Dealing with anti-social behaviour is a priority for Sandwell Council and their Safer Sandwell Partnership, with significant resources invested in diversionary projects and activities, and in community and resident engagement.
Chamberlain Forum, funded throught the regional empowerment programme Every Voice Counts, is using the Structured Dialogue Method (SDM) to work with the Safer Sandwell Partnership to explore how effective this work has been in making a difference. In particular, how effective at dealing with the concerns of residents about young people congregating in the street.
Structured Dialogue is based upon the story/dialogue method created by Ron Labonte and colleagues in Canada, and has been piloted and developed in Birmingham by Chamberlain Forum. Examples of use range from learning from Asset Transfer, to looking at experiences of influence in Balsall Heath (where MORI neighbourhood surveys found the percentage of people who felt about to influence decision making to be significantly higher than the city average).
How Structured Dialogue (SDM) Works
Structured Dialogue involves choosing a theme or issue that people would like to learn about – this time young people and ASB – and bringing together a group of people – between 8 and 12 – to take part in a story circle. The purpose of the story circle is to create an opportunity to listen to, and learn from experience, and turn this learning into a theory that can be explained to others.
The process involves:
- 2 main storytellers, who each prepare a short story beforehand – about 5 minutes – about an experience they have had, which is related in some way to the story theme, for example cohesion, or anti-social behaviour.
- The larger story circle, who will all listen carefully to the stories, question them to find out more (and possibly challenge them!) and write down any insights they have in the process.
- The bringing together of all of the insights that people have, into a theory. This time, about what works – and doesn’t work! – in tackling anti-social behaviour.
The Story Theme – anti-social behaviour and young people
Good story themes are provocative, and capable of eliciting a range of views and opinions. Good themes are also at their heart about power: why things happen, and who does what and why.
Through looking at the experience of young people in neighbourhoods, and local perceptions and issues of anti-social behaviour, we will be looking into:
- What kind of activities and behaviours are seen as anti-social
- What motivates and influences the behaviour of young and older people in communities
- What kind of projects exist to tackle problems
- How successful they have been – and why
- How local people – young and old – influence how local services respond to issues of anti-behaviour
Who will be involved
We’re in the process of recruiting local people who are either residents of Sandwell and /or closely involved in community activity in the area. We’re hope to involve both men and women, younger and older people, and people from different backgrounds to take part.
Our aim is to involve a group which includes:
- Local PCSOs
- Resident and community groups
- Voluntary youth groups
- Youth forum representatives
- Council officers
- Faith groups
When is it happening
The first workshop, bringing together a range of residents, young people and public sector partners will be held at the end of November, with a half day structured dialogue session taking place in early December.
Chamberlain Forum will then produce a draft theory based on insights gained in the storycircle, which will be shared with other EVC partners.
For more information about the project, please contact Hannah Worth at Chamberlain Forum on 07812 732 862 email firstname.lastname@example.org