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Tips to keep communities alive

Where the heart is: ten ways to help keep your community alive on the Norfolk Coast

As well as the magnificent landscapes, communities are what make the Norfolk Coast special.

Illustration for Tips to keep communities alive

Whether you live here all the time, for a few months or just for a few weeks each year, we've put together a list of ten ways you can help your community thrive, with suggestions for actions. They are:

1. Don't leave homes empty

2. Spend your money locally

3. Travel sustainably

4. Be part of the community

5. Understand your Norfolk Coast

6. Make your voice heard

7. Keep your place special

8. Ensure your safety

9. Watch your waste

10. Stay in touch and secure

Here they are in full, with practical steps you can take which have been suggested by and are already being done by many people in the area.  Please let us know how you get on, and if you have others to add!

1. Don't leave homes empty

If you are not there year-round, let out your home consider short term or holiday lets; long term lets to local people; or family and friends lets. Try to extend the season so that the local economy benefits from people all year round.  If you make your property a business you can register it as such with the local authority for business rates.  *Consider leaving a second home in your will to local housing charities which rent out to local people.
* Example of a local housing charity - Blakeney Neighbourhood Housing Society

2. Spend your money locally

Buy local products; information from the Local Products Directory. If you rent out your house, share information about local specialities - use Your Norfolk Coast. Invest in local products and maybe even create one - share ideas, experience and entrepreneurship. Find out where local shops are and use them for basics as well as special items. Make suggestions to shopkeepers regarding goods or services you'd like to see. Use local tradespeople to maintain your home and garden; use Trading Standards to find local trusted traders. If you run a local business, consider opening at times that suit visitors, like certain evenings or at weekends.

3. Travel sustainably

Help provide community transport by volunteering for a local car driving charity. Use public transport, especially outside peak times if possible, as this helps relieve pressure on rural buses. Provide information on public transport for others who stay in your home. Seek out your local footpaths and walk them; help maintain them too with Norfolk Trails

4. Be part of the community

Build up voluntary support networks through support in kind and fundraising. Set up or join local neighbourhood associations: share your expertise, experience and ideas. If you don't live in your home year round, make sure to leave contact details with several people with keys and stay in touch. Make links with local people, pick up your post, and update your contact details regularly when away. Maintain a 'virtual presence' through online channels such as Facebook, Twitter and Streetlife.

5. Understand your Norfolk Coast

Find out about local traditions, special features and issues; if you have information and have lived in the area a long time, share what you know and welcome others. Join Norfolk Coast Friends to hear about what's going on. Raise your stake in the community: get involved in parish plans, go to local events; support local culture; enlist on mailing lists; if it's not possible to be present be inventive and support in other ways.

6. Make your voice heard

Join in community life: volunteer, work together on common projects. Find out about your local parish council; observe a meeting; stand for election if appropriate. Parish councils could consider meeting on Saturday mornings in order to allow input from visitors.  Look into whether you can vote: it is possible to be registered to vote in more than one place, as long as you don't vote more than once in the same election. Contact your local district council elections office to discuss further and find out if you can register.

7. Keep your place special

Get together with other people in your community to bring together information and communicate it to relevant planning authorities. If you are doing building work, research appropriate treatments - ensure conversion work ensures the preservation of architectural heritage and helps create and maintain local jobs. Take care to include environmental impact and mitigation work in development so improvements do not spoil the area.

8. Ensure your safety

Look out for flood alerts, meet your local warden, and join voluntary flood warden scheme.  If you have a swimming pool, sign up for safety checks with your local district council.  Oil tanks can be vulnerable - there is police and crime prevention advice available.

9. Watch your waste

Stay up to date with recycling procedures and make sure your home has the latest information on what goes where and when.  When out and about, always dispose of waste, including any bagged dog waste, in bins.

10. Stay in touch and secure

Build a good neighbourhood network to look out for each other.  Having a trusted neighbour who is a capable guardian, with a key for your property, to keep an eye on it is an important tool in crime prevention.  Make your home look occupied - don't allow mail to accumulate, consider timers on lights. If you have an alarm ensure it is monitored either by an alarm company or a neighbour.  You could sign up to the Norfolk Constabulary Keyholder scheme.  Sign up for police alerts on crime in your area.