Problems such as illegal dumping, issues with roads, straying dogs or hotspot areas for loitering and anti-social behaviour can be a real pain for area residents.
The Housing Executive or a Housing Association might be responsible for some areas, but others might be covered by the Department of Infrastructure. Behaviour issues may require getting the PSNI involved. The local council will also have some responsibilities for the upkeep of your area.
Your community may need to work with more than one agency to address all of the concerns on an estate. And it can be very useful to get them all together to ensure action is taken in a coordinated way.
Supporting Communities helps residents' groups to take an Inter-Agency approach to identify problems and find solutions for the benefit of all the residents of your area.
The Inter-Agency Approach
Estate Inspections are key step in the Inter-Agency process. Getting all the relevant agencies to come in person and walk around the area gives you a chance to put your case forward for support and change. Your Community Development Officer will help guide you through the steps to conduct an effective estate inspection and take forward any actions.
The basic steps of the process include:
1. Decide if an estate inspection is what you actually need.
Have complaints been made by local residents on estate issues? Do you need multiple agencies to address the concerns? Your CDO will be able to advise you if this will be an effective approach.
2. Identify the agencies you need to get involved.
It might be the Housing Executive, local Council Officers, Department of Infrastructure personnel, PSNI Officers, or Housing Association staff. It is worth spending some time up front forming a relationship with these agencies in order to secure their buy in to the Inter-Agency process. Your Supporting Communities Development Officer can help make introductions and get the ball rolling. If the right people know who you are and what you are trying to do, that makes it much more likely they will get involved and that things will actually get done!
3. Choose a date and send invitations to the inspection.
It is useful to ask agency representatives to bring along any estate maps that show ownership of particular areas.
4. Inform the local community.
Tell everyone that an estate inspection will be happening and ask for their input about what should be reported.
5. Map your ‘route'.
Compile a list of issues and/or hotspot areas to be inspected and where they are visible. This will help you to develop a route to take on the day and allow the inspection to run smoothly. Try to avoid individual led complaints.
6. Be there on the day!
Make sure 2-3 group representatives are there to meet the agencies. Your representatives must be familiar with the issues and the planned route to ensure everything gets included in the inspection. Be aware of what agencies can realistically take action on and achieve.
7. Complete & circulate the Estate Inspection Toolkit*.
This is a snapshot of the conditions you witness on a particular day. Photographs are useful to include! Further issues can be reported as and when they occur via phone calls/online reporting. Send a copy to all the agencies involved, even if they didn't come, they can still help.
*The toolkit will be provided by your CDO.
8. Plan a follow up inter-agency meeting.
Set a date for 4-6 weeks following the estate inspection to allow time for the circulation of the toolkit and for agencies to deal with the issues reported. Inter-agency meetings can be held repeatedly over the course of a year, e.g. once per 3-4 months, to monitor progress.
9. Keep the local community informed of any progress and promote your successes!
If all goes well, you will soon have physical evidence of your success. Toot your own horn, you made it happen!
Find out how one community in Newtownhamilton used this process to effect real changes in their area in a case study of Dungormely and Lir Grove Estates.