Section 4 - LET'S INSPIRE!
This section of Let’s Do It! provides information about some successful community projects in Northumberland and later some ideas to inspire you
1. Developing tourism in your community
2. Keeping a village hall open
3. Keeping a village shop open
4. Setting up a community flooding partnership
5. Improving the physical surroundings of your area
6. Providing employability support
7. Rural Employability Project
8. Involving young people in decision making
9. Parish and neighbourhood planning
10. Community transport schemes
11. Setting up a community radio station
New ideas and inspiration
12. Communities taking over public assets and services
13. Social enterprises
15. Setting up a development trust
16. Setting up a community land trust
17. Setting up a community interest company
18. Meeting local community housing needs
19. Projects with a green/environmental focus
20. Community Broadband
21. Turning community empowerment into action
1. DEVELOPING TOURISM IN YOUR COMMUNITY
Newbiggin Art Trail and Maritime Centre
Newbiggin by the Sea has a thriving artistic community and a rich variety of artworks to explore. “Couple” by Sean Henry may be the most famous, but there are now 40 other pieces of public and community arts in the town. The local primary school was involved from the start, contributing panels to an arts trail through the town.
The trail is a good example of partnership working between a town council and a local community that takes pride in its environment and wants to showcase its artistic talent. It brings people to the village, takes around two hours to walk and encourages people to stay for a pub lunch.
The Maritime Centre is a multi-million pound project entirely run by local volunteers, providing valuable community space and celebrating Newbiggin’s rich maritime history. It provides a year round visitor, heritage and education centre, providing tourist information, visitor interpretation and orientation, education and heritage facilities, display space for major artifacts, employment & volunteering opportunities, catering and retail facilities and a community archive for research.
- You can download a copy of the Newbiggin Art Trail leaflet here.
- Information about the Maritime Centre can be downloaded here.
2. KEEPING A VILLAGE HALL OPEN
Greenhead Village Hall
Built and owned by the Blenkinsopp Hall Estate and then passed to the Church, Greenhead Village Hall eventually became dilapidated and, in 1997, the Church decided that it could no longer afford to keep up the repairs and intended to hand it back to the estate unless anyone could come up with some ideas for its restoration. A group of local enthusiasts did just that, spending the next six years raising funds for refurbishment and a major extension.
With funds raised from local Trusts and The Big Lottery and support from the Haltwhistle Partnership and Community Action Northumberland, the work was completed in 2003 and now provides a home to a range of art & crafts groups, training courses, the local history group, a parent and toddler group and a growing youth club. It is also home to the hugely successful social enterprise, Hadrian’s Wall Farmers’ Market, which takes place every month and has regularly attracted up to 300 people into the village.
The revitalised hall and the project’s process itself has galvanised the community and encouraged other local communities with village halls to explore the possibilities for making better use of their community spaces.
- You can find out more about Greenhead Village Hall here.
- There is a consortium of 40 village halls in North Northumberland. Further information available here.
- ACRE runs a Village Hall Information Service. Further information available here.
3. KEEPING A VILLAGE SHOP OPEN
Humshaugh Village Shop
The post office in Humshaugh closed in 2008 and an action committee was formed by the local community to discuss the future of the village’s only shop. The action committee became the Board of Directors for Humshaugh Community Ventures Ltd and began to raise funds for the community to take over the shop and run it. More than £35,000 was raised in total with support in kind from a local businessman towards refurbishment. The completely refurbished shop opened in 2009 and is run by a rota of community volunteers who have been trained. The community is wholly responsible for the shop now and the process has created a strong sense of local ownership and pride.
- The Plunkett Foundation has some valuable advice for people wanting to take over and run their village shop. Further information available here.
- ACRE produce case studies of community shops. Further information available here.
4. SETTING UP A COMMUNITY FLOODING PARTNERSHIP
Northumberland Community Flooding Partnership
This partnership was formed in 2009 after it was recognised that there was a demand for help and information to individuals and communities following the flooding in 2008. It is funded by the Environment Agency and works with a steering group made up of members from 14 organisations and agencies. The project officer provides a bespoke service for each community, as each has their own unique set of issues and problems.
The project helps people (including the partner organisations) to understand the cause of the flooding and be better prepared for when it happens again. This has resulted in some instances of flood mitigation work being undertaken.
