All of our members are improving local lives day in and day out. From the long established organisations to the brand new groups, they’ve all been set up to make life better for their service users and community. The voluntary and community sector (VCS) can whiz by at such a fast but exhilarating pace that we can forget to take five minutes peace for a cup of tea (milk, one sugar) let alone read through all the news and updates that ping into our inbox. We most definitely do not have the time to blow our own trumpets about the resilient and creative things we do to keep us delivering all the fantastic work.
It was because of this that we decided to set up our new Brew and a Blog; An inside glimpse into how other local organisations operate and tackle challenges all in the time it takes to sup a well earned brew. The thought behind this new members only feature was that we wished to compliment existing information bulletins by giving an insight into things you didn’t even know you wanted to read about! We want this to be the place where you find out that a hurdle that one organisation may have overcome could be pretty similar to a barrier you may be facing or that an organisation 5 miles away could offer the perfect partnership working solution.
So, pop the kettle on and take that five minutes now!
The Space @ Field Lane has just undergone a massive refurbishment thanks to the commitment and passion of its Trustee Committee. Their determination to see The Space being fully utilised as the community hub it should be has resulted in a huge amount of community support and financial backing from funders.
Working from an original quote of approximately £80,000, the committee soon discovered that, to make sure the refurbishment had maximum community impact, they were looking at a cost of more than half a million pounds.
To find out more about this amazing community development and the people who made it happen, Voluntary Action Calderdale spoke to Mary Green, a Trustee and Funding Coordinator for The Space @ Field Lane.
Mary, thank you for agreeing to be our first guest interview for Brew and a Blog! What is the history of The Space @ Field Lane?
The building, based on the Field Lane Estate, Rastrick, was built by the community for the community over 30 years ago and was a well used community centre for local residents but sadly closed its doors in 2011. Determined to not let a building with such potential sit unused, a group of local residents came together to breathe life and community spirit into it again! The Trustee Committee is now a constituted Charitable Incorporated Organisation (C.I.O) and has worked so hard to get The Space @ Field Lane to where it is today.
With the help and support of Calderdale’s Neighbourhood Co-ordinator Mags Bryson and Sophie Michelena from Locality, the committee spent 18 months negotiating with Calderdale Council for the lease of the premises. Transfers of Council assets into community hands being a relatively new concept, the original lease was more for a commercial premises so it took a lot of to-ing and fro-ing with Calderdale Council to finalise the details but in July 2017 we signed the lease and the building is now in the hands of our group, and therefore the community, for the next 125 years. Once we owned the lease, we could then start looking at developing the plan for the building and to sourcing the funding which would be necessary.
Why did you first join The Space @ Field Lane trustee committee?
I joined the committee in 2015. As a Rastrick resident, I wanted to get involved because I believe in community and community centres and couldn’t bear to think of this building sitting there unloved and unused at the centre of community with nothing for local residents to do and nowhere to go.
The trustee committee is made up of 8 people who have all been ready to take this project forward. It’s a great mix of people; everyone has such different and eclectic skill sets which work really well together and we share the same passion to turn this building back into the community hub it should be.
Volunteers have been golden in making this all happen. Everyone on the committee is a volunteer and at different stages of this journey, we’ve had invaluable contributions from past trustees and there will be lots of opportunities for people to step forward when the centre is open.
The refurbishment of the centre has recently been completed and will be officially soon! Firstly, a big congratulations! How has this journey been?
I would be lying if I said it had been easy! No one knows how far you will have to go with no guarantee but sometimes you just have to do it and look ahead. Always keep looking ahead.
The Committee were all so determined that this would happen that we jumped in feet first. A local engineer came and had an initial look at the building and said that, with a make do and mend approach and fixing up the essentials, we’d be looking at about £80-£100,000. However, every new professional that looked at the building would always give us another ‘Have you thought about this?’
A big decision for the Committee was which direction we wanted to take The Space @ Field Lane; a make do and mend on the essentials or a full refurbishment of the whole building. A general consensus was that a make do approach wouldn’t do the building justice and certainly wouldn’t do what is needed for the community. We decided on a full refurbishment knowing that the prize at the end would be so much greater.
Very exciting decision to benefit the whole community! So understandably a full refurbishment meant a lot more money than originally thought. How did you raise the funds?
Well yes exactly – Turned out that we needed about £524,000 just for the refurbishment! As a major part of our plans was the dream of a fantastic community hub, the committee had increased resolve to ensure it became a reality.
During the initial fundraising stages, we applied to funds and trusts to help with the refurbishment overheads; as the costings for the building kept going up, we kept applying for funding! Our fundraising goal was so large that we tended to not apply for funds less than £30,000 and concentrated on larger pots for the development of this project.
