First Steps Blog: TAC over 50s Club

Care… Worth a Conversation

We are the Trafford African Caribbean over 50s Club (TAC).

Established in 1997, we meet one to three days a week (funding permitting) for a social over lunch.

Our ‘day’ has evolved from a luncheon club which includes weekly exercise (keep fit, Soca Aerobics, Chair Zumba), singing for fun, bingo, dominoes, and information exchange, to hosting health and social care seminars, and now we proudly add our new research hub.

Like any pensioner club our members come from all walks of life including:

Engineers, Cleaners, Nursing Sisters, Factory Packers, Soldiers, Dinner Ladies, Footballers, Cricketers, Police Officers, Homemakers, Management Consultants, Bus Drivers – to name but a few.

I often forget this wealth of knowledge and experience as I try (in vain) to tell them what to do. An example being my initial attempt to get their buy-in on this project.

A glimpse of our “preparations”……. I introduced the project with great excitement.

“We’ve got more funding” (that’s great news!)

“We are going to be setting up a Think Tank (ooh – that’s nice!)

“Our name is going to go National” ( well done!)

“We all need to get involved – this project could be really good for TAC” (vague nods around the room)

“You will be listened to for once” (Smiles of Irony/Disbelief…)

“Erm… now we will need a few volunteers for our first consultations. Who

would like to be involved?” (Initial silence, followed by: “Have you finished yet? Bingo’s running late!)

“Are you really telling me no one’s interested in joining the think tank? (We’ll get back to you later …..if anyone’s interested)

“It needs to be now as there is a very tight timeline”

(“Later …later….eyes down ladies and gents unless you want to be here all night….eyes down please everyone…)

“excuse me I’m not done yet” (… eyes down people. Eyes down!!!)

Moved on by our bingo caller I went away feeling a little demoralised. I mean – I had so far recruited only one person from the group (my mum)! Not deterred, I tried again with a different approach a couple of weeks later.

“I need your help – you know what these funders are like. You need to work for the money”

“Is anyone thinking of moving to sheltered home? “ (not at the moment)

“A housing project offering support to the elderly?” (no response)

“Does anyone here know anything about Community Care?“ (A few hands raised)

“Anyone getting support or care help from the Council?“ (similar number of hands raised)

“Is anyone of you a CARER? (“Oh God! We are all Carers!”)

We have a start.

The conversation we need begins. We have since held briefing meetings, mapped out some of our engagement plans, attended CDF Training and worked with our relationship manager in readiness and made contact with Care Providers in the Trafford area who are keen to be involved.

So with now over a hundred club members behind me we are embarking on establishing a Care Think Tank. Exploring the whole Care Agenda and then influencing this Agenda through our on the ground insight and engaging professional care sector on how we should be cared for. You can watch with interest as we progress to THE PLAN, however, joining the think tank is by our invitation….as we’re kinda full.

First Steps Blog: TAC over 50s Club

First Steps Blog: SEED Enterprises

Building a sense of sustainable community is a key objective of SEED Enterprises CIC, why not take a tour here

Utilising ‘The Wellbeing High Street’ concept, again why not take a tour here.

By delivering a combination of weekday in house training, building confidence and developing the ability to communicate with others, and then exposing individuals to the activities that exist within their local community on Saturday/Sunday, we’re covering a time where there is little service support and isolation is at its greatest.

Whitby Road was nominated as one of the worst 5 High Streets in England and here is a concept to develop an area for the future. Through the sense of community growing we endeavor to attract investment to entice social entrepreneurs to utilize shops and premises that have remained empty for years and have little chance of regeneration.

Our aim is to partner alongside national organisation’s and gain sponsorship to be a voice for the model that can be transplanted to similar areas.

We’ve already met Sarah, from Civic Voice, at SEED with Hayley, our consultant regeneration bid writer, to help her grasp the concept in action. We agreed to take up the opportunity to support Cheshire’s first Recovery event held on Sunday 6th September in Chester, beginning with a march and then an event in the park. We worked alongside 3rd Space, who would be demonstrating therapeutic art, to develop innovative ways of capturing data at the event and to help promote the event. This is a national organisation that seeks to give people in recovery hope and we could grasp their voice. We’ve attended the ‘Listening to your community’ and ‘What is your neighbourhood like’ and creative ways of capturing data was key for us at this event.

To date The Wellbeing High Street has been mentioned by the Lord Lieutenant of Cheshire at 2 opening events, the various council departments are aware of us, we’re being promoted by the local director of public health, mental health alliance, Plus Dane Housing, Ellesmere Port and Chester’s voluntary support organisations and other national charities including P3, Healthbox, Believe, Richmond Fellowship, Save the Family. We are awaiting an ‘Awards for all’ Lottery bid to run another pilot program.

We helped make the Recovery event a success by booking the Town Crier and getting unique Google photospheres of the march and park event that was attended by 350 people, why not see for yourselves,

3rd Space utilised volunteers to make a unique free Wellbeing gift that had a painted sentiment on a pebble that was given to those completing a questionnaire, a total of 50 were completed. The questionnaire itself was based on a previous event held on ‘The Wellbeing High Street’ that captured the needs of those in the area and that were already available.

