Is Broadband a problem for you? ThinkingWISP could help
From Norfolk RCC
Having been through all of the steps, you've identified and mapped out all of the assets and resources in and around your Parish or village, gathered information and understanding about why they are important and what challenges they are facing. You've also identified options for what your community could do to enhance and protect these resources and attached possible actions to these.
It's now time to pull these together into a summary report and action plan that you can publish and act on.
It is suggested that you work towards two documents.
The first is a 'main' report summarising under each issue/asset what you have found, why it is important, what are the challenges and what you have identified to do about it. As well as being a 'standalone' document, this report will provide the background information supporting your action plan - this will allow you to publish your second document, your action plan, as a short, snappy document for easy general consumption.
The 'main' report
At the end of Step 2 it was suggested that you organise your information into sensible categories and draft some of the information. Whether you have or not, now is the time to start drawing everything together.
The report structure and format is up to you but it is suggested that generally your report should seek to:
- introduce the Parish and the task that you have been working on
- briefly provide an inventory of the places and spaces of value in and around the Parish - make sure you include your map
- briefly summarise why each of these places are valuable
- identify the main issues and challenges facing those places
- draw out the options for doing something about these challenges (include all of the options you've thought about)
- identify the options that you propose to take forward (and why/why not other options)
- the actions that will be required as part of implementing these options
With such a report you should have all the background you need to support your action plan and a record of why you are doing what you are doing.
Tips for the 'main' report
When pulling the report together you need to maintain a balance between too much information and too little - you do want people to read the report so don't make it too detailed and 'chewy', but you also want people to be able to grasp the issues too, so don't skim over the them.
Something that will help readability is to have the report written in the same style. To achieve this it is suggested the steering group appoints someone to be the editor. The editor should take responsibility for making sure the report is clear, accurate, concise and well presented. In particular the editor should make sure the report:
- is written in the same style
- is presented in a way/contains enough background information so that the report can be understood by a stranger to the parish
- describes how the community contributed to the process
- includes some of the feedback you've had during engagement with the community, such as experiences, quotes, thoughts
- uses simple language - don't use jargon or official-speak
- is factual and objective - you've got plenty of facts so use them to back up your statements and arguments
- is illustrated with charts, graphs, photos or sketches
- acknowledges contributions of people to the process - you want as many people as possible to feel that their contribution is valued and has been accounted for
- is clear about your committee's role - remember, you are drawing together information for and from the community - you are working on their behalf not as an isolated group telling them what to do.
The action plan
Where your main report describes the issues, the options for doing something about the issues and identifies the options to take forward (and associated actions), the action plan itself provides a neat summary document that takes these options forward.
The action plan doesn't need to be a weighty document, in fact it is better if it is not. It should be short and snappy - a series of summary tables with brief explanation should be quite sufficient to get the key messages across and lay out actions so that everyone understands what needs to be done, why, how, by when and who is taking responsibility for each element of it.
The best way of doing this may be by using a series of tables - one for each of your options. Each table should list things including:
- what the option is
- what it seeks to address
- why it is important
- what the barriers, obstacles and constraints to completing the option are
- a breakdown of each of the actions/tasks that will be required to implement the option in the order that they need to be done
- an indication of priority and deadlines for completion
- the identity of the person WHO HAS AGREED to take the action/task forward - if you haven't agreed who is going to do something (or they haven't) - this is a sub-task under the action
IMPORTANTLY - make the revision of the report and the plan into an action with a deadline and a person responsible - you must regard this action planning process as an ongoing cycle - it is not just a 'one-off' document - perhaps identify options that you have delayed to future rounds of action plans so that you know where the process is heading in the future.
As the action plan builds on the issues covered in the main report, make sure you make reference to it (and the relevant section of it). This will make it easier for people (including yourself) to get more detail on actions and options if they need it.
Next step - get final endorsement
The next step is to consult on your report and get some endorsement for it from the rest of the community.
Hopefully you have the Parish Council 'on side' or they at least have endorsed what you are trying to do at some level. Present the report and the action plan to the Parish Council and the wider community - maybe hold a public meeting to present the report and your conclusions and ask for feedback. This will allow any issues to be ironed out and you can make any agreed changes to the content of either report.
Penultimate step - publish the reports and act on them
Once you've consulted on and revised the document, you're ready to publish!
Don't be afraid to make a big deal of this. You've worked hard and you've set out some important things that need to be done and that you need the community's (and others) support for.
Consider producing a summary leaflet of the action plan for distribution to all households in the parish. You could even start a quarterly newsletter - or get a regular spot in the local newspaper/Parish magazine so that you can report on the priorities ahead and progress with actions.
Make sure there are contact details on your articles and fliers - this will help you gather support from individuals who take a sudden interest or move into the area or are simply visiting the area and flicking through leaflets in the local pub.
Why not make a day of publishing the action plan and organise an activity to celebrate it - you could get some crossover here and combine it with one of the activities in the plan - such as planting, or clearing scrub or whatever is most appropriate. Don't be afraid to publicise this widely - on the radio, or in the paper, the more people you get from outside as well the more likely it is that you will 'spread the word' which will, in itself, help 'the cause', particularly if it stimulates others to do what you have done.
As well as circulating and publishing the report and plan locally:
- send copies to all those individuals and organisations that you contacted at the beginning and along the way (don't forget to thank them as appropriate)
- make sure you include your district and county council representatives and, while you're at it, send it to your Member of Parliament too
- make sure you send it to your Norfolk Rural Community Council officer - as well as being interested it, they will be able to show it to other parishes who are interested in doing an action plan as well as keeping a record of which parish has completed one
- as a means of 'spreading the word', send it to your surrounding Parish Councils - as much as anything, if they haven't started doing one themselves this may stimulate them to do so
- finally cost may prevent you from printing large numbers of reports, so why not use the skills you've built up along the way and publish the report online - there are plenty of instructions for doing this (if you haven't done it already) in Step 1.