For a while it looked like £eith Chooses would be a casualty of the difficult times of 2020. We launched a public survey, in August/ September 2020, aiming to try and keep in touch with the community in Leith: to let people know what we (the £eith Chooses Steering Group) were thinking might happen, and to ask people what their views were.
It was heart-warming and inspiring for us that so many people took the time to respond, to give the matter some thought, and to share their views and ideas. Thank you! From the responses, almost all of which were positive and supportive, we got the clear message that people wanted to see £eith Chooses continue, in as democratic and participative a way as possible.
You can read a summary of the results below and/or you can download the full survey report (pdf) here.
Since the survey – some very good news is that we have now figured out a way of having online voting, so £eith Chooses will go ahead on that basis. Online voting will take place 25 – 31 January 2021.
Q2. Continue £eith Chooses? 119 responses but only 69 full surveys taken
13/69 thought £eith Chooses could be cancelled, but 52/69 thought it should continue in whatever form possible, that was ‘participatory’. (4 didn’t know).
So overall, the majority of responses was clearly in favour of £eith Chooses continuing.
Most people (45/69) thought the ‘usual’ kind of themes (reducing hunger and isolation) are still relevant. Some (22) thought input from the community would be useful.
Q4. New Themes ideas (45 responses)
Of all the new themes suggested (some people suggested more than one topic),the majority of responses (40) clustered around these 4 general topic areas
- ‘mental health’
There were 45 other suggestions that covered areas such as: digital inclusion; (un)employment; coronavirus; active travel; homelessness; addiction / alcohol; hunger; early years / children; debt / poverty; health / well-being.
One person thought there should be no themes.
Q5. We asked what people would spend £5,000 on if they had it and there were 59 responses (and 1 Don’t Know). This gave a very wide and diverse range of ideas – many were quite open and generic, like
- More and better outdoor spaces, Mental Health support for Young People, homelessness, foodbank
But most were really specific, like:
- A group for advice and help for the homeless and low paid workers facing eviction,
- Extra picnic tables in Victoria Park, community orchard in Pilrig Park
- Create a network to support new and expectant parents’ health and well being
We can’t necessarily use these right now, but we will keep all these ideas, as a lively ‘snapshot’ of our community’s aspirations, for future reference.
Q6. Groups unanimously volunteered to nominate someone to attend further meetings. If necessary, using participatory grant-making (and some theme-evolution) to get around issues raised by lack of systems for online voting when coronavirus prevents in-person voting.
Q7. Of the 69 full responses, 24 were from identified Leith community organisations, meaning that the rest were from individuals or from community groups that chose not to identify themselves.
Q8. Further Comments / Suggestions
There were 22 of these:
Again, these ranged from the very wide and general to the very specific. They were generally positive and constructive. Some were obviously contributed by people who are quite familiar with the £eith Chooses process as it has run in the past, and who had given the matter some thought.
There were some familiar issues that have been raised before at feedback sessions eg. suggestion to exclude larger organisations and/or previously successful applicants from applying every year. (Or having a ‘gap year’ after winning funding.) (This is not possible under current Council regulations although there is a rule that applications are not accepted from groups who are currently in receipt of grant.)
There was one suggestion to ’Include BAME communities’. We would really like to follow up on that one. We have been trying to do this ever since £eith Chooses took over from Leith Decides, and actually have made quite a lot of progress (eg translation into other languages, outreach to BAME groups, Boost Vote), but we recognise that there is always more needing to be done. If anyone has practical suggestions as to how we can do this, and wants to volunteer to help, we’d be very keen to hear from you.
Somebody suggested that applicant groups could make wee video clips about their proposed project, which we had already thought about. But we recognise that puts some extra pressure on applicants, and also that this risks some groups having an advantage over other groups in terms of how easy it is for them to do this.
There were some practical suggestions, for example poster board displays about the projects, eg in the street or publicly, that people could read about the projects before voting (as well as that information being available online).
These, and many others not quoted here, are all ideas that we will bear in mind this and in future years.
Thank you once again for contributing.