The groups once formed, determine a planned course of action they will take before and when help arrives. The communities pool resources and to work together to look at the issues affecting them. The project still focuses mainly on communities within remote rural areas that get cut off for long periods of time during flooding, however plans are being made for the project to extend into Tyne and Wear.
Since the project started, information help and advice have been given to around 20 communities and at least 250 individuals. It is estimated that this has led to the production of at least 90 individual flood plans and 11 community flood plans. The production of individual or a community plan can easily reduce damage by £10K per household affected.
5. IMPROVING THE PHYSICAL SURROUNDINGS OF YOUR AREA
Castle, Woods and Water, Greater Morpeth Development Trust
Castle, Woods and Water started in 2004 as a government-supported ‘Liveability’ project, owned by the communities of Castle Morpeth. The funds were managed by Castle Morpeth Borough Council and the project was supported by a project board made up of many communities and public and private sector organisations with an interest in the regeneration of the area. The project covers an area of land running along both sides of, and including, the River Wansbeck. The idea behind the project is to help communities in and around Morpeth improve and enjoy their surroundings, including historic buildings, ancient woodland and river from Mitford to Bothal.
Responsibility for the project is now in the hands of Greater Morpeth Development Trust and the initiative continues to work on projects that encourage and use communities’ input into improvements to the surrounding environment. Projects include the upgrading of paths so that they are suitable for wheelchair users and providing more seating and information on the history and wildlife of the area.
Find out more here.
6. PROVIDING EMPLOYABILITY SUPPORT
Northumberland Rural Employability Project
This project focuses on unemployment issues in rural areas of Northumberland. It was piloted initially in Seahouses and Wooler and is organised by the local development trust. The project works with local communities, support agencies and unemployed people in isolated areas, providing support and information for them and helping them secure local, sustainable jobs or start their own businesses. Local drop-ins and training courses have both been a feature of the project.
One of the main successes of the project is focusing development trusts across the county on the importance of tackling rural unemployment and working with those without jobs to improve their opportunities.
- For more information on this project click here.
- For more detail on the project in Wooler click here.
- For an insight into rural employment initiatives across England click here.
7. RURAL EMPLOYABILITY PROJECT
Content coming soon
8. INVOLVING YOUNG PEOPLE IN DECISION MAKING
Young Inspector’s Initiative
A two year national programme funded partly by Northumberland County Council and partly by the Department for Education, running from 2009 - 2011. The programme recruited young people from disengaged backgrounds and provided them with training to become inspectors.
With this training, the young people could then go out and assess services against set criteria to make sure they catered for and would listen to young people. Services ranged from public sector organisations such as healthcare and youth-offender services to private companies such as ARRIVA travel.
Young Inspectors then had to produce a report providing judgements and recommendations to these services and also conduct a review six months after.
You can find our more about the national Young Inspector’s programme (2009 – 2011) here.
The programme has also been relaunched by the Participation Works partnership. You can find more information on the current programme here.
9. PARISH AND NEIGHBOURHOOD PLANNING
A Parish or Neighbourhood Plan is a ‘vision’ for the future of a community. It should set out how people want it to change in the future. To be taken seriously, it has to be a practical plan, which the community can help to bring to fruition….nobody benefits from a wish-list. But above all, it has to be a genuine community plan – one which most people in the parish or neighbourhood support. So a Parish Plan needs to be based on robust and inclusive community consultation. What goes into it must always reflect the views of local people.
Community-led planning is a key priority for the Government’s Big Society initiative, which aims to bring decision-making on local issues as close to local communities as possible.
Separate guidance on the Government’s new neighbourhood planning system can be found in the Let’s Do It section of this Guide.
- For useful guidance on community-led planning – including parish and neighbourhood plans – click here.
- FREE Case studies that show how Community Led Planning works in practice, collated by ACRE (Action with Communities in Rural England) available here.
- A recent example of a Northumberland Parish Plan can be downloaded here.
10. COMMUNITY TRANSPORT SCHEMES
ADAPT (North East)
Amongst other community services, Adapt (North East) runs a community transport scheme which helps people who are rurally-isolated or disabled to get around and access services more easily. After initial Government funding, the project is now largely self-funded.
