and give new authority to local communities and parents, then it lasts. So the voluntary curfew was run during the summer of 2008 but has not been needed since.

The Redruth North Partnership is about to evolve into a fully fledged social enterprise and aims to take over grounds maintenance contracts and other services from the local authority so that it becomes self funding and can return even more benefit to the community.

This is one small example of a process that needs to take place across our whole society.