Communities build a better future with National Lottery money

The Better Future Wales project is a partnership between Wales Council for Voluntary Action (WCVA) and the School of International Futures. They received £45,791 of National Lottery funding for their Better Futures Wales project – a pilot to support communities in Wales to create their vision for a better future.

We caught up with Aimee Parker from WCVA about the project to find out more and she explained.

With The National Lottery money for the Better Futures Wales project we were able to work with three communities in Wales. These were:
• Aber Food Surplus – a community organisation that redistribute surplus food from supermarkets.
• Three groups in North Wales – Resource CIC, Drosi Bikes and Y Ty Gwyrdd, these were really interesting as they applied separately to participate but we felt that they would work brilliantly together so we encouraged them to do so, this went well and they have since formed their own steering group to take their vision forward.
• Ethnic Youth Support Team (EYST) – through EYST we engaged with young people from across Wales who were predominantly from minority ethnic backgrounds.

Young People at EYST

We used a futures methodology called “Seeds of Hope” – the premise of this is to enable people to consider how a small idea or project can be scaled-up and to explore the impact this can have. In this stage of the process, communities work together to come up with visions for a better future without being restricted by barriers.

One example of a seed is a community car-sharing scheme. If expanded the impacts may include; savings for individuals as people would not need to buy cars, resulting in fewer cars on the road, enabling children to play in the street, better air quality, and increasing community cohesion through the sharing culture. It’s interesting to see how communities take seeds, develop them and consider the impacts they could have in terms of creating a better future.

Each community worked with around 12 seeds and through this process certain themes emerged. The communities then took these themes and explored how they as a community could move these forward and towards the shared vision. This includes considering how they could overcome barriers they face as well as building relationships with others and expanding their networks.

One positive of the programme is that it became clear that there was a great passion for making a difference in the communities. The people who were brought together were diverse and represented broad interests and groups so it was exciting to see them working together towards a shared vision.
WCVA see real value in developing this project and approach in the future. We are really keen to support new groups and organisations to participate in this process and to embed futures thinking as a philosophy in their planning and development. We would like to continue to support the communities we have already engaged with in the pilot and would like to explore how people who have been through the process can support other groups. It would be great to develop a network of people using futures thinking in their work.

As part of the project we have developed a series of blogs, podcasts and vlogs with each community which can be found on our website]. We’ve also developed a comprehensive toolkit which can guide groups and communities through the process step by step. We’ve had a lot of interest from a diverse range of groups and organisations who are interested in incorporating this methodology into their work, this varies s from government and public service boards to local and national organisations and networks. We are keen to work with and support these groups and see great potential for this philosophy and methodology to have a real and lasting impact.

The National Lottery funding has made a big difference and has enabled us to explore how this way of working may have the potential to change the way that we traditionally plan and work together. The pilot project has given individuals and communities the opportunity to look further into the future and to envision what a better future looks like and to think about how they may get there. The pilot has demonstrated that this is a welcome approach and can be very powerful!

The funding has allowed us to engage with communities in a different way and to allow them to consider a better future – none of this would have happened without funding from The National Lottery.

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