June 2016

Over 5000 people use Walkley Community Centre a year and between them they use it over 22,000 times! Walkley Community Centre is run entirely by volunteers. We need MORE people to help out and so that we can expand our activities even further. Contact us at enquire@firstreet.org.uk to find out about helping your community.

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The largest single minority ethnic group in Walkley is the Chinese population, and because we are currently seeking new volunteers we asked our newest volunteer Xi Zhang, who is studying at Sheffield Hallam University, to share her knowledge and views of community engagement in China and what we at the Walkley Community Centre might learn. 

‘According to my Chinese friends, the reason why some Chinese people lack motivation in participating community activities is that they are not confident in English. Therefore it would be helpful if WCC provide some free language courses! Also, in my opinion, the challenges of engaging volunteers apply equally to all sections of the local community and research suggests potential solutions are “choose a cause people really care about”, “show communities what they can do” and” keep people informed”.In my view Chinese local community participation is in a different situation because the central government prefers “top-down” approaches, for example the Chinese government spends significant money on building community facilities, whereas in the UK the Cameron government advocates a “big society” approach which is “bottom-up” and without direct funding for community centre buildings or running costs. 

Chinese community centres make a significant investment in advertising and also collaborate with local businesses in the provision of shopping vouchers to people who participate in the community centre’s activities, which is an idea for Walkley Community Centre. Both countries approaches have strengths and weaknesses because of their respective political systems and I hope to share and learn from my association with the Walkley Community Centre.’ Xi Zhang

Contact us at enquire@firstreet.org.uk to find out about helping your community or see our opportunities page.