Guidance and resources for Lambeth Street Champions
Here you’ll find information about what you can do as a Street Champion, different ways in which you can keep in touch with neighbours, and answers to some of the questions you might have.
Don’t forget, if you want to get in touch we’d love to hear from you. To make the most from our expertise or to share information or ideas you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 020 7926 3069.
You can also keep up to date with what Street Champions are doing around Lambeth by following our updates on our Street Champions Facebook page.
Sections in this guide (click title to view)
- 1. What can street champions do?
- 2. Communicating with neighbours
- 3. Frequently asked questions
- 4. Not a street champion yet?
1. What can street champions do?
We can support Street Champions to do all sorts of things as long as they contribute towards keeping their streets clean, safe and friendly.
Some of the things Street Champions have already done include:
- Spraying dog poo pink to send a message to irresponsible dog owners (it really works!)
- Putting posters up to deter litter
- Organising street parties
- Creating community gardens
- Conducting online surveys for neighbours to say what’s important to them
- Building planters to prevent fly-tipping
- Putting stickers on bins to remind people to take them in after emptying
- Holding ‘Play Street’ events
- Setting up Facebook groups for streets
- Clearing rubbish out of alley ways
- Helping elderly neighbours tidy their front garden
- Cutting back overgrown hedges
There’s no need to be limited to what’s in this list. We want to offer as much flexibility as possible so that you can identify the issues you want to address and find solutions that particularly suit your street.
It goes without saying though that if you want to do anything that involves someone else’s property, for example tidying gardens or cutting back hedges, please make sure you get the owner’s permission first!
2. Communicating with neighbours
Keeping in contact with neighbours can be a big part of being a Street Champion. From time to time you’ll want to gather or send out information, get support for a project or even start a petition. In this short guide we’ll look at different ways of keeping in touch.
Using social media
Unless you have a lot of time on your hands, you probably won’t want to go door to door every time you have something to ask or tell your neighbours. Using social media can make communicating with others in your street easy and, dare we say it, fun. It’ll also help reduce wear and tear on the soles of your shoes.
Here are a few points to consider when deciding whether or not to use social media, and how to make it work for you.
- Who lives in your street? Apparently around half of people over the age of 55 now have a social media account, and most people below 55 do. However, it’s worth finding out who isn’t online so that you can keep them informed in other ways.
- Most people (about 98%) who use social media have a Facebook account, so Facebook looks like the best option for Street Champions.
- On Facebook you have the option of setting up either a page or a group.
- Pages are used primarily by organisations, businesses and celebrities to feed their users or fans with a regular flow of information.
- Groups are a better choice where the focus is on communication between members.
- To create a group, go to your home page on Facebook and select ‘Create group’ from the menu on the left hand side next to your newsfeed, then follow the instructions.
- You will have three privacy options:
- Public – anyone can see the group, its members and their posts
- Closed – anyone can find the group and see who’s in it; only members can see posts
- Secret – only members can find the group and see posts
- For the purposes of creating a group for your road, the best option is probably a closed group. (A public group is harder to manage, and a secret group would effectively require you to be ‘Facebook friends’ with all your neighbours to enable you to send invites, which isn’t usually practical.)
- Twitter can also be useful. If you have an account and follow lots of local people and organisations, you’ll receive a wealth of information about local issues and events which you can then pass onto neighbours.
A regular newsletter could be a great way to communicate with neighbours (and let them know all the interesting bits of local information you’ve picked up on Twitter, for example). It doesn’t have to be lengthy or take ages to put together. A newsletter can be shared via Facebook, emailed around via a Google group, or printed and delivered through letterboxes. We can help you get started if you’re not sure how to go about it.
To talk to neighbours about a single issue, for example to advertise a street party or encourage more recycling, a flyer is a great option. They’re easy to create, and they make sure everyone receives the message whether they’re online or not. We’re designing some templates for flyers with the help of some of our Street Champions and they will be available from July onwards.
If you want to communicate to a wider audience, for example people passing through your street as well as those who live in it, posters are the way to go. They should be targeted to a particular issue, and shouldn’t stay up for too long or else they’ll simply end up becoming ‘part of the furniture’ and will cease to be effective. As with flyers, we’re designing posters with the help of Street Champions and they will be available from July onwards.
Ad hoc communication
Sometimes you’ll have nothing in particular to communicate. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t talk to neighbours whenever you get the opportunity. As Will, one of our Street Champions, says: “Just being able to wave hello in the morning to someone you've met on the other side of the street is surprisingly gratifying, and it changes the street you live in from a row of houses into a row of people.”
So keep those lines of communication open, and help make your street a friendlier and more welcoming place to live.
For more information email email@example.com or call 020 7926 3069.
3. Frequently asked questions
What is a Street Champion?
A Street Champion works with their neighbours and the council to improve their local environment. They are encouraged to decide for themselves, with support from the council, the best way to do this, depending on the needs of their neighbourhood. They will also be supported in other activities that benefit the community, such as organising play streets or street parties.
What will I be expected to do?
There are no particular expectations; we have put together an information pack suggesting different things you can do in your neighbourhood to reduce problems such as litter and dumped rubbish. You are free to pick and choose the activities from this pack that you think are likely to have the biggest impact, based on your knowledge of your local area. You don’t even have to pick anything from the things we’ve suggested – if you have another idea that you think will be more appropriate we’ll be happy to discuss it with you.
How much time will I have to put in?
How much time you put in will depend on the needs of your street and the activities you decide to do. We don’t have a strict minimum amount of time that we’d like you to put in, but you’ll need to be able to commit to as much as necessary for your work to have an impact. If you are really pushed for time, you could try enlisting one or two of your neighbours to help you. We might already have contact details for other people on your street, so we could put you in touch with them.
Do I have to cover the whole road?
If your road is quite short and without too many households, you will probably be able to cover the whole road. If you live on a longer road with more households, you’ll only need to look after a small section. You can work on a larger section if you feel up to it, and you might also consider seeing if you can get some neighbours to become Street Champions too, so that between you the whole street is covered.
Isn’t this the council’s job?
The council will still be sweeping your street; however, it’s also the council’s job to look at different ways of reducing litter and rubbish, and community-led solutions can be more successful at this than more traditional approaches.
Will I get any training or support?
Yes; everyone who signs up to be a Street Champion will be invited to a workshop which will cover all aspects of what being a Street Champion could entail. It’ll also give Street Champions a chance to meet each other and talk about shared issues. You’ll receive a folder full of information, and regular updates from the lead officer at the council, who you will be able to contact whenever you need to.
What if someone else in my street wants to be a Street Champion too?
Brilliant; if there is more than one Street Champion in a street, you can spread the work between you. You’ll probably each have different skills and strengths, so if you work together you’ll be able to achieve more for your street.
Can I get in touch with Street Champions in other streets to share ideas?
We’ll set up regular opportunities for Street Champions to get together if they want to. We also intend to set up a website to enable even greater collaboration in due course.
What about insurance?
Volunteers working on behalf of the council can be treated in exactly the same way as Lambeth employees for insurance purposes, as long as they are working under the direction of the council. This means that as long as your activities are in line with what we’re recommending as part of this project, you should be covered by the council’s insurance. If you want to do anything in your role as Street Champion that you are not sure about you should always get in touch with us first and talk it over, so that we’re aware of what’s going on and can advise you. More formal community groups should usually have their own public liability insurance, and we can advise you on how to go about getting it.
What if I start it but decide it’s not for me?
That’s fine; we’d always encourage people to give it a try, but we realise it won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. If you know someone else on your street who you think might be interested in taking over from you, why not ask them to get in touch with us?