Accessible site   ::   Printer friendly   ::   Share this page
 
Coventry CEN [Picture of Coventry skyline]

Group Stories


Gosford Park Residents Association win £56,000 Jubilee People's Millions Lottery Funding

CEN member Gosford Park Residents’ Association, who held their third Big Lunch this year, have been campaigning hard to get a play area for young children in their area.  They applied to the Jubilee People’s Millions Lottery and have been successful in winning £56,000 for the GOSFORD PARK PLAY AREA.
 
The Gosford Park Residents’ Association would like to say a massive thank you for all the support and votes they received which has enabled them to get this funding.
 
They plan to start work on getting the play area built as soon as possible and will provide updates on their progress.
 
For more information click  here.

Excellence Academy/Coventry Back Boys Can Summer School returns for 2010

Coventry Black Boys Can / Excellence Academy is a community led organisation,  that aims to provide black boys, Caribbean, African, and of mixed heritage; between the ages of 8yrs to 16yrs with educational opportunity, valuable life skills, and the self-esteem, confidence and determination to succeed. All these qualities are essential if they are to overcome disadvantage and make the most of their formative and adult years. We work in partnership with other educational bodies to help the boys overcome some of the barriers which many of them face, and empower them with strategies for overcoming those barriers.
 
The main objective of the Summer School is to stimulate and develop the student’s literacy, numeracy, ICT and social skills. This is achieved by placing them in age defined classes, as well as workshops designed to foster positive contributions to their communities; all of which ultimately aid the development of social and co-operative skills. Summer School also enables students to explore other learning opportunities outside the curriculum in order to inspire and promote learning and achieving. The theme of the 2009 summer school was DIY - ‘Do It Yourself’. This gave the children and young people the opportunity to express themselves and think about their own lifestyles and attitudes, whilst also learning the importance of responsibility, sportsmanship and giving them a sense of pride.
 
This year the theme is ‘I Am Powerful’, and the aim is to get the children to draw power from their everyday interactions, by learning more about their culture and their environment. We have already begun to devise lessons plans which include    exercises such as creating a family tree and inventing an everyday household item. Again the children’s classes will be age specific, as follows:
 
·         5 - 7 years
·         8 – 11 years
·         12 plus
 
For Summer School sessions we invite boys and girls from all cultural backgrounds, and regularly have quite a large turnout. We also like to arrange a trip for the children, to allow them to unwind but still keep it educational. Last year the children visited Sandringham Castle.  This year the students will be going to Fantasy Island.

This year's Summer School was held from Monday 2nd August to Friday 6th August and Monday 9th to Friday 13th August, 9.00am - 3.00pm daily at Barrs Hill School and Community College, Radford Road, Coventry.

For more information please telephone 024 7655 1258. 

 


11 Million Takeover Day 2009

The National 11 Million Children and Young People Takeover Day took place on the 6th Nov 2009. 

The aim of 11 Million Takeover Day is to provide opportunities, for children and young people, to learn about and shape the services they use as well as participate more in community life.  Added benefits from previous years involvement with 11 Million Takeover Day have been:

  • adults, children and young people, all learning a great deal from each other
  • the opportunity of reversing negative perceptions of young people that are often portrayed in the media
  • highlighting the great contribution to society that children and young people make.
  • kick-starting organisations in their pledge to involve service users in more meaningful ways in the future development of their services.

Services and organisations got involved in a variety of ways, and in previous years activities have included:

  • Young people acting as roaming reporters for the Coventry Telegraph
  • Children reading the news on local radio
  • Young people supporting Neighbourhood Wardens and the Police on community walkabouts
  • Launch, led by children and young people, of the anti-bullying strategy

                                                                                                and many more............   

Community and voluntary organisations were also encouraged to get involved, all ideas welcomed.

