September has been a busy month in The Potting Shed (apple-seed HQ) hence why its been a little quieter on the blog. Here are some highlights that explain why…
It is with great delight that I can finally announce that Heritage Lottery Fund have formally agreed to fund the Somerstown Stories project! Although we knew this some months ago, there were some hurdles to overcome in processing the grant payment and so we couldn’t formally announce anything until that had been resolved.
The project itself started at Somers Park School in early September and its been great to see how enthused the staff and children have been as they’ve learnt more about the area where they live! My role for the school has been varied, including on-going research, sourcing materials and resources, meeting with teachers to help them with specific subject knowledge and also preparing activity sessions.
One of the most enjoyable aspects has been story-telling: I am co-authoring with the children a story called ‘Somerstown Detectives’ about three children known as Carrie, Edward and Ben who get involved in a mystery which takes places in Somerstown just after the war. I have deliberately tried to include factual evidence about the area as well as details of everyday life which would have been common at the time: rationing, empty houses due to bomb damage and familiar landmarks and transportation. The staff and children have really been enjoying the story, which is being serialised and told to the school on a fortnightly basis, as a special assembly.
One of the staff commented: “They really are enjoying it, even my new little one who was adamant he wasn’t going to listen but then wanted to say thank you!”
Fratton Big Local is ‘on pause’ at the moment, while the new round of consultation funding is applied for. Click here to see the report on Round 1: FBL GPI1 Report Aug 2011 Appendix A Appendix B Appendix C Appendix D
The element which had the greatest potential for long term empowerment and sustainability has also been the hardest to achieve: the recruitment of volunteers. Despite offering high quality training with support and the opportunity to be a part of significant change in Fratton, very few people have shown any interest at all, which was very disappointing. No doubt a more conventional method will yield some of the more conventional results that one might expect from a consultation, but I would question how sustainable or valuable a ‘tick-box’ exercise could be?
Each of the areas could have up to £30k to fund its consultation and in Fratton this is coming in two parts. The first part was called ‘Getting People Involved Round 1’ and the local steering group requested £10k. That money has now been spent, and although the intention was to begin the application process much earlier and thus have an overlap or a fairly short hiatus, the project then ran into external political difficulties which had to be addressed.
The next round of funding is being administrated by the Community Development Foundation (CDF) and they have appointed an agent in each area to support the local groups with their Round 2 proposals. Once Round 2 has been completed, each area must have a ‘Community Plan’ drafted, which is essentially the blue-print for how the £1m will be spent. This is a crucial time for the programme, and it’s essential that not only are we as effective as we can be in gathering information and envisioning local people, but also that we are supported and aided by the key organisations and agencies in the area. We only get one shot at making this work, and I sincerely hope we can make the most of this rare opportunity.
And finally: a tentative window may be opening around a small community cohesion project run with some students from Kaospilots. Its early days yet, and negotiations between the students and one of my former Creative Partnerships schools, Admiral Lord Nelson are proving to be a little hiccupy (not least because of the added international dimension!) However, Kaospilots are interested and the school is open to the idea, so I’m hopeful that we can work something out that will be beneficial to both organisations AND meet the stated aim of building towards community cohesion.