Category Archives: Community

Customer Committee Lynne: “How can you measure well-being with pen and paper?”

It was a completely different experience going to a Bolton at Home Percent for Art project at Highfield House in Farnworth.

As a long-time Bolton at Home Customer Inspector, I’ve been involved with checking the service that Percent for Art provides and found it incredibly difficult to quantify any results. That’s because we were trying to measure well-being and how can you do that with pen and paper?

What we experienced at the Highfield sheltered site, was a group of engaged and happy older people. They’ve been given the opportunity to express their thoughts and feelings in inventive ways and encouraged to express their latent artistic abilities in something other than crocheted squares! Continue reading

Customer Committee Lynne: “They were amazed …”

I recently had the chance to go to Darlington and meet with other scrutiny-type panels at an event called a ‘non-conference’. What a great idea. No speakers, just the opportunity to choose from a whole list of subjects and, in small groups, compare and compare methods and findings, thoughts and aspirations.

In my first group, we tackled the problem of difficult areas to scrutinise. Voids (empty properties), art projects and scrutiny itself, were suggested as problematic.

The second session raised how to ensure we report on ‘social value’ in each area scrutinised, which led to interesting discussions on how we interpret social value differently. Continue reading

“Empowerment … I always hated that word, until today!”

Empowerment, social action, having a voice, working and learning together, these are the buzz words that Community Development are founded upon. We have had countless meetings to discuss, try out or appraise evaluation tools.

Buzz Words

I kind of hate evaluating the impact of the work we do. I constantly battle with the fear of taking credit or ownership of the community’s efforts. And of course there’s the question of accuracy. Community Development  is not about the projects and the tangible outcomes, it’s about the conversations, the seeds you plant together that one day grow into a new way of thinking, an act of kindness or an act of rebellion.


How can you accurately pin point your interactions to demonstrate the difference it’s made. I’ll tell you when. When you announce your contract is up and you are leaving. I’m six weeks into an eight week exit strategy and facing a full on rebellion. Faced with the potential closure of the CPHouse- our women only centre, the rebellion began. Continue reading

What’s at Fusion for you?

Over the last two years, I’ve been supporting a number of community groups and resident associations in the Tonge area to turn an empty building into a fantastic hub for all aspects of the local community. It’s called the Fusion Centre, located in Connaught Square off Eldon St.

Empty building

Fusion Centre before


Fusion Centre after renovation

Fusion Centre after

The ‘after’ picture shows Tonge with Haulgh Community Choir performing Christmas songs outside Fusion and they’ll be back to sing “Let It Go” at the launch of Fusion’s Saturday morning Cinema Club. The song is from Frozen of course and this is the premier film, tomorrow (28 March), 10am – 1pm. A        child ticket is £2, including a goody bag and refreshments. Please book your places with the team at Fusion to avoid missing out.

The event will also see the unveiling of a new milk bar and internet café for young people. ‘The Cow Shed’ will be an American style diner area for school children to use after school for homework, socialising and chilling. Continue reading

“I blog to be listened to”

“Want cats’ milk in your tea?” MJ asks me in her distinctively southern accent. We burst out laughing.

Luckily she mean’s the lactose free variety in the fridge and not ladled from Pickle’s bowl.

Each armed with a cuppa, notepad and pen, we take to the settee draped with paw print covers.

I’m in MJ’s home to offer my help with a community newsletter that she’s volunteered to write. Only, I’m more fascinated by the writer herself. I’ve read her blog, MJ’s World. She says it’s her way to express what it’s like to live alone with clinical depression, fibromyalgia and other illnesses.

Somewhat selfishly, and blaming the lure of her blog, I want to know more. I’m awash with questions. Why publish your life? Was there a trigger for your illnesses? Continue reading