If you would like to know more please contact:

Sheila Bates, Children's Champion, Children and Young People's Strategic Partnership, Coventry City Council, SS17, Civic Centre 1, Earl Street, Coventry, CV1 5RS

Telephone: 024 7683 1432

Email: sheila.bates@coventry.gov.uk

 * 11 Million, formerly the office of the Children's Commissioner for England , support the 11 million children and young people in England to have their voices heard.   The Children's Commissioner for England was established under The Children Act 2004 to be the independent voice of children and young people and to champion their interests and bring their concerns and views to the national arena.  

 


Eat Your ART Out ...

People of Coventry make giant food sculpture of city and Eat It

On 5th September 2009 BBC Coventry and Warwickshire, Arts Council West Midlands and Coventry City Council collaborated on a unique gastronomic and artistic project "Eat Your ART Out" and produced an edible food sculpture of Coventry city.


Community groups from across the city met at Coventry's Lower Precinct Shopping Centre to create a large outdoor sculpture made from assorted foods that represented their vision of 21st century Coventry.  The people of the city were then invited to feast on the culinary creation and discover the true taste of Coventry.

The six community groups involved in the project are:

  • Green Garden Café who worked on a theme of peace and reconciliation using fair-trade vegan produce.

  • Coventry Rugby Club Fans who reflected the many different sports clubs in the city with an obvious focus on the groups' passion for Coventry Rugby Club.

  • Nettica, Coventry Youth Service worked on the theme of Industry.

  • BBC Listeners Group called Black Boys Can who chose to reflect Whittle Arches and the green spaces in their sculpture.

  • The Godiva Sisters represented Lady Godiva, Coventry's most famous icon using mostly chocolate.

  • Healthy Hearts Group from Wood End Family Project and Grapevine's H Team and Healthy Buddies who decided to focus on famous people from Coventry and represented through food Clive Owen, Pete Waterman, Marion Devonish, The Specials, Frank Whittle and Mo Molam.


 

 

 

 

All the groups worked for eight weeks with specialist food artist Prudence Emma Staite experimenting with various food produce and choosing six different themes that they felt embodied their city.

For more images from the day and the creations - please visit Tim Burke’s gallery - click  here

Siobhan Harrison, Creative Project Manager, BBC Coventry and Warwickshire commented:

"This has been an incredibly exciting project because it brings together totally different community groups. It has been fascinating to watch how each group's experience of life in Coventry has informed the themes they had chosen to represent. 

Food is a shared human experience and this project was all about a shared vision of the city that everyone, regardless of age, race or gender could relate to. "

Aileen Muir, Arts Council's Head of Broadcasting says:

"Eat Your Art Out is one of many Made In England regional arts projects developed with the BBC.  Each one is taking a unique look at what it is about England that inspires people's creativity. We're very excited to be using the arts to encourage people to reflect on our customs and identity.

 

 

11 Million Takeover Day Returns!

The second national 11 Million Takeover Day took place on 7th November 2008 to coincide with the climax of the National Youth Work Week 2008.  Local authorities, communities, businesses, charities, schools and the media were all encouraged to invite children and young people to takeover their organisations for one day.  For more details click below

Speakeasy 22 11 million day.pdf (562.6kB)

Community Culture Group (CCG)  - Employment Engagement Job Fair


Stoke Community Culture Group (SCCG), who have recently changed their name to Community Culture Group (CCG) have been commissioned by the Equalities and Human Rights Commission to highlight equality of opportunity through employment, training and education.  In order to undertake this, we have planned to arrange up to twelve Engagement Days throughout the year. 

The main project outcome focuses on increased employment among people from  different groups, particularly BME, and the chance to meet and learn about each other. We have invited partners and employers to attend with their vacancies and resources, to showcase their organisation and also bring recruitment, vacancy and training information.

The first two Employment Job Fairs were held at St Peters, Hillfields in August and City College in September.  Both were successful, with the September event attracting over 300 people.  Some of the many employers and partners that attended were: West Midlands Police, Walkers, Travel West Midlands, Coventry City Council, Recruitment  Network and Working Links.