Working alongside other organisations with a heart for the people and not politics and processes words for wellbeing. was amazing. Many people were touched by the words of the town crier,

Sarah said that we had an overwhelming success at capturing information.

Although it was hard to see people in recovery having to make a stance and be a voice, it was very humbling. It did, however, give hope to others that they can get better and we managed to capture what they would like to seen ‘The Wellbeing High Street’ that would help them on their journey.

First Steps Blog: SEED Enterprises

We believe it is essential that every place has a local plan.

Civic Voice gives a cautious welcome to the announcement that the Government intends to intervene in local authorities that have not produced local plans by 2017.  We believe it is essential that every place has a plan.

The Civic Voice response comes after the Prime Minister announced that he expects all councils to create and deliver local for new homes in their area by 2017 – or the government will ensure, in consultation with local people, those plans are produced for them. (

Delivering the homes we need is very important but that is not the only reason we need local plans.  Good local plans will make sure that the homes are where they should be, protecting local assets and countryside and meeting high design standards.  Local plans are essential in shaping the future of places, ensuring well-connected, walkable cities, towns and villages with great streets, squares and parks, making the most of our historic environments, and maintaining prosperous high streets.  A local plan should not just be a technical document but an expression of a place’s aspirations and identity. That is why Civic Voice’s manifesto, Localism for Real, called for place improvement strategies to join up local plans with strategies, for the public realm, transport, green space and heritage management.  The slow pace of plan production makes it difficult for local people to engage in the process. If this measure is the only way to ensure every place has a plan then we support it.

However, our support is not whole-hearted.  We are concerned that Government intervention, while fixing the immediate problem, does not deal with the causes.  Planning departments are woefully lacking in capacity, as bodies such as the British Property Federation, have pointed out.  The process of agreeing housing numbers is fraught with difficulties, the duty to co-operate is proving hard to implement and plans are being undermined by frequent legal challenges.  We would like to know how the Government proposes to tackle these systemic problems.

We would like to see the detail of how the Government will ‘work with local people’ to produce plans to be sure that there will be a genuine collaborative planning process rather than tokenistic consultation.   We also fear that faced with this sanction local authorities will be tempted to quickly cobble together local plans to meet the 2017 deadline without sufficient engagement with residents and businesses.

Government intervention may be a necessary evil, but more work is needed to get our local-plan-making process working effectively for people and places.

We believe it is essential that every place has a local plan.


Aldershot pubsWe were delighted to hear this week that Rushmoor Borough Council is leading the way by introducing planning guidance to help retain and better protect pubs within Aldershot and Farnborough. You can download the guidance here. This is a huge achievement for Aldershot Civic Society who are campaigning to prevent further loss of Aldershot’s pubs, which have such value to the community and are distinctive feature of the town.

We raise a glass to you Aldershot Civic Society, and hope you are celebrating with a well-deserved pint, or two!

In other Asset of Community Value news, Wandsworth Council plans to introduce Article 4 Directions to remove permitted development rights for 121 pubs across the borough. This will mean that the Council will have more control over development affecting pubs within Wandsworth and is part of the Council’s strategy to protect local pubs from the unwelcome threat of redevelopment. Sarah James, Civic Voice’s community rights expert, said, “It is fantastic to see Councils like Rushmoor and Wandsworth listening and responding to local concerns over the loss of valuable community facilities such as pubs, and being proactive in finding solutions. We hope this sets a precedent nationally and encourages the Government to improve the current legislation so that more community assets across the country are protected.”


England’s best new community nominated schemes announced

Design for Life! A blog from our Executive Director, Ian Harvey.

The Civic Voice team (including newcomers Ben Murray and Sarah James) descended on London today for the inaugural Civic Voice Design Awards ceremony. We were joined by individuals from across the country and representatives from Historic England, Bircham Dyson Bell, Heritage Lottery Fund, IHBC and other national bodies. We were really pleased to see so many civic societies represented in the room, too.

The Design Awards are a brand new national award celebrating the very best in British building design – with a very big twist, in that they’re the only awards of this kind where nominations are uniquely made and supported by local communities across the country. The idea for the awards came from Civic Voice members who voted this as a new initiative for Civic Voice at our Liverpool AGM in 2013.

Handing out the awards was our fantastic President, Griff Rhys Jones who said;

“What I really like about the Civic Voice Design Awards is that they have been nominated by local community organisations like civic societies, residents groups, town and parish councils and other community based voluntary organisations, rather than industry professionals. “

We’re all smiles here at Civic Voice and particularly proud that so many local communities and civic societies took the awards to their heart in the very first year and got behind such fantastic projects.  We are firm believers that communities are not NIMBYs and that when people have the chance to participate in shaping their area, people can make decisions that can surprise you. These awards are a clear case of Yes In My Back Yard. We will be telling MPs and Ministers this very strongly!!!

