Penkside Community project
Multi-agency partnership, including Stafford Borough Council.
The Penkside Project was set up as a multi-agency partnership to address a range of socio-economic and environmental challenges in the Penkside (Silkmore, Rickerscote and Meadowcroft) area of Stafford. The early work in 2010 was led by four Task and Finish Groups, focusing on different priority areas: environmental improvements, conservation and carbon reduction; health and well-being; crime and perception of crime and; opportunities for employment.
The partnership had the following aims:
- To improve community engagement
- To make sure resources are used more effectively and deliver services the community want, need and will use
- To address inequalities
- To contribute towards a more sustainable community
As in many community based projects there are always challenges, namely time, money, local support, communications.
Meeting aims/Overcoming challenges
In terms of overcoming challenges, these were:
Time: Organisations, eg schools, are often busy so it is important to offer opportunities which are of benefit to the organisations, and also to be patient.
Funding: Seed funding or grant funding is important. We were able to tap into various pots of money and grants, which helped deliver projects such as PV installations and cycle parking and home energy audits. Without funding it is hard to make real progress.
Local contacts: Without local contacts and community support, projects will find it difficult to thrive, especially in the long term. Having people involved with a local interest is a major benefit, whether as volunteers or via funded posts, eg Community Co-ordinator post.
Communication: It is often hard to reach out the community and to engage widely. Various ways to do this have been used, eg poster displays on an empty shop window, talks to local groups or at church services or working through schools. A monthly community newsletter was started up and continues still (which is delivered to all houses in the area and is also on-line).
A valuable element in the success of the initiative was the efforts made to access grant funding by the Your Environment Group. The Group successfully bid for grant funding in excess of £75,000 for practical environmental and sustainability actions in the area, including:
- Home energy audits to help householders save money and energy.
- Energy audits in community buildings and local business premises.
- Two major public buildings in the community that benefit from this project:
- Silkmore Community Primary School
- At the end of 2011, 24 solar panels were installed onto the roof
- Funded largely by a grant from local organisation, Alstom
- Estimated that the panels, at a 6kWp will earn the school in excess of £1,000 a year
- St Peter’s Church
- Since July 2012, similar benefits have been reaped by St Peter’s church, where 28 solar panels have been installed on the main church roof
- Silkmore Community Primary School
In excess of £75,000 grant funding accessed.
100 energy audits completed. Full report from Beat the Cold of home energy visits and results is available to download.
In addition to the energy generated and money saved, Silkmore Community Primary School has started to engage with pupils about issues such as climate change, carbon emissions and greener lifestyles.
Through the project, emerged the Penkside Community Champions, a constituted, community focused and based group who continue to thrive, doing some great work in the area.
As well as energy related activities and benefits there were wider sustainability outcomes; these are summarised in the Penkside Achievements below.
These can be summarised as:
- Work with local people.
- Work closely with existing organisations.
- Enable practical and visible improvements.
- Show how agency input is making a real difference and is guided by local experience and knowledge.
- Ensure efforts are long term, or as long as needed.
This shows how good partnership working can kick-start lasting change within a local area. We also commend the efforts of Penkside Community Champions who are bringing educational, environmental and economic benefits to members of the community.
To view and/or obtain a copy of the presentations and resources from this project, please contact email@example.com.