Big Local ideas go international
Dutch philanthropic foundation visits Big Local areas in Manchester and Liverpool
The creativity and innovation of Big Local areas impressed our recent visitors from a Dutch philanthropic foundation.
By Mirjam Geerse and Sam Hartveld
We’re Sam and Mirjam, and at the beginning of March, we visited two Big Local areas to learn more about Big Local and the way they involve local communities in making a lasting positive difference in their own areas. We are interested to learn more about involving local communities because we work for a Rotterdam based philanthropic foundation ‘Stichting De Verre Bergen’ that is currently working on a method to support communities.
The areas we visited were Clubmoor in Liverpool and Collyhurst in Manchester and we were very impressed by the enthusiastic and organised partnerships we saw. We are very happy the areas took the time to show us around and tell us all about the process they’ve been through.
In Collyhurst we got the chance to tour one of the walking routes designed by the partnership, and everywhere along the path we could see activities and objects that the partnership initiated and created. It was especially interesting to hear more about the forest school that Clubmoor Big Local have supported in local primary schools, because Rotterdam is an urban area too and therefore children often do not experience much nature during their childhood.
In Clubmoor, we heard a lot about the activities the partnership organized. The way the area used a dog show to address the problem of dog poo in a positive way was very creative. The fashion show, with outfits made of garbage, was another example of a very positive way of addressing a problem, and the involvement and fun of the local community was very clear from the images and videos we saw.
Clubmoor also hold SOUP events - a way of finding and supporting new entrepreneurs through the simple means of getting the community together to eat soup and hear each other’s enterprise ideas. The story of Gordon, a local resident who was the winner of one of the SOUP events with his use of scrap wood to make furniture, was a real treat. While Gordon used the winnings from the soup event to buy a woodwork drill, the support did not stop there. Clubmoor Big Local continues to support Gordon and his business, Liverpool Pallet Designs, with skills training and grant funding. Gordon has now quit his previous job in healthcare to dedicate all of his time to his business.
We learned a lot from this trip and our visits to the areas, especially about the creativeness and innovations that can come from a local community, and how important it is to really give space and provide the areas with confidence that they are in charge of the spending. It was impressive to see how Big Local, as a funder, truly allows the local communities to be in charge. Last but not least we would like to thank both areas and Jeremy Yung (Local Trust) for hosting us and showing us around!