We are keen to explore opportunities to help communities become more empowered through community self-help, volunteering and local solutions. Building on the Local Choices events held in 2012 and 2013, this page promotes community initiatives and signposts to some of the toolkits and resources which have been developed to support communities in Somerset.
We want people to have more influence, choice and control over the way in which local need is met, to help communities develop and grow. If you, or the organisation you represent, has an idea or proposal that you would like to discuss please register your interest by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org and include your contact details with a brief description of your interest/proposal.
The Localism Act was introduced in November 2011. The aim of the act was to devolve more decision making powers from central government back into the hands of individuals, communities and councils. There is more information in the Department for Communities plain English guide to the localism act.
Under the Sustainable Communities Act Parish and Town Councils now have the power to send proposals to central government asking to remove legislative or other barriers that prevent them from improving the economic, social and environmental well-being of their area.
More information about other national initiatives and how you can get involved in your Community
Just Act also provides information for anyone interested in setting up a community project.
To find out about events happening in your area visit Explore Somerset.
Information and Resources
In the Information and Resources section of this page, you will find:
A Parish Information Pack, providing a reference guide to what parishes and communities can currently expect in highway services from Somerset County Council and initiatives you may be able to get involved in.
Links to a Community Car Scheme Toolkit providing information on how you can set one up in your community.
Information about Community Resilience Planning and preparing for an emergency. You can find more information on our Preparing for emergencies page and the Community Resilience website.
Details of a Youth and Community handbook aimed at helping volunteers and small community-based organisations through the process of starting a voluntary youth club in Somerset.
An overview of the Our Place initiatives in Somerset and details of the logic model and cost benefit analysis techniques used, which could be applied to any other community initiative.
A summary of topics discussed at previous Local Choices events.
Data, Information, Intelligence and Insight
The Somerset Intelligence website provides data, information, intelligence and insight on Somerset and its varied communities which you may find of interest when compiling evidence for bids or Neighbourhood Plans. This information also serves as the evidence base for the Somerset Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) which informs decision-making by people who plan, operate and commission services for the county.
Somerset Choices is a new website to help people across Somerset access care and support in the county. The website guides people through self-help forms, provides easy access to information and a directory of services, products, groups and events in their local area, such as care homes, help at home, mobility equipment, personal assistants, lunch clubs, exercise groups and breaks for carers.
Improving the health and wellbeing of children and young people in Somerset
Somerset Children & Young People Health & Wellbeing website provides a range of resources, including a Mental Health Toolkit to support schools, colleges, getset services, childrens' centres and the wider children and young people's workforce to improve the health and wellbeing of children and young people in Somerset.
Lifehacks are a series of web-based practical tips and ideas, developed by young people, to help promote and support young people to look after their own, and their friends' mental health.
Public Health is also supporting the national Books on Prescription scheme for young people (Shelf Help), in partnership with Somerset Libraries. This new national collection is aimed primarily at teenagers, and will complement the adult mental health Books on Prescription scheme. There are 35 titles, and categories covered include: ADHD; anxiety, worry and panic, autism and Asperger Syndrome, body image and eating disorders, bullying, confidence and self-esteem, depression, mood swings, self-harm, OCD and stress. Additional titles available in Somerset also include books on anger management and grief.
If you have a neighbour or a friend willing to visit the library for you, they can register as a 'good neighbour' and arrange to choose and collect your books for you. If you would like more information on the Home Library Service or to find out how you can become a ‘Good Neighbour’ please contact your local Library on 0300 123 2224. Find out more about the Library Service.
To help residents spot scams and doorstep crime, Devon and Somerset Trading Standards have produced a short training session outlining what local communities can do to help. If you need consumer advice, wish to make a complaint about a trader or report a matter to Trading Standards then phone the Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 03454 04 05 06 or find out more at www.adviceguide.org.uk
Preparing for an emergency
How resilient is your community? Your ward, borough, village or street? Your sports club or other community group? And what can you do to help build this resilience? By building on existing local relationships and networks, using local knowledge and preparing for risks, your community will be better able to cope with an emergency. In Somerset a number of agencies and authorities have come together. There is more information to help communities on the Somerset Prepared website.
Setting up a new micro-enterprise
Community Catalysts a Micro-enterprise project which offers free support and information to anyone interested in setting up a small (micro), local, care or support service in Somerset. To find out more please contact Rhys Davies on 07595411945 or email@example.com
Travel Somerset aims to provide all the information you need to plan your journey – from ongoing roadworks to live travel incidents, all in one place. You can check traffic conditions on our roads, check bus and rail timetables and even receive live updates on your smart phone. You can also get live information by following @TravelSomerset on Twitter.
An online map has also been developed by Somerset County Council to allow people to easily report issues on Somerset’s roads. ‘Report It’ allows users to report any issues across all 4,206 miles of Somerset’s highways – from potholes and blocked drains to overgrown hedges or traffic light faults.
All road works around the county are managed through our Streetworks Team – whether they are carried out by public utilities or the Council. This information is also on www.roadworks.org and provides the most complete and up-to-date picture of Somerset roadworks. By keying in the icon on the top left, titled map layers, and then entering ‘roadworks’, you can select a period (for example, today, 2 weeks of 12 months) and you can see the planned works for any location in Somerset.
If you would like to ‘adopt a footpath’ (in either a rural or urban area of the county) you can now do this by registering with our Rights of Way Team. This team would then ask you to walk or cycle this route 2 to 3 times a year and report any problems you encounter, to them or to a local Adopt a Path Co-ordinator. The path distance can be as short or as long as you want, and can be a Public Footpath, Public Bridleway, Restricted Byway or a Byway Open to All Traffic.
Small Improvement Schemes
A maximum of two small improvement schemes can be put forward for consideration each year. For further information and for details of plans currently approaching construction please visit our Small Improvements Schemes page.
Local Plans are documents that will guide how and where development takes place in Somerset; they form the development plan for each area, together with the Neighbourhood Plans which are prepared by parish / town councils or Neighbourhood Forums.
Neighbourhood Plans must be consistent with the Local Plans produced by the local planning authorities in Somerset (Mendip District Council, Sedgemoor District Council, South Somerset District Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council).
Other local plans are prepared by district councils for their areas and cover a wider range of topics including housing, employment, transport and the provision of community facilities.
For more information about Neighbourhood Planning and Community Rights visit the My Community website.
Sharing personal information (data) with Somerset County Council
Community projects (often those involved in aspects of social care) who want to share personal data with this Council, will need to ensure that this is done in a way that complies with the Data Protection Act (1998) GDPR (2018), and also with the appropriate consent of the people they hold data about. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) gives the best guidance on all aspects of sharing information legally; the ICO is a non-departmental public body which reports directly to Parliament and is sponsored by the Ministry of Justice - see https://ico.org.uk/ .
For specific queries over data protection see: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-data-protection/ and https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/guide-to-the-general-data-protection-regulation-gdpr/. The ICO also has a helpline (0303 123 1113 charged at a local rate) or 01625 545 745 if you prefer to use a national rate number.