2010-2014 – Understanding the community’s needs
From the start this project has been about the people who live and work in our area. Residents and local organisations came together to become a steering group that sought to identify the community’s needs. An incredible amount of work, effort and passion went into creating our first three year plan – we consulted with residents, carried out research and engaged with local organisations, not to mention wrote draft after draft of the plan until we were all happy. However, there was no time to stop and admire what we had done as we launched straight in to year one of plan delivery. Read more on our first plan (2015 to 2018) here.
We decided to use the funds to help organisations deliver new, innovative projects that met the needs of our community with the aim to draw more money and support in to the area, turning the £1m into much much more.
2015 – Setting the foundations
It’s fair to say that time flew by. The steering group became a management committee that remained resident led. We’re proud that so much was accomplished behind the scenes; from developing our branding, website and social media presence to creating professional methods of practice and setting up the Big Fund process.
As we are a volunteer-led organisation we brought in help to assist us in getting started. Westfield Parish Council looked after our finances and Somer Valley FM led on our communications. Sarah Westell and Rob Wicke were (self)employed part-time to help deliver the plan.
2016 – Building on our strengths and prioritising projects
This was our second year of plan delivery, operating with a wealth of experience and a great core team. We developed strong partnerships with local residents, the councils and community organisations in order to deliver the following:
- Develop a local food strategy
- Develop a youth engagement and empowerment strategy
- Continue with the Big Fund – Funding Events and Small Maintenance Works
- Investigate options for social investment that brings returns
- Get people involved in Big Local and give them the skills to keep Big Local going
- Continue the Big Local Dragons’ Den event – so far 40 projects have been funded to benefit the community
2017 – Making good progress and planning for the next year:
In our third year we helped make positive changes:
- We got the local food-strategy ball rolling with a project in partnership with Radstock Town Council to create a community orchard – around thirty fruit trees have been planted. It will take a few years before they become good croppers, but we hope that the community will care for them and enjoy the welcoming space in the meantime. We then began the quest to find more partner organisations to will help us spread the orchard across the community.
- We worked with B&NES and Virgin Care to deliver Sugar Smart in our area, bringing in £2,000 for projects from the national campaign. We’re proud to say that our participation encouraged B&NES to make our area their flagship Sugar Smart community.
- Because of the support from the community for health-based skills-development projects, as well as the opportunity to make a good, sustainable investment, we started to develop a plan for a community training space where, amongst other possibilities, people can learn to cook tasty, healthy and affordable meals.
- We supported the organiser of a local mini-market, which launched at Round-about Radstock, to grow the idea in 2018 to bring more local shops, entrepreneurs and community organisations together for local people’s benefit.
- We have helped to set up and fund a regular youth panel with a devolved budget that young people can apply to. Youth Connect generously provided support. This is something we’re really pleased about because it gave young people a voice and an opportunity to make decisions about how to make Radstock and Westfield an even better place to live.
- Our 5th Dragons’ Den was a great success with over 100 local people present who voted for ten more community projects. It’s always a fun occasion and is becoming well know in the community (it even prompted a visit from our MP!), getting funds and support out to the projects than need and deserve it. Even the projects that don’t win are offered support to develop and improve their offer, this time two of them took us up on this and were subsequently able to secure some funding.
- We provided match-funding to Writhlington Hall who led a well supported campaign to reduce dangerous parking at school drop-off/pick-up. Our funds went towards a fully surfaced car-park that is used by parents/guardians, helping to keep cars off the busy road and junction.
- We contributed to the refurbishment of the Radstock Museum Clock Tower, which is now on time and chimes during sociable hours.
- We supported Radstock Town Council by consulting with local people to find out what outdoor exercise equipment they wanted in Springfield Park.
- We refreshed our knowledge of the area and resident’s needs, taking into account changes in the area such as population, Hope House moving and other aspects.
- The second plan was in development phase.
- We welcomed new faces on to the management committee including Rhea Morgan and Jo Hurst. The management is mainly local residents who care about how the money is used. They offer around 3 or more hours of their time a month to ensure our plan runs smoothly, projects are funded and that we are connecting with the community. If you’re interested in supporting the Big Local please have a look at the different things you can do.
2018/19/20/21 – Hard work, rewarded with a new plan, a CIC and a bigger, better partnership:
In 2018 there was plenty of hard graft behind the scenes as we set up a Community Interest Company to protect our assets, provide employment to our workers, insure ourselves and bring in more money and resources.
We also wrote our next plan, Plan 2! (late 2018 to late 2021)
It was endorsed by our funders (Local Trust) in late 2018, with a proviso that we can only access the community training and kitchen space funds should our business plan demonstrate need and value.
The beginning of the new plan was great because we were able to build community energy and support around it and increase our partnership numbers in the process. The Meet and Mingle in late November 2018 was our first celebration of this pivotal moment and was a chance to welcome interested people from the community, explain where we’re going and invite them to join us.
We are excited to say a good number of local people (over 20 members) joined the Partnership at (and just before) the Meet and Mingle event to help to guide and support the Plan!
Our Plan 2 focused on the following priorities:
Invest in health & well-being to improve quality of life
Poor health is an area of concern in our community especially obesity, diabetes and mental health, we believe by supporting projects that promote and enable healthy lifestyles we can make a positive impact.
