Parasol offers a collective community vision of justice, hope and togetherness. It provides a secure and flexible framework for the benefit of citizens from the Upper Calder Valley in West Yorkshire which can protect them from threats of harm, exploitation and discrimination and inspire them to collaborate on a variety of projects which address the priorities of its local community members.
The overall aim of Parasol is to connect people with a shared interest in local priorities and enable them to achieve positive social change via co-ordinated action on community organising principles.
The objectives of Parasol as a local community organising hub are;
1. To identify local community resources and assets which can underpin all future social actions.
2. To listen to local people in order to confirm their skills, priorities and methods for social change.
3. To generate stories and narratives of hope which inspire local communities to flourish.
4. To organise community organising and development training and skill share activities.
5. To promote local voices and participation via independent resident or citizen forums.
6. To develop the capacities and skills of disadvantaged communities to achieve social change.
Parasol will challenge social injustice and inequalities whenever there is scope for organised campaigning.
The specific ARC activities which Parasol will engage in have been agreed following local research and consultation with the National network of Community Organisers. These have been modified following extensive flooding of the Calder Valley in February 2020 and impact of covid-19. They will initially be provided on the phone or on-line whilst social distancing regulations remain in force.
This will complement the activities of the initial partner, Disability Support Calderdale, to provide advice and practical support to disabled people in Calderdale. Parasol will jointly provide advocacy and advice to disadvantaged, isolated or at-risk individuals in partnership with DSC via Todmorden food bank, covid-19 mutual aid groups and other local networks. It will liaise with relevant national networks to uphold the rights and access to essential services for disabled people and others in need.
Parasol will recruit experienced researchers in action-based participatory or social research who can organise research programmes on local issues identified by local people. They will involve citizens from a wide range of backgrounds to investigate these local concerns in depth. The impact of local flooding has already been identified as a priority. Other issues will be agreed following extensive listening and consultation and may have to be delayed until social distancing regulations are lifted.
3. Community Organising and Development
Parasol will combine community development and organising activities during the initial phase due to restrictions on social contact. It will forge social bonds between local people on areas of shared interest and social bridges with broader local networks or alliances via on-line forums. It will have to work within existing institutional structures whilst national covid-19 restrictions are enforced but will challenge social injustice and inequalities whenever there is scope for organised campaigning.