I’m off to the City of Portsmouth Girls School (CPGS) this afternoon, leading a session with some Yr8 students to launch the Somerstown Stories project with them.
In October, as Yr9 students they’ll be going to SPPS to teach the Yr5 and 6 pupils some of the things they’ll be learning from me today.
Some of the Yr6 girls from SPPS will go to to CPGS as their secondary school, so both schools have been building links together to help with the transition process.
I think its going to be a fun and engaging afternoon!
So today saw me dashing around town wearing two hats: Fratton Big Local, and Community Development.
The Fratton Big Local meeting was with Ogroshol, the Bangladeshi Women’s group. A significant number of their community live in Fratton and they used to meet in the area, until the venue they were using became unavailable. The women I met this morning were lovely: very hospitable and welcoming and they had some very creative, thoughtful and positive ideas, including (in no particular order):
- better signage to community venues and facilities (this could include a map with local amenities, good buggy routes, recommendations for cafes, shops etc, as created by local people)
- local residents and businesses encouraged/subsidised to put up window boxes, hanging baskets and vertical gardens to make the place look more friendly and inviting
- using one of the vacant shops (there’s a large vacant lot near one of the carpet shops near the station) as a shop-front cafe/information centre, deliberately linked to FCC, so that people can go to FCC and make use of its facilities, but also to offer space & information and a street-level shop-front for the community
- invest money in FCC and possibly create an annex for a small-ish swimming pool (this was v popular)
- renovate the derelict warehouse behind the carpet shop, on the Fratton station side, to become a venue for a market, selling a wide variety of goods, produce etc. This would create a space for small/micro businesses, and also add diversity to the shopping
- offer funding to smaller community groups, such as Onglashal, but obviously others too, to help them with their running costs and/or development work
I thought these ideas were really fresh, and it’ll be interesting to see if they come to fruition.
I then went on to a meeting with North End Library and The Learning Place (TLP), both in North End, where I live. I’ve volunteered at the library for nearly two years now, doing their Bounce & Rhyme sessions fortnightly on a Monday afternoon, and also the occasional Story & Craft session in the school holidays. During the last school holiday, we’d planned a story & craft session at the library, and it was only by accident that we didn’t pick the same day that TLP were doing a Family Learning day. I suggested to Saj, the Library manager that there might be some mileage in meeting together to explore how we could work together, so today, Saj, Linda (the library outreach worker) and Elaine from TLP and I got together to find out how we could complement and support each other.
These are challenging times and services across the board are facing significant cuts, loss of staff and re-organisation. But despite this, the Library and TLP have some great strengths and unique selling points, and we came up with some good and achievable ideas. There are plans afoot for learning providers, including TLP to bring laptops into Wetherspoons pubs, so customers can access the internet and from that potentially decide to try some courses. In turn the library is supporting reading groups in pubs and there was also the idea of having subject/course related Library books stored at TLP, for course participants to access. We left feeling encouraged that despite the challenges these two organisations, and perhaps others too, could make some positive links that would benefit each other.
Meanwhile I had an encouraging day yesterday, meeting with Esther from Somers Park Primary Sch (SPPS) and Katie from City of Portsmouth Girls Sch (CPGS) to plan in more detail elements of the Somerstown Stories project which goes live in September. Yr9 students from City Girls will be coming down to SPPS to teach and work alongside Yrs5&6 mapping out Somers Road as it was just pre and post warm and I think its going to be a great learning adventure for all involved! I’m doing a prep session at CPGS next week, to help the students (currently Yr8) to get ready.
And finally: an opportunity has arisen to apply to be a Writer in Residence in Havant. I admit I’m tempted and would relish the opportunity to learn and develop my own skills, whilst supporting and developing others, but must also acknowledge that it might be more than I can realistically manage right now….!