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Organising and deciding Spaces and services

Unexpected partnerships

Is this the future of local services?

At a time when lots of community spaces are closing due to lack of funding, WestRaven Big Local in Peterborough have brought together a whole range of local people and partners to open a brand new community café that will host activities for the whole community.

Building the dream team

WestRaven Big Local discovered that local people wanted a place for their community to eat together, meet each other, grow and be inspired. So the Big Local volunteers spoke to lots of nearby organisations about creating a new community space. They brought on board a housing association, a prison, a school, the council’s youth team and a local environment charity.

As a result, the opening of the community space is set for September. The hub space will draw on the strengths and interests of everyone involved, to offer a domestic training kitchen, a café, a garden, a youth area and much more! Everyone is already busy preparing the space and a focused ‘week of action’ helped to kick start the project.

poster for WestRaven's community cafe

How all the partners are making it happen

  • Housing provider Cross Keys Homes (also the area’s locally trusted organisation) are the landlord of the building that will be used. They offered the building, organised the change of use, and gave support with tendering and finding suppliers.
  • HMP Peterborough (which is within the Big Local area) are providing prisoners released on temporary licence (ROTL) to undertake some of the internal alterations and building work in the café, and also to volunteer on creating the community garden. The prison Governor has offered to provide the first year’s rent of £10,000. ROTL prisoners will also work in the café when it opens.
  • The local primary school have granted Big Local long term use of some land they own in order for it to bcome a community garden near the new community space. They are encouraging parents to get involved and will use some of their pupil premium to pay for healthy breakfasts for pupils to be served in the community café.
  • Peterborough City Council’s ‘Youth in localities’ team have led youth involvement in the project, including running creative consultation workshops with young people and supporting young people to do a cleanup of the area and make a rap about aspirations for the area. When the new space opens, the team will run a youth café there 2 days per week and encourage young people to get involved in Big Local.
  • Peterborough Environment City Trust are taking on the lease of the space for 2 years, employing the café manager and supporting the development of a range of interesting and valuable projects that can happen in the café including energy saving initaitives, cooking projects and a bicycle-powered cinema!

Tips for success

Cath Robertson, chair WestRaven Big Local in Peterborough, told this fantastic story of collaboration at Sheffield Spring Event.

Cath’s advice for others interested in building partnerships like those in WestRaven was very simple!

  • Just ask! Be direct.
  • Look at what others’ agendas are to see if you can fit in with that. Cath said in their case, the school are really into healthy eating for example so they made sure they took that into account when suggesting how they could collaborate.
  • Be open minded about who you might be able to start a partnership with.
  • It helps to have a sense of humour!
  • Draw on relationships you already have. Cath explained she had been in the community a long time and that had been a real benefit in getting people involved.

What’s next?

The space will open in late summer, and once it’s open the possibilities are endless! They’re thinking about a meals on wheels scheme from the kitchen, and incorporating a Fair Share supermarket.

Keep up to date with what happens next by following WestRaven on Facebook or Twitter.

View slides from Cath’s presentation about the project