Developing a New Project – Key Stages for Local Organisations

 

The development of each project will vary according to local circumstances and the resources, both human and other, available to it. However, the table below outlines the key stages which will be common to most projects and explains some of the tasks which promoters of local initiatives can expect to undertake.

The guidance suggests that it takes seven months from the inception to the launch of a project. It should not take more but, as above, could take considerably less time depending on resources and circumstances. But always allow more time than you’d like!

STAGE ACTIVITY TIME

1

  • Secure a ‘point of entry’

This applies more to SCT-initiated projects than it might to those undertaken by local organisations or individuals.

If you don’t represent a leading local organisation yourself, it’s important to establish good working relations at a senior level with one which is prepared to be helpful, commands respect in the community and can identify and introduce you other potential stakeholders.

You should make contact and, hopefully, secure the support of the local authority. Not only is the Council best placed to know with whom you should be consulting, but it is probably the best resourced local organisation, should have a commitment of its own to public engagement and has statutory duties which will be particularly important if you plan to create a physical space.

  • Develop a consultation list

With the advice of the local authority or other body, if you need it, draw up a list of those organisations which are likely to have an interest and/or a role to play in your proposals. If you can, ask your key contact to email them first to make an introduction.

Then email/write to everyone on your list with a summary of what you’re planning and a request to meet.

Allow up to a month to arrange a meeting at senior level and then to generate a contact list.

2

  • Conduct the consultation programme

This is a key stage in the course of which you will aim to win support for your proposals, learn about the local community, secure allies and contributors to the project and begin to identify candidates for the founding Speakers’ Corner Committee.

Your consultation should embrace representatives of the local public, private and voluntary sectors and community groups. If you win the support of a broad section, you have a viable project.

If you are based locally and have the time – or if more than one of you is involved – this could take less time. But allow up to two months.

3

  • Establish a working group

If your consultation has been successful, you should seek to establish a small working party based on the local authority but perhaps involving others (from other tiers of local government, the police etc).

This group will have a key coordinating role in establishing the project and in particular identifying and assessing potential Speakers’ Corner sites and developing ideas for a project launch.

  • Publicise the project

Different projects will ‘go public’ at different stages but, if you want to avoid false starts and maximise positive coverage, you may wish to wait until you know you have influential support and that the project is viable.

(You may already have met the editor or a senior journalist on the local paper as part of your consultation. It’s a good idea to try to get them involved, perhaps as members of the Speakers’ Corner Committee, as they represent an important local institution.)

If you’re issuing a press release, make sure it includes supportive quotes from local community leaders.

  • Set up a local Speakers’ Corner Committee

Invite those who have been particularly supportive during your consultation to become founder members of the local Speakers’ Corner Committee. The Committee will own and manage the initiative over the long term but in the short term it will make the key decisions about the site of your Speakers’ Corner and your launch and post launch programme.

It may be sensible to hold an informal meeting so that you can brief potential members about the outcome of the consultation and seek their support for your plans for the future before actually constituting the committee.

  • Organise a ‘public speaking workshop’ (optional)

If possible involve your local theatre (or broadcaster) in organising a workshop to coach members of the public in the art of speaking in public confidently and effectively. You could involve local schools and/or pensioner groups. It’s a newsworthy initiative but also one which helps get over to a broader public what you’re trying to achieve.

The assessment of sites (including consultation with the police and perhaps highways and other authorities) will take time. You will also need to allow time between meetings. So this stage could take up to two months.

4

  • Plan the project launch

Your working group should draw up exciting but manageable proposals for the project’s launch which could include organising a specific launch event at the proposed Speakers’ Corner space (if there is one)and a series of debates on different topics and in different locations around the town in order to attract different sectors of the community. The Speakers’ Corner Committee should be asked to contribute to and/or endorse the proposals.

You may well be able to ask local organisations, including interest and amenity groups, to take the lead in organising individual events. They have the know-how, contacts and networks which could guarantee success. What’s more, they’re likely to be only too glad of the platform you’re offering.

  • Establish administrative support

Without the volunteers who make up the Speakers’ Corner Committee, you don’t have a project. But they will be busy people who though they will contribute ideas and oversight as well as credibility and contacts are unlikely to have time actually to manage the project.

You need someone who will implement the decisions they take and organise or coordinate Speakers’ Corner events. You need either a volunteer and/or a contribution of officer or executive time provided by the Council, a local business or some other body.

But don’t be daunted: this is very much a part-time and job.

  • Mount a fundraising and sponsorship campaign

Though Speakers’ Corner projects are not costly to run (unless you’re planning a major work of public art to mark your public space), you will need some funds for, for example, a modest website etc. The sooner you identify potential sources the better. SCT has prepared a template for local websites and, through its own web host,can provide a discounted hosting package for it.

Planning the launch will take time and, if you are involving VIPs in your events, you may have to wait for a date they can make or run through a list until you find one who can fit in with you. Even if third party organisations contribute to the launch, coordinating activities also takes time.Allow two months.(Securing administrative support and fundraising are uncertain sciences: they will take as long as they take.)

5

  • Developing a programme

This process should start at least in outline before the project’s main launch but should certainly be the priority thereafter.

You need to decide how many events you think you can manage over the course of a year and come up with a rough schedule of different topics, again in different locations and with different formats to attract different parts of the community.

It’s probably sensible , however, to allow enough flexibility to allow your programme to respond to opportunities and issues which may unexpectedly arise.

This is a task with a beginning but, hopefully, no end…

The  My Community Starter website provides some useful information, including advice on public liability insurance and other health and safety and legal issues.


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