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Meeting notes from 23 October 2021

A small group of community members, including representatives from the OCA and OBSID, convened this meeting for an Obs-led journey to address social issues in inclusive, fair and sustainable ways. Andrew Boraine, an independent facilitator, led the discussion. About 36 people attended

Starting the journey

These preliminary discussions are the beginning of a journey in which we hope many more people will become involved as we work towards finding solutions to various social issues in Obs. These notes are therefore the ideas of people at that meeting, but we expect them to develop and change as others get involved.  People – and local organisations and businesses – may join in the journey as they would like to. The idea is to both consult broadly within Obs – and beyond – as well as to take actions together as we address local social issues.

To ensure balance and fairness, the proposal is that our journey is facilitated by an independent outsider who will work with an Advisory Group made up of Observatory residents. The Advisory Group’s task will be to agree on objectives, design a roadmap, assist with fact-finding and mapping of stakeholders in Observatory and in the wider environment, guide the work of the facilitator, ensure accountability and help communicate with stakeholders. 

In addition there will be various action groups which focus on particular issues. In this way residents can work on issues that interest them – and get to know people with similar interests.

And, of course, there will be various communications about the progress being made so residents who are not directly involved can keep informed

At the meeting, the participants indicated in which ways they would like to be involved – and we intend that others who were not at the meeting do so too as the journey gets going.

Motivation for the journey

A once-off public meeting, where everyone airs opposing views, is not a constructive way to solve problems. What is required is a balanced and inclusive journey (process) to arrive at fair, sustainable, and lasting solutions for all Observatory residents.

Aims of the proposed journey:

o   To develop a shared understanding of the issues (both the symptoms and the root causes).

o   To identify a common agenda (things that matter to everyone) so that Obs residents, despite possible differences, can work together to design and deliver agreed solutions that benefit everyone.

o   To translate dialogue into action, because working together is the best way to build trust in action.

o   To promote a shared inclusive Obs identity.

o   To create space to reflect, learn and adjust the route of the journey and the actions along the way.

Our shared values

A journey together works best if we travel with shared principles and values. Meeting attendees identified the following as values they would like during our consultations and working together:

·       Everyone is a resident, whether formally or informally housed

·       Journey to be driven by Obs residents

·       Inclusive

·       Diversity – and recognition that difference is okay

·       Sense of community

·       Goodwill

·       Respect each other

·       Human dignity / Restoring dignity

·       Fairness

·       Caring

·       Feel safe (during the journey)

·       Honest communication and transparency

·       Simplify communication to make it accessible for all

·       Listen deeply

·       Recognition that there is no “one size fits all”

·       Search for the middle ground – compromises may be required

·       Open to innovation (new ideas and new ways of doing things)

·       Confidentiality around people’s stories

·       Turn dialogue into action (make progress)

Issues to consider

·       Grow the process over time; anyone can join the journey and come on board at any point.

·       The proposed Advisory Group is not the only way to participate in the journey. The process will also require action and working groups.

·       Map stakeholders in Observatory to ensure full participation.

·       Small groups are better to be able to hear all voices.

·       Communicate the proposed journey in a number of different (and simple) ways and obtain feedback.

·       There will be a need to engage and influence stakeholders in the wider system (city-wide policies, politics, laws, regulations, etc.) along the way.

·       It is helpful if there is a shared vision amongst participants at the beginning of the journey. But often, at the beginning, there may be many competing and contradictory visions. Don’t let this stop the journey from starting. Use the journey itself to build a shared vision along the way.

·       Seek commonalities and work with Ubuntu.

Actions that Obs residents can take now

·       Develop a community database to raise awareness of what is on offer (For example:  service providers are being listed on

·       Recognise that “I” / “we” must act and do what we can.

·       Organise community events and activities to create a sense of community.

·       Provide emotional support for Obs residents.

·       Hold debates within the community about how safety affects all residents.

·       Create a Peace Garden.

·       Engage in food growing in Obs.

·       Encourage various meal providers collaborate and align their programmes.

·       Sanitation issues: provide rubbish bags and more frequent rubbish bag collection; water to residents living on Village Green; access to showers.

·       Fire safety issues: provide tools to fight fires inc extinguishers; training on how to fight fires; guidelines regarding fire safety issues.

·       Set up a depot to collect eco bricks; use eco bricks in constructing shelters.

·       Provide access to a computer for job hunting; increase access to library computers.

·       Offer workshops on work / career opportunities; assist with job hunting / writing CVs; offer mentoring.

·       Provide skills training within the community or link with organisations that provide skills training.

Next steps

The next steps are to convene two initial meetings:

·       of those who would like to be involved in actions; and

·       those who would like to be part of the Advisory  Group.

We will contact those who indicated an interest in participating in either of these – but invite anyone else who is interested to attend. They will be held on Saturday 6th November in the Obs Community Centre:

·       Action groups: 10:00-11:00

·       Advisory Group: 11:00 – 12:00