Harringay Online is a website used by the residents of the north London borough to engage with one another and to have an influence in community matters.
Harringay Online is a network of local people working to strengthen the neighbourhood of Harringay in north London. Through social networking technology, Harringay Online provides a virtual village hall which blends web-based and real world neighbourhood interactions to build stronger, more empowered communities.
Harringay Online is focussed on achieving four main outcomes:
• Building a sense of place in the neighbourhood: an understanding and appreciation of the neighbourhood to encourage a feeling of belonging and regarding a place as home.
• Building social capital in the neighbourhood: building networks, norms and trust that enable people to work together more effectively to pursue shared objectives.
• Empowering local people to actively shape their neighbourhood: working to improve local people's ability to influence local decisions and affect local circumstances.
• Engaging people in local democratic processes.
Ultimately the goal is to increase the wellbeing levels of the people in neighbourhoods.
Six Features of Harringay Online:
1. The Harringay Online concept is proven to mobilise and organise local communities by encouraging locals to be active and to have an influence in their local areas.
2. The Harringay Online concept also delivers on the softer less quantifiable aspects of empowerment which are crucial to people's wellbeing. Membership in social networks was shown by the Office of National Statistics report on Social Capital to have a positive effect on reducing crime and improving health in a neighbourhood. It also provides a basis for deeper local engagement.
3. The technology underpinning the Harringay Online concept removes the historical cost barrier to co-ordinating group action. The Harringay Online concept is designed to be free (or almost free) at the point of delivery.
4. Technology on its own is not enough; without a real incentive technology is of little use. The Harringay Online concept is designed to encourage a sense of ownership and involvement that is critical to a project's success.
5. In 2007 the Commission on Integration and Cohesion explicitly stated that residents who believe they can influence local decisions are almost 50% more likely to trust local authorities. By enabling residents to have a better influence on local decisions, the Harringay Online concept helps build that trust.
6. The Harringay Online concept is designed to encourage people to engage in local democracy at their level of comfort which has resulted in many people engaging a little, some engaging moderately and others becoming very active.
Amongst Harringay Online's achievements are:
• The website led an effective campaign to fight the arrival of a cluster of betting shops on the local high street.
• The website ran a residents' priorities survey which achieved a 70% response rate. This was submitted to the local authority together with a plan to use its output as the basis for a local charter which has since been published.
• The website has led campaigns around traffic issues, recently generating the largest petition ever submitted from the neighbourhood, well in excess of the site membership at the time. In addition to signing an online petition, volunteers from the site covered nearly every street in the area on foot. The petition was so successful, that the local authority revised its plans.
• Site members are learning new information and new skills about how to engage directly around issues they feel are important.
• The local police are active contributors on the site. The website has worked with them to help them understand people's priorities and direct their resources accordingly.
• The website has actively sought to build the bridging element of neighbourhood social capital and is forging new connections between heterogeneous groups in the area.
• Members report the huge benefits of the site's ability to enable members to provide one another with practical and emotional support with problems and difficulties.
• Working offline as well as online, the site has enabled the forging of many new neighbourhood friendships and connections.
The website was recognised for its achievements with a Judges' Special Commendation in the 2008.
This article was originally submitted by Hugh Flouch but has since been adapted.
Website: Harringay Online
Website: Harringay Online
Create a shared vision amongst participants
Number of participants
Self selected participants attending as individuals (open access process)
Level of awareness and interest
participants need information and cannot articulate their interests
participants know about some aspects/can roughly articulate some interest
participants are well informed and can articulate their interests
Limit search to...
... online processes
Level of involvement