Posts Tagged ‘Facilitators’

Sustaining the interest

Posted on 12th October 2011 by

martin proffittMartin Proffitt was the facilitator for the Byker Garden project in Newcastle, which completed last month.
Here, he outlines some of the imaginative plans from the group behind the Garden and how mambers plan to use their Sustainability Grant 

“I was really impressed from the beginning as to how the group behind this project ran with the seemingly impossible task of developing the project further and gaining support and momentum from all as they did so.

Now that the main project is complete on the ground comes the real test in sustaining support and involvement of local people in its long-term development.

I recently received their sustainability grant application form and they have some great, innovative ideas which should really help push their project forward into the arms of the local community.

The working group behind the sustainability grant development have really embraced the need to involve all sections of the local community.

To give you a flavour, they will be engaging with local schools, residents and other groups in a range of activities which involve activities such as… deep breath… practical gardening and food growing sessions, wildlife education sessions hands-on with bird and bat box making, mixing history and wildlife with art, using food produced in the garden for pizza making (using an outside oven!), creating colourful planters and window boxes to take home, BBQ days, local talent show and events, summer workshops, poetry and music, seed collection, storage and use, decoration making workshops, apple celebration days… nearly finished!… Hallowe’en celebration, mini-beast hotel making, art workshops in the garden – being inspired by the plants and colour around them, tree day – tying in with the history of the tree and picnics.


The group is also applying for an extensive list of tools to ensure they are able to carry out the maintenance of the newly improved area.”

Plenty of  ideas – and hopefully some inspiration there. Please share your plans for sustainability… you might just inspire like-minded groups up and down the country.

A grand finale for Northwood Community Allotments!

Posted on 14th September 2010 by

Another fantastic Community Spaces project launched over the bank holiday weekend to celebrate the opening of their new project. Northwood Community Allotments received over £35,000 from the Community Spaces fund to improve their community garden. David Hammond, the groups Facilitator, reflects on the groups launch event.

 Circus skills workshops, a BBQ and a DJ; what more could you want at a launch event!  Well, how about Miss Fusion, a 9 foot-tall stilt walker dressed as a flower?  All of this – and more – was part of a fantastic community afternoon to celebrate the opening of the Northwood Community Garden in Kirkby on Merseyside.

 The August bank holiday stayed dry (!) and hundreds of people came to see the Mayoress, Cllr Diane Reid, cut the traditional red ribbon to get the afternoon underway.   The music kept people coming all afternoon to try their luck on the tombola, see the snakes and other animals brought along by the Knowsley Council ranger service, and enjoy a BBQ burger.

 The afternoon was a great tribute to the hard work of the Northwood Mums group who, with the support of local councillors, have transformed the site with £35,000 of Community Spaces funding.

Originally an expanse of bare grass used for fly-tipping and suffering anti social behaviour, the site now has paths, benches, planted borders and raised beds.  The improvements have been planned to encourage people to use the site and provide places for learning about plants and wildlife.

 The extensive planting around the site was done entirely by the group and local children.  Getting the kids involved has really paid off: when preschool children pulled some of the plants out, the older kids just planted them back again.  The crocodile bench has been a real success; children have even been spotted doing their homework on it on sunny afternoons after school.

 For me as a Community Spaces facilitator, the Northwood Mums have been an inspirational group to work with.  Even before this project, they created a thriving allotment site from scratch.  Now the Community Garden has turned a wasteland into an attractive community asset.  I can’t wait to see what they do next!

 To see more fantastic pictures of the groups launch event, click here.

What is innovation?

Posted on 2nd September 2010 by

At a recent networking day for Facilitators, we discussed a perpetual topic – innovation. This is an area that can often be confusing and lacks tangible meaning to groups. The main questions we asked each other were:

What is innovation?

How does innovation differ between groups?

Where are the different areas for innovation in the project lifecycle?

Innovation is the introduction of new ways of doings things, something different, something unconventional, something exciting!

We have already seen good examples of innovation in Community Spaces projects, but we want to know things that you have done or seen that deserve recognition and should be shared. Your examples could be from any part of the project process: how you tendered; use of social media; a specific consultation event; the sustainability grant; the launch event; and, of course, the project itself.

 Some examples that have already featured on our blog are:

Turning an old tree into some artwork

A group gave ongoing progress reports and photos via their website

School children designing their own artwork, featuring their own pictures

An exciting Natural Play Area

 We want to share your experiences to help ensure all project offer something different and promote innovation throughout Community Spaces. Let us know your innovative examples.

A new and improved Publicity Toolkit

Posted on 27th August 2010 by

A new and improved Publicity Toolkit has been launched this week and is now avaliable online.

The toolkit is designed to help you meet the requirements of your Community Spaces grant. It provides advice on how to promote your project, organise events, and how to deal any media enquires you may have about your project.

We have designed the toolkit to make it more user friendly by adding new navigation links, so you can flip through the chapters with ease. We have also included a new ‘Social Media’ chapter, which offers detailed description on how you can use social media sites to promote your projects.

