About the project
This pilot project is working with three Devon communities: Holsworthy; Lynton and Lynmouth; and South Molton. Chosen as representative of a range of population size, geographical spread, and location in relation to major towns and infrastructure.
Working with groups and organisations in each community, the project is helping to forge new links and encourage unity and collaboration. It is providing access to training opportunities for voluntary groups and individuals, especially young people.
The project aims to help these dynamic, well-connected and thriving communities build a support structure that will encourage them to think of themselves as a unified team, ready and able to assist their friends and neighbours with support across a wide range of opportunities and issues. It will also equip them with the tools and skills required to make them better prepared and resilient to events such as freak weather, or minor emergencies such as power cuts.
We’ll also help each community develop and strengthen its links with the statutory bodies, agencies and blue-light services that already serve them. Some of whom will also provide training and access to facilities for the project teams, for the overall benefit of the community.
The project is a pilot to test the concept for a potential future roll out across the whole of Devon and Cornwall. It will run for fifteen months from March 2017 and is supported by the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner and Devon and Cornwall Police, in support of their Citizens in Policing Strategy.
frequently asked questions
1. What is Community Unity?
Community Unity is a 15-month pilot project spanning three locations in North Devon. Lynton & Lynmouth, Holsworthy and South Molton. The project structure will encourage them to think of themselves as a unified team, ready and able to assist their friends and neighbours with support across a wide range of opportunities and issues. It will also equip them with the tools and skills required to make them better prepared and resilient to events such as freak weather, or minor emergencies such as power cuts.
We’ll help each community develop and strengthen its links with the statutory bodies, agencies and blue-light services that already serve them. Some of whom will also provide training and access to facilities for the project teams, for the overall benefit of the community.
The aim of this project is to enable communities to be better equipped and supported to be able to come together quickly and respond to local events within their community. As well as boosting day-to-day activities such as helping elderly neighbours, clearing footpaths, and , Such incidents could include adverse weather conditions, fallen trees etc. Community Unity will provide local people with an opportunity to utilise their skills to help and support the wider community. The project is designed to build confidence among members of the community, will encourage community support including supporting vulnerable members of their community and will inspire positive community engagement.
2. Why have you picked these locations?
Devon is a huge geographical area and we wanted to pick a location that allowed us to include costal, rural and urban towns in one Local Policing Area (LPA). With this criteria, North Devon offered the perfect locality to include all three types of typical Devon towns. Additionally, from a resource perspective, having all three towns in the same Local Policing Area allows us to manage the pilot more efficiently.
3. Is there an age limit?
Some activities may require you to be over the age of 18 but if you are under 18 years of age, there will still be many opportunities for you to get involved with.
4. What will this do for my community?
It is our hope that these pilots will help galvanise the local communities and inspire people living within these locations to become active citizens supporting all members of their community. The pilot hopes to make each community more resilient and more capable of working together to achieve more locally.
5. How much will this cost me?
For Volunteers the project is and should always be free of charge. Where there are costs, such as external training course fees, subscriptions, equipment, etc, sponsorship should be sought, or fundraising activities undertaken as a group. Organisations and commercial sponsors may be asked to subscribe to support volunteer activities. but there may be some small fees required for certain training packages. The project has a modest budget, so cannot cover the costs of personal equipment beyond that required by legislation, again sponsorship should be sought.
6. Why don’t you spend the money putting more police on the beat?
We are doing both. Thanks to some extra funding from the Police & Crime Commissioner, Devon and Cornwall police, we will be employing:
• Nearly 100 additional police officers onto the streets and into local policing
• 50 criminal investigators
• 30 online record takers.
The extra 100 police officers will bring the total number back up to 3,000.
However, we also believe that by making communities more resilient and engaged, this will also assist with crime prevention at a local level and will enable police officers to respond to more serious incidents.
7. How will you tackle anti-social behaviour?
Tackling anti-social behaviour will always be a prominent objective for both for the Police and the council. Community Unity hopes to compliment the work our statutory services do by working with youth services and clubs locally to provide young people with a new focus and training to support their development.
8. What’s in it for me?
Volunteering is a wonderful way to learn new skills, make new friends, and make a real difference. As this project is based in your community you’ll see the immediate improvements that your efforts deliver. Voluntary work looks great on your CV too, with employers keen to see people making an effort to devote their time to good causes and to helping make life better for others.
9. Do we replace the Police/other emergency services?
No absolutely not. The project is intended to enable communities to become more active and to be more capable of dealing with issues that may not need a police presence (Flood prevention etc). All pilot areas will always have the full support of their local policing teams.
10. We have a group that already does this. Will you support them?
Of course! It’s brilliant that people in your community are already rising to a specific challenge. We’d like connect with them to better understand what they are doing, then we’ll be able to support and complement their activities with access to training, networking, and mentoring to grow and develop, as they wish.