My background is in Sales Management so I took on the role of Funding Coordinator for The Space @ Field Lane but I never wrote a bid alone – it was very much a collaborative approach with the whole committee. We quickly learnt that with the more rushed, slapdash bids we submitted, we weren’t successful so we became more committed to why we were applying for the money and our end goal. It was about putting the time, effort and passion into every bid. The bids we submitted could take days (even weeks) of research to write and we would go through several drafts and tweaks with everyone given the opportunity to have some input.
We now have 4 main funders that have helped this happen:
– Tudor Trust
– The National Lottery Communities Fund
– Rastrick Big Local
– Garfield Weston Fund
We also entered a competition to win a ceiling! We weren’t terribly optimistic about the outcome, but we won a brand new ceiling from Armstrongs, worth about £12,000!
The money we have raised so far is just the start for The Space @ Field Lane and, once the building is open to the community, there will be a lot more grassroots community fundraising activities to keep the centre growing. As part of the Community Foundation for Calderdale #iwill Youth Social Action Fund we had local teens as community engagement champions. They raised £90 for us by selling at a charity market various items they had collected from friends and family. That £90 was like gold to us as it was so beautifully done and reflected the local community spirit that propelled this passion project forward in the first place. The young people, in conjunction with their Youth Workers, also organised the really successful and first ever Field Lane Fun Day last May. And on top of that, they cooked and served a meal to fifteen senior citizens on the estate at Christmas. It was so fabulous to see the young people in action.
Through our links with Sophie at Locality we are part of the Community Anchors network which has been really useful to meet likeminded organisations and share ideas, good practice and upcoming funding pots. We have also had fantastic support from the Brighouse Rotary Club and Together Housing and there was a real buzz in the community about the development and refurb especially as they could see that the workmen were there; the power of intrigue!
Definitely! The Space @ Field Lane will have it’s grand opening on Saturday 7th September and you and the rest of the Trustee Committee have done a fantastic job making it all happen! Do you have any other advice for other organisations around applying for funding?
Keep pushing forward. If you could make something happen that would benefit your community and you have the passion to make sure it happens then what is there to lose?
Try not to complete funding bids in isolation from the rest of your group. You are all working towards the same goal and someone may contribute an idea or angle that you hadn’t even thought of. A team effort helps everyone feel valued and part of the process and journey.
Think big. We wanted to ensure that The Space @ Field Lane was accessible to all so knew we wanted to add a Changing Places accessible toilet facility. It is the only one in a public building in Calderdale outside the centre of Halifax. I had read in the newspaper about older children, teenagers and adults having to be changed on the floor of public conveniences and was horrified so felt we had to do something. It actually delayed our project because we had to wait to get this additional funding approved by the National Lottery but once we knew about the move to get these facilities installed wherever possible, how could we not go for it.
If you hit a barrier to something, challenge it. The Big Lottery Fund we applied for was postcode specific and according to English Indices of Deprivation, Rastrick is not a deprived area so therefore didn’t qualify for the fund. The Field Lane Estate finds itself drawn into four other areas so the true nature of the estate does not show up in the figures. Another of our trustees challenged this with the National Lottery and after a number of phone calls and e-mails, the Lottery did agree to accept our application. It seemed an impossible task but my fellow trustee made it happen!
Thank you Mary. Can’t wait to visit The Space @ Field Lane when its officially open!
If you would like to keep up to date with all the developments at The Space @ Field Lane, please follow them on social media @spacefieldlane or visit the website www.thespaceatfieldlane.org.uk
We can all be creative. It’s an opportunity to let your imagination take the reins and look at new and original ways to approach something. So if your response is ‘But I’m rubbish at drawing’ or ‘I can’t sing’, then read on…
I am a big advocate of creativity. Yes I’ll admit that my artistic skills would never get me an exhibition at the Tate Modern and my dancing would definitely not get me to the finals of Strictly but I’d still give it a go! This column is one of my creative outlets and has definitely reignited my love of writing. That’s the thing with creativity – it never leaves you. No matter how long a break you may have, it feels like second nature to go back to it. Even discovering a new creative passion can jog reminiscent memories (maybe of a particular song or a time in your life) and it can definitely help create new ones too!
Metaphorically, the Voluntary and Community Sector (VCS) has creativity running through its veins. As a sector that has always provided innovative solutions to some of the biggest health and social issues in the UK, it’s no surprise to see the number of VCS organisations who utilise creativity to help improve local lives. The organisations featured in this month’s column are perfect examples of that creativity at work.
