The Living Streets Community Game

Effective community engagement in decision making is crucial in the current economic climate. To this end, we developed the Living Streets Community Game as a way for residents, councils and other agencies to identify local priorities together. As the clock ticks, players learn about time pressures involved with managing budgets and the knock-on effect to decision making.

The game is tailored to streets in the local area and can be played by participants of different ages and backgrounds, from community forums to school councils. A key element is about participants justifying improvements, from trees and traffic calming to shop front improvements, street lighting, housing and health facilities.

As well as facilitating democratic involvement in local environments, it’s a great way of bringing together groups to share different perspectives. It’s also a useful tool for capacity building and conflict resolution, and the budgeting element provides valuable learning for participants during a time of cutbacks.

We piloted the community game in the north east, with support from the North East Empowerment partnership, where it was described by the chair of community group Friends of St Lawrence Park as ‘an absolute relevation’ to all involved. More recently, we brought the game to Hartlepool to support Neighbourhood Action Plan Forums, where it helped build relationships between local authority staff and residents. It also helped to improve understanding on the constraints and difficulties faced by both parties. Adele Wilson, senior regeneration officer at Hartlepool Borough Council, said: ‘All involved commented that it was a different and enjoyable way to consult the local community!’

As local authorities and communities begin to use neighbourhood plans, the game is an invaluable tool for equipping participants with the skills and knowledge needed to shape their environments.

For more information, please contact Annabel Swanston, or call 07872 505943.


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