Memorandum by West Pennine Housing Association
I am currently managing an SRB 6 part funded
"capacity building", project in the Hollinwood ward
of Oldham. The project is co-financed through the European Regional
Development Fund and is scheduled to run for three years from
1 January 2002 until 31 December 2004.
The Hollinwood Capacity Building Project is
designed to involve and empower local communities by raising their
confidence and awareness as individual citizens and as part of
a civic society. It is, simply put, a way of effecting local solutions
to local problems.
Any regeneration initiative will succeed only
if it has the support of the local community. To gain this support
it is essential to undertake capacity building activities in order
to enthuse local champions capable of "cascading" information
to the community. Luckily I delivered a smaller scale version
of the current programme in 1999-2000. This concentrated on a
smaller area within the ward, a pocket of deprivation within a
pocket of deprivation. This gave us the local champions, with
greater credibility among the community than I could ever hope
The project was designed in consultation with
the Hollinwood Voluntary Forum, a collection of all the tenant
and residents groups from within the area. This gave it local
support and grass roots ownership, a factor that influenced the
SRB panel in awarding the funding.
The ultimate aim of the project is to form a
community development trust; this will be a democratic and locally
owned charitable company with the ability to interact with service
providers as well as advocate on behalf of local people. It will
also be capable of accessing funding for training, support and
other appropriate measures for sustained improvement once the
SRB funding has ceased.
Groups have already visited existing development
trusts in the North West of England and are enthusiastic to start
planning the next stage of the project, setting up the "theme
groups" to address identified needs in their community. These
include a market garden linked to a healthy eating campaign, environmental
improvements by creating "pocket parks" and a cycle
way and a youth inclusion initiative.
The project has only been running for eight
months and we are about to have our first Away Day planning session
to discuss the way forward. Residents have invited attendees from
neighbouring wards (some with a high Asian background population
as opposed to Hollinwood's almost all white background) to see
how we can work together on joint projects for the future.
Despite the short period involved I feel that
this project will deliver permanent, resident-led regeneration.
The formula for success is not complex, involve the residents
in designing the project, set a good action plan and have a viable