People have to pay a small sum to become a member of the scheme and to access its services, current membership consists of around 60 community groups and 400 individual members. The scheme delivers both home to school contracts for the County Council and has wheelchair-accessible vehicles for a Dial-a-Ride service throughout Northumberland. The vehicles can be booked by members (individuals and groups) to take them to hospital appointments or simple trips into towns/to see friends. Vehicles are also provided for community groups and members for outings such as educational visits, lunch clubs, shopping trips etc. The pricing structure for the vehicle hire reflects people’s ability to pay and is designed to be as accessible as possible for the local community.
The scheme has developed over the years and now also offers a range of driver training packages (e.g. Minibus Driver Awareness Scheme) for community members. With funding from the local authority’s road safety fund, Adapt also offer a ‘Safer Driving for Life’ course for older people who have lost their confidence in driving.
A strong focus of the scheme is to make sure that the vehicles in the transport scheme are used for a range of additional services, other than home to school runs. For example, during the heavy snow in late 2010, the scheme ran a shopping-delivery service for people who were unable to get out to shops. The scheme received the Community Transport Association’s Best Rural Community Transport Award in 2010.
- For more information on the Adapt (North East) community transport scheme click here.
- A broader perspective on community transport can be found on the Community Transport Association website here.
11. SETTING UP A COMMUNITY RADIO STATION
Lionheart Radio, Alnwick
Lionheart Radio is a community radio station, broadcasting on 107.3FM from the heart of Alnwick to much of North Northumberland. It was awarded a community license by OFCOM in 2005 and is now a Community interest Company. Lionheart is a community venture with several objectives:
- To provide the local community (Alnwick and surrounding towns and villages) with its own radio station - dedicated to providing entertainment & services to the community
- To enable the local community to share information and experiences through other forms of media as well as radio – for example video, and web pages
- To provide members of the local community with an opportunity to learn new skills and to participate in producing radio and media for the enjoyment and benefit of the community
Lionheart Radio’s ambition is to be recognised as vital and invaluable to the community – the first choice for finding out the latest on local news and events. The station has a small core team who run the venture and co-ordinate radio and media production, supported by volunteers from a broad cross-section of the community, presenting programmes, developing news items, recording local events and producing radio and video
12. COMMUNITIES TAKING OVER PUBLIC ASSETS AND SERVICES
Communities taking over public assets and services
The Government’s Big Society initiative places a strong emphasis on local communities taking over responsibility for running some buildings and local services that have hitherto been provided exclusively by the public sector. Some communities have been doing this sort of things for many years, but as public sector cuts begin to bite, opportunities for local communities are increasing, even if sources of funding are becoming more difficult to find.
Many Parish and Town Councils already own and manage a variety of public assets – play parks, sports fields, allotments, community gardens. They also provide some local services, such as grass-cutting and minor maintenance. Some have sponsored the setting up of development trusts or other types of social enterprise, to take on projects and raise funds which they – as public bodies – are unable to do.
Other communities, or individuals within communities, have set up social enterprises to deliver specific projects, with surpluses often ploughed back into the local community.
13. SOCIAL ENTERPRISES
Social enterprises are not-for-profit businesses with a social or environmental purpose. There are 62,000 of them in the UK, contributing over £24 billion to the economy, employing approximately 800,000 people (2005-2007 data from the Annual Survey of Small Business UK). There are around 30 social enterprises in Northumberland.
- The Northumberland VCS Consortium gives advice on how to get contracts for public sector work. The information on their site includes current news and issues, opportunities and useful resources. Further information available here.
- KnowHow NonProfit’s ‘How to’ guide on getting funding for a social enterprise. Further information available here.
- KnowHow NonProfit have guidance and information on setting up a social enterprise which includes an online training course (£8.99). Further information available here.
Other useful links and resources include:
- A Supplier’s Guide 'How to do Business with Northumberland County Council'. NCC also runs regular events to enhance your understanding of the procurement process. Further information available here.
- CC37 Charities and Public Service Delivery, Charities Commission Guidance. Further information available here.
- National Association for Voluntary and Community Action - Commissioning and procurement resources. Further information available here.
- NCVO – Before signing the dotted line: all you need to know about procuring public sector contracts. Further information available here.
- Locality have a Collaborate for Commissioning programme which offers a range of self-help and capacity building guides to enable you to tender for and deliver public services. Further information available here.