To download your copy of the new Publicity Toolkit, visit

Lemington’s playful memories

Posted on 10th August 2010 by

Lemington Community Association unveiled their new and improved community garden in July, and Facilitator Phil Macari told us how the launch event went.

Last month saw the launch of Lemington Community Associations’ ‘Community Garden Project’. Lemington is a proud, independent village, now part of the greater Newcastle area with a great industrial heritage, and an active and positive community association too. The garden is also close to the Coast to Coast Cycle Route and Hadrian’s Wall tourist routes: already the number of outside visitors to the area has increased.

After years of planning and fundraising locals have now turned this underused, bland and steep site into a place where people of all ages can sit quietly, play, meet and enjoy the garden, with its food, sensory, landscaped, wildlife and ‘Memorial’ areas. Up to 11 groups have already committed to adopting parts of the garden to help maintain it, and the sustainability grant is focused on giving more skills and opportunities to local people.

 John Shipley, ex-leader of the council, opened the site, and reiterated the achievements of this special part of Newcastle. There was a symbolic planting of a rose in the sensory garden by Liz and John, two of the main driving forces in the community association, families enjoyed sculpture workshops, and even a mobile healthy ‘wii’ station was on hand on another sunny day in Lemington!

Sounds like a fantastic project which will have lasting benefits for local people.

A successful launch for Hemmingwell!

Posted on 10th August 2010 by

Hemmingwell Regeneration Project launched on August 1st after receiving just over £27,000 from Community Spaces to improve their local square. Tamzin Smith, the groups Facilitator, went along to the launch to capture some of the community spirit!

The final piece to Blacon Community Trust’s project has been laid

Posted on 14th July 2010 by

This month saw the finishing of the Blacon Greenway and Old Station project that was funded by the Community Spaces programme. Facilitator David Hammond describes the transformation of the old Station site.

The final piece was quite literally laid this month in a regeneration project that has turned a grot spot into a gateway that is bringing pride to the local community.  

A railway line used to connect Blacon to the nearby city of Chester and Connah’s Quay on the Welsh coast.  The railway closed decades ago, leaving behind the site of the old station.  This sat neglected and unloved for years, a haven for weeds, litter and anti social behaviour. 

The coming of a Sustrans cycle route brought the railway route back into use, but it has taken the dedication of volunteers from Blacon Community Trust and £85k of money from WREN and Community Spaces to transform the site.  Stephen Perry deserves a special mention as the tireless volunteer project manager whose efforts have inspired hundreds of local people to get involved in the project.

The site has been themed around its railway heritage, with signs, fencing and benches that echo the age of steam.  Access improvements, planting and chainsaw sculptures mean that everyone can now find something to enjoy in the peace and quiet of the Old Station site, just two minutes from the heart of Blacon.

Most of the work was finished last December and was celebrated with a Christmas event complete with mince pies, Santa and snow.  But the centrepiece of the site was unveiled this month: a colourful mosaic containing 1,500 individual tiles! 

One thousand tiles were handmade by children at the five nearby primary schools, along with local community groups.  On Saturday 10 July, to coincide with the Blacon Festival, some of the children who had helped create the mosaic revealed it to an expectant crowd which included the Lord Mayor, Cllr Neil Ritchie.

The amazing mosaic is four metres across.  It brings together 120 years of history, with one half representing a train wheel and the other a bicycle wheel.  These bring together the past and present, linking the railway with the national cycle route that now runs through the site.

 As a Community Spaces facilitator, all of the projects that I am involved with are special.  It is always a privilege to work with people who are so passionate about transforming their local areas.  This project stands out because of the almost obsessive detail and sheer effort that has gone into making a unique piece of artwork.

What did you learn?

Posted on 28th July 2009 by

We asked a sample of community groups that have been delivering a Lottery-funded Community Spaces project what they have learned from their involvement in the programme. Key lessons learnt were:

  • Be clear from the outset what you want your project to achieve.
  • Get all the paperwork together and take the time to read it properly.
  • Be realistic about costings, resources and time for planning, developing and delivering the project.
  • Consultation is imperative as well as keeping partners and beneficiaries up to date with what’s happening.
  • Get as much support as you can from experienced organisations, such as a Groundwork Trust, and build good relationships with councillors and officers.
  • Make best use of the Facilitator.

What has your experience been of delivering a Community Spaces project? Please feel free to share your comments using the box below.

Meet the facilitators

Posted on 10th June 2009 by

Today was a rare opportunity for Community Spaces facilitators to meet up and find out more about each other and the projects they are helping through the programme.

Once through the first stage of application, community groups applying for funding are helped through the rest of the process by one of these friendly facilitators.
Rebecca Luff and Rachel Summerscales are two of the facilitators and they talked about the very first projects to come to fruition.  For Rebecca it was last week’s opening of a new playground in Rogate and Rachel claimed the first ever succesful Community Spaces at Fern Gore near Accrington which helped restore several wildlife lodges (or ponds) despite the windy and rainy launch!