Community-led improvements

28 Jun 2019

The areas we live in can mean ‘home’ to us, just as much as the property we’re living in… and the people who know what’s best for a street, estate or public space are the people who use it every day: you!  Is there a space in your local community that could do with some love and care?  Could you plan to bring your estate together through an event? There could be some support out there for you to achieve your goal.

 

We spoke to a swapper who wanted to make an impact on her estate to improve it while she still lived there and also make it more attractive to potential swappers. She told us about what she did: “I applied for funding and sponsorship, then we got money awarded to the whole estate to make a garden space for kids and adults. These are some of the things I did while I lived there that helped make it a more attractive place for others, to find an exchange.”

Whether you’re dreaming of a new community garden, or a support skills scheme for local mums, there may be funding available to give you access to the resources to make it happen! With this support and your energy, you really could be making a huge difference.

Here’s a look at some of the options for getting the funding you need:

 

Crowdfunded regeneration

Crowdfunding is a way of raising money by asking a large number of people – usually using a website – for a small amount of money each. The totals can grow pretty big!

One site that operates across the UK is Spacehive. They are a crowdfunding platform for community-led projects. In 2018 20% of all UK councils had promised money to projects advertised on Spacehive.

Spacehive fund some extraordinary projects; in 2014 an artist successfully raised money to turn a Bristol high street into a massive water slide! Generally though, the projects are local residents trying to make small changes in their community, such as build gardens or provide skills training. For example, a group of residents from Islington in London are raising over £7,000 to put on the ‘Fortune Street Park Community Funday’ an event that has been held for the last 17 years to bring together local people and give them something to celebrate.

 

Housing Associations

Another way you could be a driving force behind improvements in your local community is by getting involved with your landlord.

The landlord, One Manchester has assembled a ‘Scrutiny Panel’ which is built from residents and members of the wider community – they believe that local skills can make a difference to their services. Some of the tasks involve community engagement and inspections. All roles are voluntary, but they offer expenses such as travel and childcare. One of the projects they support is a national event called ‘The Big Dig’, where local growers have taken over a previously out-of-use car park in Moss Side to grow food for the local community!

Getting in contact with your housing association could give you the platform to share your ideas or to help achieve the great ideas of others. Some housing providers also offer cash back schemes for those who put in the extra work. Nottingham City Homes offer a Responsible Tenant Reward, where residents are asked to meet a set of criteria, such as improving their garden in exchange for a gift of £100. When it’s given care and attention, any outdoor space improves the wider community.

Some housing associations give grants to resident-led projects, such as the Peabody organisation in London, which offers up to £30,000 to support projects that encourage the community to be ‘Healthy, Happy or Wealthy’!

 

DIY

And then there’s always the option to ‘Do It Yourself’! One option is to grow some wildflowers in the green spaces around you. Plenty of UK organisations give away free wildflower seed packs for you to plant to help encourage the bee population near you. Conservation group Tower Habitats offer free seed packs from three East London City Farms. A quick Internet search might help you find a similar scheme near you. 

Even if it’s a place that’s not right for you anymore, while you’re in it, love the community you’re in – give your best to make it better. Whether you have a wild dream for a fun scheme, or you want to make small, but important changes, there could be support out there to help you get the resources to make your community even better.