“Man’s mind, once stretched by a new idea,
never regains its original dimensions.”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
In 2006 a young man named Ray Quinn appeared in the talent show The X Factor. I couldn’t help but like him. While he remained true to who he was he was extremely grateful for the opportunity of being on the show and wanted to make people, especially his mentor, Simon Cowell, proud. He went on to the finals and finished as the runner-up. In 2007, I felt proud to see him judging on Baby Ballroom, another talent contest.
In some many ways, he reminds me of some other young people I know of in Milton Keynes who live on the Lakes Estate. I guess like most young people they were of the opinion that they never had enough to do – they were bored. On the Lakes Estate there is an officer called a Community Mobiliser who has responsibility for community development within the area.
Described by a local parent as “someone who gets things going or keeps things going in the community.”, recognising the frustrations of the young people, the community mobiliser worked with them to arrange a number of sporting events. This included the rare opportunity to go away for an event outside of the estate and as such broaden their horizons. To her credit the events were a great success. They both involved and effectively engaged a lot of the young people. Significantly, they have carried on since the first event. What stands out about the events now is that they are no longer organised by the Community Mobiliser. Rather they are actually organised by the young people themselves. The only thing that the Community Mobiliser does to help is provide them with support at their request.
Their activities have had such an impact that they received the Queen’s Award for Voluntary Services in 2005. And some of these boys, though still quite young now are very conscious of their community needs and are working to help fulfil the needs of the young children on the estate who look up to them. They also work to support the older people within their community. To this end some of these young people also go to meetings within the Council Offices to represent their community’s needs.
It’s amazing how little things have such a huge impact. After all, these are young people that the typical adult would not think of talking to, who on their own part were very shy and would not have even contemplated conversing with adults, who now go to meetings and clearly articulate their viewpoint on behalf of the whole of their community.
There are a total of eight community mobilisers in Milton Keynes, working across the most deprived areas. Taking the time to understand the community needs and support the communities in fulfilling them through a number of different means inclusive of activity groups, workshops, trips and outings, but ultimately providing local people who sincerely care about their communities with the opportunity to improve on things for the collective good.
On YouTube there are a few videos which much better highlight the work of Community Mobilisers than I ever could. [i]
Copyright 2008 Extract from Touching The Heart of Milton Keynes: A Social Perspective
This document is the specific intellectual property of Susan Popoola. Content may not be reused or reproduced without the specific permission of the owner or a reference to the source. Opinions may be generated from content obtained from other sources and such content is referenced as appropriate.