- Although Bassac have now merged with Development Trusts Association to form Locality, Bassac produced a Collaborate Resource Kit which is still accessible to communities. This Kit provides guidance on how small providers can thrive by developing collaborative approaches to tendering and delivering services between themselves and with larger organisations. It draws on learning from a collaborative project working with six partnerships demonstrating different collaborative approaches to bidding for Supporting People contracts. Further information available here.
- KnowHow NonProfit offer information and advice on commissioning and procurement. Further information available here.
Co-production is the production of public services through the contribution of
- Public Services Inside Out: Putting Co-Production into Practice (2010)
A report from the New Economics Foundation which includes examples of where this new approach to providing public services has been put into practice. Co-production is defined as ‘public services that rest on an equal and reciprocal relationship between professionals, people using services, their families and neighbours’. Further information available here.
15. SETTING UP A DEVELOPMENT TRUST
Development Trusts have come to particular prominence in the last few years, with the outcomes of the previous Government-sponsored, high profile Quirk review (Making Assets Work) urging strong support and the subsequent establishment of new public funding arrangements to promote community asset transfer.
More than 500 development trusts are already operating across the UK with assets of over £500 million, combined income of nearly £272m, of which over £100m is earned, and 5,000 staff, supported by over 15,000 volunteers.
19 of these development trusts are in Northumberland. The following towns and villages had development trusts up and running in 2011:
Allenheads; Alnwick; Amble; Ashington; Belford: Berwick upon Tweed; Craster: Glendale (Wooler); Greater Morpeth; Haltwhistle: Haydon Bridge; Hexham; Holy Island; Lynemouth; North Tyne and Redesdale; Prudhoe; Seahouses: Wark (Mid-Tyne): Widdrington (ATAC)
- Are set up as either limited liability companies or industrial and provident societies
- Can be charitable or non-charitable
- Have a key role in community asset ownership and management
- Also provide local services, often in partnership with public, voluntary or private sector organisations
- Have governing boards that often contain a mix of community and service representatives, often with the former in a majority
There is a case study of a Northumberland-based development trust on the Improving the physical surroundings of your area page of this part of the website.
16. SETTING UP A COMMUNITY LAND TRUST
Community Land Trusts are not-for-profit, community owned and run, bottom-up initiatives. They focus on land and genuinely affordable homes and can be Industrial and Provident Societies, co-ops or limited liability companies. A relatively small number are up and running so far, but they are currently enjoying a high national profile. You can find more information on community land trusts and a local example on the Meeting local community housing needs page of this part of the website.
17. SETTING UP A COMMUNITY INTEREST GROUP
Community Interest Companies (often known as CICs) are social enterprises set up for wide community benefit, but with no specific geographical focus. They are limited liability companies with what is known as a community asset lock – meaning their assets can only ever be used for community benefit. More than 4,700 are now up and running across the UK since new legislation was introduced in 2005.
- Three organisations are directly involved with social enterprise development and development trusts in Northumberland:
Social Enterprise Northumberland. Visit website.
The Federation of Northumberland Development Trusts. Visit website.
Case studies of social enterprises across the North East can be found here.
- Locality provides examples of development trusts that have successfully undertaken asset based development and asset transfer projects. Further information available here.
- If you are interested in forming a Community Interest Company, have a look at: http://www.cicregulator.gov.uk/
18. MEETING LOCAL COMMUNITY HOUSING NEEDS
Holy Island of Lindisfarne Community Development Trust
Like many rural areas Holy Island residents found themselves priced out of the local housing market as the island became an increasingly popular location for holiday homeowners. At their peak house prices were up to five times those on the nearby mainland.
The trust was formed in 1996 to address this issue. By 1999 it had developed five new energy-efficient houses let to local residents at affordable rents with all but one of the tenants working on the island. In 2002 two flats were converted for islanders, bringing the total of affordable properties to seven.
The trust was keen to build more homes for local people and with funding from the Homes and Communities Agency, the Tutor Trust and a bank loan the trust built a further four three-bedroom houses for affordable rent. The first residents moved into these new homes in January 2010.
The trust charges low rents which still generate a surplus/maintenance fund. All homes are built to high environmental and energy efficiency standards making them cheap to run.
- Information on Community Land Trusts can be found here.
- The Development Trusts Association (DTA) produced a useful publication in 2010 called ‘To Have and To Hold’. This is a practical toolkit, providing information, resources and contacts to use to develop a land or building project that is an asset for the local community. Although the DTA is now part of Locality and no longer has its independent website, the publication is still available on the Asset Transfer Unit site. Further information available here.