11. What tools and resources are available?
For many activities local face-to-face training will be provided and to further compliment this, online tools and resources will be accessible once they become available.
12. How will you make sure that the project is controlled?
The project will only work with the support and buy-in of the local community. As such we’ll be talking to and working with the communities right from the outset. Initially through the local councils, then onward through interested community groups and existing volunteers. The project is being run by Devon Communities Together, who have a substantial track record in working successfully within communities across the county. Devon and Cornwall police will also be working in close partnership every step of the way. Representing the blue-light services and ensuring that the project activities are well connected to emergency and other services. Feedback is vital for setting and adjusting direction, we’ll be collecting and addressing community inputs along the way.
13. To what levels can my business become involved?
This project is all about your local community. If your business is based within one of our pilot areas, then there is potential for you to become highly involved. If you’re a bigger business outside of the pilot areas, we’d still welcome your input. Please get in touch to discuss opportunities.
14. Are you looking for sponsorship or other financial support?
This is always welcomed, especially where the sponsor is located within the community it wishes to support. For simplicity we aim to encourage direct sponsorship of the local CU group, rather than overall project sponsorship. Our Sponsorship Framework document explains this in more detail.
15. How will I know the best role for me?
Community Unity will be a progressive journey and the chance for you to discover and develop new skills with members of your community. However, if you have a certain skillset and would like to develop this further, please let us know and we’d be happy to support you.
16. How long will it take before I can get started?
We are rolling the project out one pilot area at a time to ensure we get off to a good start and learn as we go along. Sign up to the mailing list (web link) and we’ll be in touch with more timetable information for your area. We plan to start with initial kick-off meetings within the next 4-6 weeks.
17. How much of my time will volunteering take up?
The great thing about volunteering is that is works around you and your commitments. You will be able to commit as much or as little time to the project as you wish. Volunteering is very flexible as we recognise that some people are able to provide more time than others and that’s absolutely fine with us!
18. What skills or qualifications do I need?
None, all you need is enthusiasm and a willingness to learn new skills and meet new people.
19. Are there any rules that I should know about before I volunteer?
All volunteers will need to sign-up to our Volunteer Agreement which sets out our terms and conditions for Community Unity and will also explain the volunteer role in greater detail.
20. Can I leave if I don’t like it?
Yes of course. We appreciate people are busy and we are happy for any time and support that you can provide to the project and to your local community.
21. Do I get my expenses paid?
Yes, and no. This will largely depend upon the activity being undertaken and the hierarchy to which it is aligned. For example, official Police Support Volunteers do get their expenses paid, but people generally volunteering within their communities do not. Where project sponsors can be found and appointed, they may be willing to cover expenses for certain activities.
22. Can I claim benefits while volunteering?
This is a question best dealt with by your benefits provider. But generally it is recognised that volunteering activities look great on your CV which can enhance your career opportunities.
23. Can I get a qualification or an award?
Our training course are not currently accredited but they will be great for boosting your CV and this is something we will look to review.
24. Will I get training?
You certainly will! We will be arranging training workshops locally for certain activities and there will also be a whole host of online resources available to equip you with the tools you will need to be involved. Access will be given to all volunteers once these resources become available.
25. What about online, or home-based, volunteering?
As the project develops in each community, we anticipate that we’ll need local administrative staff carrying out a range of back office activities. Looking after the website and social media channels, organising volunteer rotas, etc, etc. Please get in touch to discuss opportunities.
26. Can I volunteer with my family or friends?
Yes of course! This project is very much about getting communities active and bringing people together. The more the merrier so tell your family and your friends.
27. I’ve got a criminal record – can I still volunteer?
We don’t wish to exclude anyone who wants to help their community, but previous convictions must be disclosed during the application process and will be examined on a case by case basis. The Police Vetting Unit will make the final decision if necessary.
28. I feel I need some extra support to volunteer – is this possible?
Yes of course. Please get in contact to discuss your needs and we will try our best to accommodate and support you.
29. I live in the UK but am from overseas. Can I volunteer?
Absolutely. Experience of different cultures and language skills Promoting equality, and human rights and respecting diversity are the foundations to creating greater community confidence in the police. We aim to build a police service that has the trust and confidence of all communities and a service that reflects the communities it serves.
30. I’ve got specific skills and experience; can you use them?
Yes, and we would love to hear from you! Can you drive a tractor, use a chainsaw or are a whiz on Microsoft Excel? No matter what your skills are, we will aim to work with you to ensure that your skills are utilised and to keep you enthused.
Devon Communities Together (DCT) is the operating name of The Community Council of Devon, an independent charitable company founded in 1961, and part of a national network of Rural Community Councils.
We are a community development organisation. We ‘help communities help themselves’ by providing advice and information and supporting projects throughout Devon. We have a special concern for Devon’s rural communities and especially those who are at risk of isolation and disadvantage and for whom rurality brings an additional challenge to their daily lives.