Purple Patch Arts
At Purple Patch Lifelong Learning Programmes, they use creative methods such as dance, drama, music, literature and art (pictured) as a way to make educational topics and themes exciting, engaging and accessible for adults with learning disabilities. Purple Patch Arts deliver sessions to suit a range of needs, using a multi-sensory approach to create an immersive experience which is lots of fun!
As well as promoting a love of creativity and learning, the Purple patch Lifelong Learning Programmes also help participants to improve their social skills, confidence and independence. Every year they pick a different theme – this year it is ‘Imagine’.
For more information about Purple Patch Arts, please visit the website www.purplepatcharts.org
Awakening Arts is a Calderdale-based community arts organisation that runs a weekly group for people with dementia and other age-related neurological issues. The group, called Be Here Now, runs every Tuesday at Hebden Bridge Town Hall from 2.30-4pm. At the group they sing songs, read poems, create music, art and poetry. They share their joys and, sometimes, their sorrows. It’s a very friendly welcoming group and no previous experience is required.
Awakening Arts is involved in a lot of exciting projects; they’ve worked with school children, had musicians come in from the Royal Northern College of Music to jam with them, created a poetry book and they hope to hold an exhibition of their wonderful paintings later in the year!
For more information about Awakening Arts, please call 07591157841.
Verd de gris
Verd de gris is a socially engaged arts company based in Hebden Bridge. They develop and deliver a range of creative projects with people from across the North of England, specifically health & wellbeing work and intercultural community projects.
The company has won a number of awards including a National Dementia Care Award in 2017 and the National Creative Learning Award in 2019.
Verd de gris’ aim is to engage with communities where the opportunity to participate in arts projects is low. They are keen to show how local people can use the arts to impact on a range of social issues, and how they can use creative expression to transform their lives and their communities.
For more information about verd de gris, please visit the website www.verddegris.org
Men’s Health Week is coming up on June 10th so the next Voluntary Action Calderdale column will feature some of the local organisations supporting local men.
Friendships are one of the best things in life. The opportunity to connect and form a strong bond with someone who was once a complete stranger is incredibly valuable.
Whatever life has thrown at me – good or bad – I have always been so grateful to have my friends right there with me. From my strong circle of schoolmates to the kindred souls I’ve picked up along the way, I know they can support me through anything. They are there when I need to talk. They are there when I need to laugh. They are there when I need to cry.
Sometimes as a result of what life throws at us, people can end up feeling socially isolated and disconnected to their peers and local community. Launched in March by the West Yorkshire and Harrogate Health and Care Partnership, ‘Looking out for our Neighbours’ (www.ourneighbours.org.uk) is a social movement that aims to prevent loneliness throughout West Yorkshire and Harrogate by encouraging people to do simple things to help out their neighbours.
Voluntary Action Calderdale is one of the many supporters of this campaign. To show our support, we wanted to highlight how friendly and welcoming the Calderdale voluntary and community sector is.
Social isolation does not discriminate; it can impact anyone, of any age, at any time. With that in mind, this month’s column featured organisations offering a diverse look at how Calderdale is challenging isolation across different social groups. are all completely different to one another to show the diverse range of services available.
Identity LGBTQ Youth Group
Identity LGBTQ Youth Group is run by Barnardo’s Positive Identities Service, Calderdale. The group meet every week in central Halifax and provide a safe, supportive space for young people to be themselves, have fun and make new friends.
The young people who attend Identity said:
“It can be tricky at school, I’m not out to everyone, my friends at group get it and I don’t feel different.”
“I didn’t have many friends before I came to the group, but now I’ve found my people!”
“When I first joined, they arranged for a buddy for me so I didn’t feel on my own. They helped me get to know the others.”
For more information, visit www.identitylgbtgroup.com
Tuesday 2 O’Clock Club
Recently celebrating its 1st Birthday, the Tuesday 2 O’Clock Club was set up to help tackle isolation and loneliness in older people in the local area. The club (based at Stones Cricket Club, Ripponden) runs fortnightly sessions on the first and third Tuesdays of the month and gives members of the community the opportunity to meet new people whilst enjoying a varied programme of entertainment. The club has also collaborated with other similar groups in the area to form the Ryburn Wellbeing Hub and have started to run monthly trips.
Follow the Tuesday 2 O’clock Club on Facebook.
The Phoenix Shed, Halifax
The ‘Men in Sheds’ movement aims to help reduce social isolation in older men and The Phoenix Shed is no different. Catering for men over the age of 55, The Phoenix Shed can ease them back into a social group who are both friendly and doing something for the community as well.