The original aim was to provide funding towards a community kitchen and training space within the healthy living centre – but following work carried out by an independent consultant, there wasn’t an adequate case for making the space primarily a community training kitchen. However, extensive research demonstrated that there was a brilliant case for the space to be primarily for health and wellbeing courses/training (possibly with a small kitchen option). We subsequently worked with the Hope House GPs to identify a way forward. We are proud to say that there will be community-focused health and wellbeing activities going on in the space, most days, for the next 20 years!
The impact of this project will be a generational reduction in obesity and other health related issues and an increase in community engagement.
Invest in young people to become life, work & further education ready
This priority developed from consultations, local statistics and following on from Plan 1.
Residents identified the need to invest in our young people – with a focus on empowering them – the funds will provide a devolved budget and learning opportunities identified by the young people. Led by the recent youth consultation (Dec 2017) we continue to use the results and recommendations to inform the decisions we make regarding investing in youth provision.
Originally we expected to allocate £23k per year for the next three years. This changed due to a number of factors, including a reassessment of what could be achieved. Unfortunately there wasn’t an organisation that could provide the service we wanted – however, we did find one that could move us further towards the young people’s goals.
The goals include a successful anti-bulling strategy, an increase in what services are currently available and a re-evaluation of the young peoples needs and wants and the impact/improvement the funding has made.
We also reassessed how the devolved budget of £5k per year would be managed. We worked with Learn to Lead to pilot an engaging programme at Norton Hill School. Covid19 delayed the roll out of the next stage, with it finally starting early 2022. Learn to Lead are working hard with our young people to help them have their say on how and where money should be spent. More than that, they will help young people form interest groups and bring in resources that further these groups and develop their skills and confidence.
Invest in upskilling and support for people, organisations and facilities to increase resilience
This Priority originates from Plan 1. Over the duration of the first plan it became apparent that community groups face numerous challenges in order to continue and meet the changing needs of our communities.
We felt that some of the resources needed to be used in a way that provides groups with the opportunity to learn fundraising skills, develop business plans, identify and adapt to the opportunities and needs within the community.
Our Dragons’ Den events have been incredibly successful in bringing together the community to celebrate the creativity and motivation of our community to make good things happen here. We wanted this to continue for as long as it’s useful and so began work towards making our Dragons’ Den event sustainable – finding funding partners and volunteers to help run and promote it. Lockdown prevented us from running Dragons’ Dens in 2020 and 2021, but we were able to make small grants to a number of community groups across the patch.
The lockdown situation created by Covid19 resulted in a prompt response from the Partnership. We quickly set up a square hot meal service for those most adversely affected, who were struggling to get food and look after themselves. We also allocated funds to a family food parcel project and a baby supplies community group, as well as a support project for carers.
Invest and raise funds to enhance the Radstock & Westfield CIC offer to the community
The £1million from Local Trust is not enough to fully address the needs/problems we have decided to focus on and this priority shows our commitment to deliver the plan, develop sustainability to continue beyond the 10-year lottery project, build on our capacity and embrace long-term partnerships.
The delivery of Plan 2 was carried out by the community workers and/or volunteers in accordance with Local Trust aims as well as Companies House regulations.
We began to create a strategy to lever in outside funding, using our understanding of the needs of our community. We utilised match funding in order to ensure good things continue to happen in our area beyond the Local Trust investment.
Here are some of our achievements (up to 2021):
- Invested about £600,000 in over 100 projects, including funding local health and wellbeing initiatives, providing support for young people, improving community buildings and upskilling local organisations.
- Ensured more support was brought in from other places, to the value of around £635,000 – essentially doubling the money invested in the area!
- Gladly received support from many, many kind volunteers – more than 65 people have been involved over the years to offer their skills, community knowledge, support and advice for free!
- These amazing volunteers have contributed a combined total of over 14,000 hours of their time to make our Big Local programme work! If they were to have charged an average hourly wage, this would amount to over £163,000!
- Held 7 community-led Dragons’ Dens – these are special community events attended by over 100 local people each time. Together they decided what local project ideas should be funded.
- Had over 3000 resident responses to Big Local (+ project-related) community consultations!
- Enabled the new GP surgery to become a community health and wellbeing hub by investing in a training space that will be used to provide healthy-living sessions to residents, for at least the next 20 years!
- Our volunteers ran a hot food service for people in need during the lockdowns, delivering 800+ meals!
2022 PLAN 3 BEGINS
Our third and final investment plan started in February ’22. From consultation and research on community needs, we decided to continue with the same priorities as before – Access to Health and Wellbeing Opportunities for All; Access to Skills and Development for Children and Young People; Access to Resilience-building Opportunities for Individuals, Groups, Hubs and Spaces; Delivering the Plan & Building our Team and Legacy.
We aim to make a big investment that brings a financial return that ensures our sustainability going forward.
We will continue with our Dragons’ Dens, theming them around the environment, young people, and community resilience.
We aim to identify and invest in opportunities for developing green spaces.
We aim to build a strong organisation with a clear vision for making an impact in the Radstock and Westfield area.