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Map with markers showing where CCC projects took place across the country. The Portland Inn, in Stoke-on-Trent is in the north and highlighted with a pink marker.Stoke-on-Trent is one of the 20% most deprived districts in England with pockets of high deprivation.

The Portland Inn Project CIC is run from the heart of this residential area, home to a diverse community made up of predominantly working-class families, with a wide range of cultures. This includes people who have lived in the city for generations, as well as families that have recently moved to the area from all over the world, excited for opportunities to integrate and learn more about where they live.

Portland Inn Project is cited as an exemplar programme of people-led change in an under-represented part of Stoke-on-Trent, in a neighbourhood facing complex disadvantages.

Here, members of the Creative Civic Change programme, The Portland Inn Project share their experiences.

About the project

The Portland Inn Project is a creative arts project with an aim to achieve community cohesion, economic, social and cultural development by involving the community in the development of a pioneering community space, cultural hub and social enterprise.

Currently we work from the PIPPIN – a temporary space where we design and deliver a wide-ranging programme of activity. Founded by two artists, Anna Francis & Rebecca Davies, we operate in a residential area of Stoke-on-Trent, working in collaboration with other artists, arts organisations, designers, service providers and residents to improve our area. We advocate for people-led change, and champion the importance of art in leading that change, and in cooperation with public services.

These activities and workshops help to address health and wellbeing and increase confidence and aspirations in Hanley.”
Community development officer, Stoke-on-Trent City Council

How creativity changed our community

As a result of Creative Civic Change funding we have grown from a team of two, with a small group of volunteers, to a team of seven with a growing number of volunteers from the neighbourhood.

We installed and adapted a shipping container space which we run a regular programme from, including a weekly youth club, women’s group, social enterprise and summer programme. In addition to this, we run seasonal projects with leading artists and designers plus our skills development programme.

Our Community Decision Making panel grew in membership over the course of the project. Residents, partners and public services all contributed to the decisions made on our programme and the wider activity in the neighbourhood. This had a huge impact on safety and security in the area.

The Portland Inn Project has galvanised the local community, delivering cohesion, combating social isolation and providing skills training and enterprise opportunity. We are working with the community so that individuals can represent themselves and challenge the negative stigma this neighbourhood has been a victim of for decades.

Creative Civic Change funding has supported us to grow, be more ambitious and deliver a regular, sustained programme for all ages. It has encouraged us to think, plan and create a long-term vision for our community and organisation – The 100 Year Plan.

Life around here would be different if the project didn’t exist… If the Pippin wasn’t here, it would be so boring. ‘Cos the area itself was kind of dead and the conditions aren’t great. But now we have The Pippin we enjoy those days when there are activities. When we have the building – I will be influencing other kids to do what they want to do.”
Joseph, Portland Youth Club

Nana’s story

Nana Lyamgohn is a local mother-of-two who moved to the neighbourhood in 2018 after seeing a video about The Portland Inn Project online. She started to volunteer with us after her children joined the youth club. Through Creative Civic Change she took part in a community leadership mentoring programme and in 2021 she was awarded funding to run her own project Nana’s Kitchen as part of The Portland Inn Project.

Young and old convening to assist and enjoy my culinary creations gave me a boost in confidence….It has made me feel seen and valued as a part of the community.”
Nana Lyamgohn

The group prepared and cooked hearty, nutritious meals in cooperation with community members in a bid to address the food poverty felt by many families in the neighbourhood. Nana is now a non-executive director of the organisation and a valued member of the team.

Looking to the future

To mark the end of our three-year Creative Civic Change journey we were excited to work with illustrator Kidda Kinsey to visually communicate our neighbourhood and its vision through the eyes of young residents (and members of our youth club).

The resulting illustrated publication featured a comic strip in graphic novel format depicting young residents as the heroines of our story. They embark on an imaginative journey through time, considering the neighbourhood 100 years from now and returning to our present context to realise they are already making actions that will impact our streets in the future.

The storyline was conjured up through discussion and hands-on workshops that took place during our summer programme between Kidda and the young people. We will be launching 100 publications into the neighbourhood, shared amongst the collaborating young people, their families and beyond.

The Portland Inn Project is changing lives; it will continue to change lives for the better”
Jim Nixon, Stoke City Council

The Portland Inn Project’s 100 Year Plan is a direct legacy of our Creative Civic Change funding. As part of this plan, we consider the importance of long-term funding alongside the ambition and vision that fuel community-based organisations like ours. We also celebrate the power of creativity in a plan like ours – where the story of our neighbourhood can reach beyond the locale – to a worldwide audience.

Through this work we aim to have an impact on the policies that affect our everyday lives as well as the health and wellbeing of our communities.

Hear from local residents about the 100 Year Plan