- ACRE provides case studies on rural communities developing affordable homes, published by Capacity Builders on behalf of Defra (Dept for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs). Further information available here.
- For information on funding rewards (called the New Homes Bonus) available to local communities that build their own local homes please click here.
19. PROJECTS WITH A GREEN/ENVIROMENTAL FOCUS
Northumberland’s communities are already involved in a wide range of green or environmental projects. Some of them are highlighted elsewhere on this website. You can find out about how to start up a green project yourself at the following links.
- Engaging with Local Communities Regarding Sustainable Development - a how-to guide to the legislation, policies and strategies for voluntary and community organisations trying to improve their environment or taking local action on big issues affecting the planet. Further information available here.
- Every Action Counts – a programme aimed at engaging national and local voluntary and community sector organisations to work and improve the environment and deliver sustainable development:
- What happens when every action counts – inspirational examples of good practice from the third sector
- Your community building counts
- Changing the way we work – guide to greening your office
- Also from the Federation for Community Development Learning are a series of 14 taster session packs which explore how community groups can contribute to a more sustainable world.
As part of the Every Action Counts programme, the Sustainable Development Taster Session Packs have been produced, based on a series of workshops that were run. The sample training material can be used with community group members, activists, people working in the community and community development workers.
Four three-hour taster session packs have been designed for members of community groups. These cover the main areas of sustainable development policy and explore how groups can contribute to a more sustainable world. Further information available here.
- KnowHow NonProfit also have a ‘How to’ guide on how to green your office. Further information available here.
- The Shared Energy Toolkit helps community organisations to raise awareness of climate change and plan for different possible future scenarios. Further information available here.
- Groundwork North East can provide advice and support to community groups interested in environmental projects. Further information available here.
- The Forestry Commission has developed a toolbox for community involvement in forest and woodland planning. Further information available here.
- The Northumberland Renewable Energy Group has produced an excellent guide for communities interested in renewable energy projects. The guide contains a number of successful case studies in the County as well as advice on the process and how to avoid the pitfalls. It is available from Hugh.Clear-Hill@northumberland.gov.uk
- Community Action Northumberland has information on renewable energy projects in the County. Further information available here.
- To read about successful community, cooperative and municipal renewable energy projects across Europe, Further information available here.
- KnowHow NonProfit offer a ‘How to’ guide on creating a green action plan. Further information available here.
20. COMMUNITY BROADBAND
Community-led solutions to no or inadequate broadband provision by mainstream providers are usually focussed on establishing a wireless network where the service becomes cheaper the more subscribers there are. Some of the more remote rural areas of Northumberland do not have access to broadband. The Rural Broadband Partnership and other organisations can advise. Community broadband can and often is led by rural parish councils.
21. TURNING COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT INTO ACTION
This Guide is really all about turning community empowerment into action in the County. Northumberland Council’s Corporate Medium Term Strategy, ‘Stronger Together: leading Northumberland to a greater future’, May 2010 states:
‘The ultimate aim for our community engagement is to reach a point where local
communities understand, influence and lead their own place. The Council’s role
should therefore be moving more to being around facilitating local democracy
and decision making, resolving conflict and giving support to local communities to
help them build and shape their local identity’.
If you want to know more about the background to community empowerment and how it is being turned into reality, the following links will help.
- Community development: stronger communities, better services.
Northumberland Strategic Partnership Social Regeneration Consultants November 2010. Further information available here.
- Local Government Improvement and Development has a wealth of information on community empowerment, mainly from a local authority perspective. Further information available here.
- Community Development Foundation has a number of publications on community empowerment.
What is Community Empowerment? – a short guide to community empowerment with examples of empowerment in action. Further information available here.
Routes to Empowerment: Sharing good practice - a publication that pulls together case studies, impact reports and different approaches to community empowerment. Further information available here.
- Routes to Empowerment: A community sector perspective.
A research report demonstrating the breadth of community empowerment activity taking place within the community sector and highlighting a number of different routes to empowerment. Further information available here.
- Community Empowerment: Working together to achieve.
A case study report on a women’s community engagement network including its development, achievements, challenges and lessons they have learnt. Further information available here.
- Engagement and Empowerment in Rural Areas.
Case study report on how rural area planning processes and district and town/village committees can support empowerment activities. Further information available here.