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Organising and deciding

Celebrating CELL Big Local

As CELL Big Local becomes one of the first partnerships to fully invest their £1.1m, worker Clare McKay shares how they are celebrating this moment with their community.

How should we mark the end of seven years of hard work as CELL Big Local? That’s what we asked ourselves as we started wrapping up our work in time for closing in 2022. Although we’d  planned to close our partnership in July 2021, COVID lockdowns delayed the completion of key projects. This gave us more time to think about how to tell our Big Local story, including how we had spent the money and how the community had benefitted as a result. We all agreed, communication would be key.

We have always put communication at the forefront of our work and this wind-up phase is no different.  It’s really important that we are open about how the Big Local money has been spent, where it has gone, and the benefits brought to the area and its people. – Shirley Johnson, Chair of CELL Big Local

How are we planning to celebrate CELL Big Local?

With COVID hanging on, we settled on communicating our Big Local story via a series of small get-togethers. Here, residents could see what had been achieved and question (or moan) to their heart’s content. To keep things informal, we created a display of posters showcasing the projects CELL had supported. We also provided refreshments to encourage people to stay for a chat.  Whilst attendance wasn’t huge, we all agreed that a face-to-face opportunity for residents to interact with us was essential.

A1 posters celebrating the achievements of CELL Big Local

To spread some festive joy at an isolated time, we sponsored other organisations’ festive events and promoted them in our final edition of CELL Life: a newsletter that has been delivered to CELL homes, three times a year, since the project began. We wanted to give the sense that, whilst CELL had chosen not to do anything big, we supported people coming together in their own groups – something that’s been so important over the last 18 months.  

Final edition of CELL life, celebrating their Big Local legacy

Now that our public events are over, we’ll be focussing on collating information from all the individual projects supported by CELL between 2015 and 2022. From this, we will produce a detailed report that will be printed and delivered to all the homes in the CELL villages, as well as being shared with Local Trust. We’re also giving some thought to a small online archive, to host information for the next couple years.  

What’s next for our community?

Looking ahead, the CELL partnership had never planned to continue beyond Big Local. Instead, our Community Land Trust, ‘CELL Villages in Partnership’, will continue our legacy. They will carry forward our ethos, focusing specifically on improving housing and the street environments of our four villages. A great number of new or improved community assets will also outlive us. We are proud that they will be a visible reminder of CELL Big Local for years to come.

Many of our partnership members will continue to influence change as part of other groups or organisations. Therefore, we’re confident that the learning from Big Local involvement will continue to be an asset for many years. Ultimately, we’re proud that it feels as if the community now has greater aspirations. Plus, for some at least, the CELL villages feel like a community rather than four separate villages.

Clare McKay