One of the simple, yet frequently overlooked cornerstones of community regeneration is the ‘location’ of events and service delivery. To those who’ve worked ‘on the ground’ it may seem very obvious but I’m amazed at how many organizations (especially large corporates) forget or may not have even considered that ‘location’ is an extremely important factor in community regeneration.
Let me explain a little more exactly what I mean by ‘location’.
Picture this scenario: You live in a deprived community, you’re unemployed or make a very low income, you have relatively low levels of confidence, have no savings or spare cash, you have two young kids and you’re not used to networking or engaging with support organizations.
If you were invited, by a well-meaning organization/corporation, to attend an event to help you start a business, which was to be held in a new plush, gleaming building in a large corporate complex (with security at the door of course), people in suits, lots of networking and ‘nibbles’ and was promoted by glossy corporate brochures with the ‘regular/standard’ corporate suited library pictures to boot.
Would you go? Probably not!
Why not? Because, that environment would feel alien, scary and extremely intimidating. You’d probably say to yourself, pretty quickly, that it’s not ‘really for me!’ and come up with an excuse so that you wouldn’t even have to give the event a second thought.
If, on the other hand, the same event was held within your community (maybe in a local hall, school or another similar small venue) and was promoted in a way and language that you could relate to, was possibly hosted by a local organization that you’d heard of and featured other local community residents (i.e. people like you), do you think that there is a greater chance of you attending? Yes, of course there is.
So, remember that bigger and flashier is not always better and may not actually be in the best interest of the people you are trying to serve.
And when you’re thinking about your location, remember that ‘distance’ is also an important factor. In my experience, people frequently won’t travel to get help and assistance (even if it’s free). Frequently, financial constraints and child-care issues play a part in this but often it is just that people don’t feel comfortable going for support outside of their community.
In the above scenarios, I am only talking about a single stand alone event but of course, the same principles apply ten-fold for ongoing community regeneration services. Therefore, please don’t alienate the people you are trying to support before they even reach your front door.
In summary, always ask yourself, how will your audience feel if you run an event or deliver your services at ‘X’ location. Are the individuals your ‘really trying to serve’ likely to come or will you just reach those who didn’t really need your help in the first place.
Finally, always try to put yourself in the shoes of the people that you’re trying to serve. See things as they would see things and just remember that what your management thinks may be the perfect location, may in fact be the worst possible location for those most in need.
Jon Yon – Fortoa Founder and CEO