Love Heaton Norris was formed in September 2014 by a group of local people from all walks of life (incl. residents, community workers, charities, faith leaders, employees, businesses and school governors). Our aim is to champion “all things Heaton Norris” and help make it an even better place to live, work and prosper.
Heaton Norris is a suburban area of Stockport and one of four Heaton’s in the area (the others being Heaton Chapel, Heaton Moor and Heaton Mersey). Although Heaton Norris was the original “Heaton” and as such steeped in history with an enviable heritage it has suffered years of neglect. Its strength is its people, best illustrated by many community champions who quietly work for the benefit of the others in the area.
Why we joined the First Steps Programme
It seemed ideal for us as we approach our one year anniversary as a community group we were in need of the training, support and guidance to take the early first steps in trying to meet our aims and objectives. Also it’s fair to say we have been “reactive” in the past and lacked the direction to successfully prepare a long term Community Action Plan and this programme gives us that very opportunity to be better prepared.
What are we looking to achieve?
Long term, improving the way we work as a group by learning from the Community Development Training, Leadership Training not to mention the guidance of our Relationship Manager and the invaluable feedback from networking with fellow groups from the programme. In the short term, to use the support and guidance offered to better prepare a Community Action Plan that both meets the needs of people in Heaton Norris and that we can successfully deliver in 2016
To accept the funding grant we had to sort out the issue of an incorporated local organisation who would hold the funds for us. Far from easy we eventually found a charity called Riding Stars NW who agreed to accept the funds on our behalf until our bank account was open. Having only just received news that our bank account is finally open we have now requested the transfer of the funds into our account accordingly.
Our relationship manager is Helen Garforth and our relationship is working really well together. Helen has already come to meet our team at one of our monthly public meetings. We have communicated well on many areas that I needed clarity on and Helen has either answered any queries or directed me to someone who could. Most recently after sending Helen our Blog we agreed that we will be meeting up quite soon for feedback on both our blog and more importantly the progress of our community action plan. Furthermore we agreed that as we were unable to attend Helen’s “Working Together” Training Course that Helen would do a summary session for us as a group and we are finalising details at present.
Apart from the Induction Day we have attended the first two training days in Manchester to date (“listening to your community” and “what is my community like”) followed by the CoCo Leadership Course “Community Organising Workshop”. We have found these highly informative and thought provoking and are in the process of providing feedback to the rest of our group before beginning a consultation process of the people of Heaton Norris.
What have we found difficult?
A fair few areas have been far from clear i.e. finding an incorporated local organisation that would hold the funds for us and exactly how this process would work.
Lack of clarity on the funding only to be used for the planning stage and not the delivery of the plan, furthermore having to be spent by February 2016. Furthermore uncertainty about whether there was any guidance in terms of funding/grants for the delivery of our project.
What has worked well?
Successes are firstly still being in the programme, as its fair to say we massively underestimated the time and work involved in the programme. Furthermore we are not only still in the programme but reaching a tipping point with our understanding of how big an impact this programme can have on us as a group in terms of both how we work but also critically, in meeting our aims and objectives. What we are proud of is that (after attending one of the recent leadership training courses) we had the crucial realisation that our original draft community action plan was created without any public consultation whatsoever and are now in the process of correcting that key oversight.Love Heaton Norris - First Steps Blog,