Gift of the gadgets to get residents talking

helpful: Fun day on the Callon estate where the Bespoke project began working with the community and members of the Fishwick Rangers Youth Development Scheme to test the gadgets
helpful: Fun day on the Callon estate where the Bespoke project began working with the community and members of the Fishwick Rangers Youth Development Scheme to test the gadgets
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A city estate has been kitted out with an array of new gadgets to help people communicate and give their views on issues.

People living on the Callon and Fishwick estates in Preston have been taking part in the Bespoke project with the University of Central Lancashire to explore how they communicate.

After gathering data and information, academics from universities around the country have produced a range of equipment aimed at giving people a voice.

Among the new initiatives are three electronic boards which community groups can use to advertise their events along with a weather vane pointing in the direction of the event.

The Way Finders have been placed at the YMCA, on Samuel Street, Contour House on Downing Street, Callon, and outside St Matthew’s Church, on New Hall Lane.

Project co-ordinator John Mills said: “Part of the methodology is to use community stories and information to inspire the designs.

“There are lots of events in Callon and Fishwick and we thought it would be good to give them a different way of displaying what they do.”

Research also found people in the area felt they struggled to get their opinions heard so the team developed an electronic device which allows them to vote on and give opinions on a range of issues.

Viewpoint machines have been placed in the Londis on New Hall Lane, the YMCA and Contour House, which will ask people a different question every week.

He said: “Local councils or housing associations may want to use it.

“People can walk up to the machine and vote or the can text it the response.

“If for example, a number of groups are doing Britain in Bloom and they want to know where to do it, they will ask that question and it can even get their thoughts.”

Fayyaz Ahmed, general secretary of Fishwick Rangers Youth Development Scheme which is based at the Preston YMCA, said: “The gadgets are really good. They can advertise the activities going on it which is fantastic because they have got them around the area.

“We can get information to the wider public. Because we are the voluntary sector it is hard to advertise, but all we will have to do is put it in, and it comes up on all three machines.

“It will reach out to more people than we are currently doing.

“If we do an open day we will just input it and it will be up in Callon, St Matthew’s and Fishwick.”

But Fayyaz said the Viewpoint machine may need to be altered to stop people voting multiple times.

He added: “The first poll was asking about rubbish and there were about 360 votes but kids might have been abusing it by keeping pressing it (voting button).

“It may need tweaking.”