People need services. But councils – which provide many of those services – are shrinking.

What are we going to do?

Here’s one idea.

Grow our communities, and enable them to deliver more services for themselves.

Now that might sound like a good way to dress up a bad situation, but there’s real substance to the concept.

And some councils – including Wrexham – are putting the theory into practice.

We recently launched Together in Wrexham – a drive to encourage more individuals, communities and groups to come together to make a difference.

Together in Wrexham

We’ll help residents who are willing to volunteer some time, knowledge or resources link-up with like-minded people to make things happen.

What kind of things?

Well, it could be something as simple as helping to coach a local football team. Or opening and locking up a community centre. Or helping an elderly neighbour.

It’s a new approach for Wrexham, but we’re not alone. Other councils with similar ideas include Milton Keynes and Worcestershire.

As it works, we’re seeing communities getting involved in delivering and re-designing some of the services that are important to them – resulting in better, more relevant services.

This is pretty amazing.

We’re talking about a fundamental shift in the relationship between people and local government, and it doesn’t happen by itself.

Councils need to do their bit – bringing people together, helping them develop ideas and providing support.

Together in Wrexham website

We’re not starting from scratch, because a lot of people are already committed to helping their community.

Here’s an example.

A group of local people recently took over Gresford village library here in Wrexham.

They formed a limited company and now open the library four days-a-week at key times.

And here’s another example.

Rhos Community Café describes itself as “the small café with the big heart.”

Managed by Wrexham Community Church, the café is manned by a pool of volunteers and – as well as good food and drink – offers local information, events and activities.

Both are brilliant examples driven by people who want to put something into their communities.
So it’s a case of building on the goodwill that already exists, and – as a council – giving people who act as ‘connectors’ and energisers in their neighbourhoods the support they need to make the difference they want to make.

We are genuinely re-framing our relationship with our customers, and saying that – by acting ‘together in Wrexham’ – we can continue to build communities for the future.