Based up at the Threeways Centre, Ovenden, The Phoenix Shed offers the opportunity to just pop in for a brew and a natter, or spend a whole day working on a project such as wood carving or bench making.
The Phoenix Shed team love a challenge and can make and repair many things, not least of all repairing men they can also help repair men.
For more information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Pennine Magpie offers a dynamic, fun and friendly learning environment, offering a wide variety of activities and opportunities for adults with learning disabilities including dance (the fabulous Magpie Movers!), arts and crafts, computing, cookery and much more.
Everything Pennine Magpie does is to meet students’ individual needs and to help them achieve their personal goals, make lifelong friendships and live a more independent and fulfilling life.
Students at Pennine Magpie said:
“I met honest and forever friends including my best friend.”
“I was lonely with no friends, now I have a boyfriend and friends I meet on weekends.”
“Magpie Movers are the best friends ever. I love to dance with my friends.”
For more information, visit www.penninemagpie.co.uk
Next month, our column will focus on the organisations improving local lives through creativity.
Community is about being part of something bigger than yourself. Community is about unity, it’s about support, but most importantly, it’s about people.
Growing up in Hebden Bridge, I have seen firsthand the power of community and the strength that a group of people can have when they come together to help each other. The community response after the bleak fortnight of floods in 2012 and the Boxing Day flooding in 2015 revealed a solidarity and kindness that captured the true meaning of community. Through my job at Voluntary Action Calderdale I meet some amazing local organisations and see the impact that being connected to your community can have on people’s lives.
Community is an easy theme to write about for this column. In Calderdale, there are so many community hubs that provide a friendly and welcoming environment which have been set up purely to support their local community.
Phoenix Radio FM 96.7
Phoenix Radio is an inclusive and accessible community radio station, broadcasting to Halifax and the communities of Calderdale. The station promotes community involvement and provides broadcasting, volunteering opportunities and training for local people, giving them skills and support needed to produce and present radio programmes. In September, 2017, Phoenix Radio won silver in the National Community Radio Awards for Best Community Project of the Year and in 2018 took silver in the Innovation category.
Tune into the Voluntary Action Calderdale show every Friday morning 9am – 12pm on Phoenix FM 96.7. Every week, we have guests on the show from local voluntary and community organisations who talk about their services, volunteering opportunities and events.
For more information or to listen live, visit www.phoenixfm.co.uk
The Cornholme and Portsmouth Old Library
The Cornholme and Portsmouth Old Library is a community building and cafe where everyone is welcome. Based in the centre of Cornholme, The Old Library runs regular weekly events including a Toddlers’ Group (pictured), Job Club and Pay What You Can lunches.
The community hub also offers free access to a bank of computers and during school holidays, provides an array of events such as Film Clubs, Family Supper and Quiz Nights!
For more information, visit www.oldlibrary.org.uk
Town Hall Foundation
Town Hall Foundation is the charitable department of Town Hall Dental and is their way of giving back to the community that has supported them through their journey.
The work of Town Hall Foundation equally funds four key projects:
- Teaching proper dental hygiene
- Teaching adults with disabilities correct dental hygiene
- Providing essential dental care to those in poverty
- Supporting the work of other local organisations
For more information, visit www.townhalldental.co.uk/town-hall-foundation/
Halifax Opportunities Trust & Staying Well
Staying Well is Halifax Opportunities Trust’s flagship project to tackle social isolation within central Halifax. The service supports people to engage in social activities and health services in the community. It makes a huge difference to those who take part, as Sylvia’s story illustrates:
After being diagnosed with early onset dementia, Sylvia found her confidence at a low and became too frightened to take part in her usual social activities. After a visit from a Staying Well worker it was clear that Sylvia’s fear of being in unfamiliar setting was a big barrier. Sylvia attended a group with the Staying Well worker supporting her and was delighted to find that she enjoyed it.
For more information, visit www.regen.org.uk
Focus4Hope is a community group based in Brighouse set up to make a difference in the local community. The members of Focus4Hope predominantly work with the local elderly and isolated/lonely individuals, local homeless and also those impacted by the refugee crisis. As well as outreach services for the homeless in Leeds, Focus4Hope regularly host events such as film nights for the isolated elderly of Calderdale and have been involved in the refugee crisis in Calais, travelling there recently to take supplies.
In April, the team, will be completing a charity skydive to raise money for a minibus. This bus will help them transport people more easily so that they can help the local community.
For more information, visit www.focus4hope.co.uk
Next month, our column will focus on friendship and the organisations helping people to build strong relationships with long lasting friends.