We were very fortunate to have a judging panel of industry leaders and were delighted when Civic Voice supporter, Max Farrell from award winning architect planners, Farrells agreed to Chair the awards. In an odd twist of fate, it was Max’s father, Sir Terry Farrell who spoke at the Civic Voice launch event in 2011. we now have Max Chairing the first ever Civic voice Design Awards…. We are very thankful to Farrells for all their support.

Max commented that “The number of entries submitted by community groups in this first year in itself is a remarkable indicator of the importance that communities attach to good design and shows they are prepared to celebrate quality design when they see it and say yes to development when they have had a chance to participate”. I agree completely.

So who were the winners? Finding themselves bound for success were our overall winners Gloucester Services Northbound. Nominated by Stroud Civic Society and Matson and Robinswood Residents Group, our panel of judges were unanimous in making them the winners of the New Buildings category, as well as awarding them the top gong for their outstanding, community led vision for the design of motorway service stations for the future.

Stepping up to take the winner’s award for the Public Realm category were The Harbour Steps, Margate, nominated by Margate Civic Society. The exceptional design of the sea defence scheme was found by the judges to be an exemplar for the rest of the country; a stunning, sea front landmark which proves you can turn functional into a feature!

Restoring our faith in the future of restoration was All Souls, Bolton, overall winner of the Restoration category. Nominated by the Churches Conservation Trust our judges felt this was a truly inspiring and innovative project which saw a run down and neglected Grade II* listed church in inner city Bolton transformed into a leading example of a modern multi-faith community space fit for the 21st century.

And a winning solution to flood prevention saw the judges award a special prize to the ‘Slowing the Flow’ project, nominated by Pickering and District Civic Society.

All the winners can be accessed here.

The winners can all be accessed in the new Design Award brochure that has been put together by Gill Roxborough, who has yet again produced another fantastic Civic Voice publication. You can download it here.

Lastly, all I want to say it well done to each of the schemes that can demonstrate that development is a good thing and I look forward to visiting some of the schemes in the near future. For the rest of you… start thinking about what to nominate next year.

England’s best new community nominated schemes announced


Culture Secretary announces £4m for local communities to explore the impact of the war as the nation marks one year until the centenary of the Battle of the Somme

The Secretary of State for Culture Media and Sport, John Whittingdale, announced the Heritage Lottery Fund’s (HLF) plans to make an additional £4million available in 2015/16 for communities looking to explore, conserve and share local heritage of the First World War.

The news was announced on board the HLF-funded London B-type ‘Battle Bus’ as he marked one year until the 100th anniversary of the Battle of the Somme.

Thanks to National Lottery funding, thousands of young people and communities throughout the UK have already been involved in activities marking the Centenary such as: researching and recording local heritage; conserving and finding out more about war memorials; and using digital technology to share the fascinating stories they uncover. This new money will help even more people get involved to explore a greater range of stories including those surrounding the Battle of the Somme.

Culture Minister John Whittingdale said: “I am very pleased that these funds will be allocated to communities across the UK, helping people to learn more about their local heritage and the First World War. We must never forget the sacrifices made by those at home and on the Western Front who served this country so bravely. These important projects will help us honour them.”

The £4m is available through HLF’s First World War: then and now programme which launched in 2013 and will run until 2019. It forms part of the Government’s Centenary programme and provides grants of £3,000 – £10,000 to local community projects.

The programme has been incredibly successful with more than 900 grants so far awarded totalling over £7million. Projects funded include:

The Empire needs men – Narrative Eye
Narrative Eye worked with local black and minority ethnic communities in Tottenham and Walthamstow, London to create an interactive world map that shows the diversity of the people who fought in the First World War. The project encouraged local people to discover how the countries they are from or have family links to participated in the conflict. As part of the project individuals researched their personal ancestry to see if any of their relatives fought in the war.

Yours Sincerely – North Tyneside Voluntary Organisations Development Agency
20 young people from North Tyneside explored how the First World War had a lasting impact on the lives of local residents and how it changed the roles in families. They explored personal stories of soldiers on the front line by collecting letters sent by them to loved ones back home. They composed replies inspired by what they learnt from the Discovery Museum’s Box of Delights World War One collection and from guest speakers from Remembering the Past Resourcing the Future (RPRF) and the Tynemouth World War One Commemoration project.

Women’s’ Work: Sharing the stories of the factory women – Women and Theatre
20 women aged 18-65 from Birmingham’s Small Heath explored the experiences of women working in factories during the First World War, including the local Small Arms (BSA) factory in Small Heath. Their research was shared through theatre performances, a touring exhibition and a digital archive.

Football and the First World War – Scottish Football Museum
This project conserved and made available to the public the archive of 16th Service Battalion, Royal Scots, who were more famously known as McCrae’s Battalion.

World War 1 In the Garw Valley – Garw Valley Heritage Association
Volunteers researched the effects of the First World war on the mining community of the Garw Valley. They looked into the lives of men who went to war, as well as the role of women played. Their findings were shared with the wider community through an exhibition and a booklet. They also gave talks to local children.

To find out how to apply for funding visit If a group needs a grant of more than £10,000 it can apply to HLF through its open