The role of QWAG in community development has been highlighted in a recently published report.
The report is the result of a research project that investigated the voluntary and community sector’s contribution to economic and social outcomes in Lewisham. Although identified as a group with a special aim, QWAG’s actions and methods are seen to have brought wide benefits to the local community.
The group’s initiation of a natural flood alleviation scheme that avoids concrete channeling, has increased biodiversity and made aesthetic improvements to the area. Its collaboration with the statutory sector is seen as a good example of ‘co-production theory’ – efficient results coming from local residents participating in producing public goods and services. The group’s local knowledge and enthusiasm has meant that “the river authority can work towards… …integrated flood alleviation across boroughs.”
The economic and social benefits of QWAG’s involvement with Chinbrook Meadows are particularly emphasised. These emblematic views of the river in the park before and after restoration are included in the case study.
QWAG’s involvement with Chinbrook Meadows is particularly emphasised. Restoration of the river and park brought significant economic benefits to the area – £1.1 million raised, with 52.5% from sources outside the borough. Social benefits have followed – a little used open space has been transformed into a popular park, cherished and cared for by local people of all ages.
The case study concludes: “Much of the success of QWAG results from the commitment and enthusiasm of individual volunteers and the manner in which they have established strategic relations with other organisations. The group’s success at meeting their own objectives in addition to assisting the local statutory sector agencies in meeting theirs is a positive reflection of their empowerment and therefore of how they have been involved in community development.”
The research project was conducted by the Lewisham Strategic Partnership support team. The full report “Valuing the Voluntary and Community Sector – Report from Mapping the Sector in Lewisham 2005” can be downloaded from the Lewisham Strategic Partnership website. The QWAG case study can be downloaded as a Word document (80kb).