It’s all about Community!!


Well so much has happened since my last blog I am struggling with where to start!! I have been working in the community of Speke since April and to be honest initially I did wonder how I was going to perform a community based prize challenge without being a part of the community…..well I now know.

Speke is without doubt one of the most welcoming communities I have ever been in, despite what the papers and press have to say about it even some of the locals. I can now walk around the area feeling like I will be welcomed and looked after where ever I go and more to the point that people care.

When approaching people initially about the challenge you could tell they were thinking ‘ what on earth is this women going on about’ or you may have had people thinking its ‘just another funding body trying to parachute into our community with false promises’. This has happened a lot in Speke and I don’t blame them for their apathy. But a bit of persistence and the ability to prove to them  that in actual fact we were there to help them and to build them into a sustainable community through supporting the brilliant work that is already taking place as well as supporting new innovative ideas and helping to build capacity in existing groups through them actually coming forward with their ideas and ways to ‘make Speke a better place to live’.

There are many different aspects to this challenge we are not only trying to get the community involved, we are also trying to get local businesses involved and actually get them to invest in the community whether that be through financial support, mentoring or even just actually paying an interest in whats happening in and around the area. This is proving to be a challenge in itself but there are organisations coming forward to offer support so this is a positive and something that our development team will continue with.

We are also trying to help build capacity in the groups that are already in existence in Speke by supporting them with sustainability plans, assisting them with funding applications (ensuring they know where to look, how to answer the questions….selling themselves properly, what sort of funds are suitable to their projects etc) as there are no support agencies in Speke that help with this such as a CVS most of the groups in the area have never been advised or supported through this process and so there is a lack of confidence around applying to funds. This is support is already showing an improvement in groups from Speke applying for funding which we are delighted with and it is a way of measuring some of the impact the Neighbourhood Challenge is having on the community of Speke.

We also had a visit recently from the team at NESTA which was brilliant, it really gave us a chance to show the AMAZING people we have met through our work in Speke and all of the brilliant groups that are involved in the challenge. Sadly the day went too quickly and we only managed to get to visit one of our projects much to the disappointment of the others but NESTA have promised they will come back and spend the full day in Speke so that’s something to look forward to. I am heading to Birmingham in a couple of weeks to do some more learning from NESTA and the other Neighbourhood challenges which I am really excited about as it give me the opportunity to see how other areas are tackling their challenges and the whole ‘sharing and learning’ from each others experiences is invaluable in a programme like this so I’m sure I will have lots to blog after that.


I   finally wanted to finish with a case study as this really struck a chord with how some of the younger generation in Speke actually feel. Kimberley Preston currently runs a drama group called Attitude Drama, she has been running the group voluntarily for 3 years and has got more than 30 children regularly attending.

Through the Neighbourhood Challenge Kimberley wants to expand her group enabling her to have a paid position so that she can commit 100% and make her life long career out of it. She is a well-educated young girl who has just completed university and is one step away from becoming a teacher, however teaching isn’t Kimberley’s passion, she wants to engage young people from her community through drama her opening statement is ‘At Attitude Drama School we offer disadvantaged communities the ultimate stage experience through the use of issue based theatre’ and true to her word Kimberley has delivered a number of successful performances throughout the community tackling issues such as raising awareness of Alzheimer’s and also the issues around loan sharks that are active in Speke. I went to visit Kimberley last week just for a catch up and to see what had been happening with her project and she seemed really down in the dumps and a little faint hearted.

Kimberley currently has no income and volunteers 4 nights per week both with her drama group and also helping with the youth association in Speke and I think it was all just getting on top of her, she wants this dream so badly and is willing to sacrifice her career as a teacher to get there. She was really upset and began to tell me about the apathy and lack of ambition of people her age in Speke and how difficult it is to be the one that is ‘different’ and try to make change happen. This was really sad to hear and it made me appreciate why so many young people in Speke don’t follow their hopes and dreams and why so many of them end up unemployed feeling that there is no way out. Kimberley is different and I believe that her project will work and could make a real impact on Speke’s youth, if only a couple of children attending her classes could gain the confidence to follow their ambitions, Speke will be on its way generational change.






One response to this post.

  1. Posted by cased on November 15, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    Thanks again for hosting us on a great visit! I hope that you’ll be able to tell me more about how the prize is going soon – I’m really curious to find out how things are going on the ground, particularly the projects we heard about at the community centre!


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