Describe your best practice
Since establishing a Neighbourhood Watch WhatsApp group on our estate we have a much better means of communicating issues that arise. Many residents now feel we have a network where we can share information. We try to keep traffic on this channel down to a bare minimum so it is not constantly active as this may put people off. One or two have left the group but overall the increase in members on the group has been good. Important to establish ground rules early and to establish boundaries.

What did you do and why?
Started a WhatsApp group and promoted this on the estate. Established clear ground rules to make sure everybody was on the same page. As issues arose, the group created new rules where necessary to help to prevent issues or people becoming offended by others actions. The purpose of the group is to create a stronger community spirit so no naming individuals or any behaviour that will cause friction is allowed.

Duration of the project
Eights months.

What worked well?
Establishing ground rules early. Setting out a way the group can tackle issues with positive leadership and demonstrating ways we can tackle issues. One of the mottos we have established is ‘campaign not complain’. It is easy to moan about problems but how can we proactively solve the issues or start a campaign together to bring about positive change? WhatsApp alone is not enough. It is important to have meetings occasionally. Also people can misinterpret messages and it is important to be clear everybody has good intentions.

How did you overcome any challenges?
Establishing ground rules and allowing everyone to positively contribute ideas. Learning from mistakes. Listening to people. Reading carefully what people write in the group to check you have comprehended the information correctly. Not everybody will have a smart phone particularly older people so how to make sure they can still participate and contribute. It is important to have a mix of platforms and ways that people can connect to Neighbourhood Watch and contribute.

How did you cover any costs?
No costs involved. A simple way to create a network of communication on your neighbourhood watch patch by using existing social media.

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