Further events are being held on 14th October at Henley College, 14th November, again at City College, and 28th November at City College, Swanswell Centre.  All are open from 12noon-4pm and will host more employers who will again be able to promote new vacancies, assess people on the day and even recruit suitable candidates. For further details contact:  culturegrp@gmail.com or telephone: 07824 663320

Local cheerleaders triumph again!

Coventry is particularly blessed with a number of good quality cheerleading squads, whose members range from as young as 4 years old, going up into their 20’s.  We even have a brilliant squad of cheerleading mums in the north of the city.

One of our local teams is known as Cov Squad.  Cov Squad is made up of members from all over the city and has been in existence for just over four years.  They have recently won the British Cheerleading Championships for the third year running and will be representing England in America at a huge international cheerleading competition next March.

The competition at the British Championships in Telford during July was very strong, but the team’s determination saw them through.  They put in many hours training each week and will be working hard to make both Coventry and the country proud of their achievements in America next year.

As a mum whose children are involved with the sport, I never cease to be impressed by children and young people work together, learning new skills and delivering breathtaking performances.  Cov Squad attends up to five competitions a year travelling around the country.  At each one the atmosphere is amazing; friendships are made between teams which becomes evident through noisy support for each performance.

I feel cheerleading is definitely a sport that brings people together and I would recommend it to Gordon Brown and his colleagues as an excellent way of building community cohesion.

Finally, I would like to say Good Luck to Cov Squad and all the other Coventry teams for the coming season.

Also, many thanks to  Squeeze Photography for the photographs of Cov Squad in action.

How GREEN are we...!


Fifty four top tips for saving energy and resources, encouraging green travel and  ethical shopping, and caring for our local  areas were shared with community  organisations who attended the “Greening your community group/building” training day at the Ricoh Arena Community Space in Coventry on 17th July.

A discussion on climate change, the opportunity to develop an environmentally sustainable action plan and look at how this can be used when  seeking funding were also included on the day’s agenda. 

The event, held by Community Matters, was part of the Every Action Counts programme, which supports voluntary and community organisations in protecting and improving our environment. Many groups are already taking  steps to make their activities “greener” and many  others would like to do more to benefit their group, community, and the environment.  Small actions can soon add up to make a positive difference. 

Business in the Community representatives gave a presentation on how groups can link with free   professional services. This was followed with an update from the Development Trusts Association on current funding initiatives, asset transfer and the empowerment white paper “Communities in Control: real people, real power” published on 9th July 2008 by the  Department of Communities and Local Government

For more information about Community Matters visit:  www.communitymatters.org.uk

Allesley Walled Garden...

a “Growing” resource for the whole community


Allesley Park Walled Garden Group (APWGG) was set up 1999 by community volunteers whose aim was to restore the 18th century kitchen garden in Allesley Park to how it might have looked when first built in 1786.

The garden is a place where adults and children can learn skills that are in danger of being lost: preserving old varieties of fruit and vegetables, growing food without chemicals, using herbs and flowers from the garden in simple delicious recipes, or in household products you don’t have to buy from the supermarket.

APWGG has to raise all its own funds and in the summer we hold Garden Markets, selling our “heritage” vegetables, home-made jams and cakes, honey, plants and craft  goods.  We have produced two popular booklets and given dozens of talks and guided tours to groups in Coventry and beyond.  

We eagerly await the Council’s go-ahead for us to  restore the rest of the garden.   Also included will  be a building to run many more school visits, workshops and activities than can be held in gazebos as at present—not easy over the past two wet summers!


Our current “Healthy Eating, Healthy Living” project, supported by National Lottery “Awards for All”, focuses on recipes, tasters and encouraging all ages, including children, to cook.  We are producing a new recipe booklet, holding horticulture workshops for adults and will soon be starting beginners gardening courses for families and new allotment holders.  Our city-wide project welcomes new volunteer members of all ages.

For more information contact Maureen Harris (Secretary) on 024 7654 3814, or visit the last   Garden Market of 2008 on Saturday 18th October.

Since 2000, when Coventry Council gave the group permission to start a full restoration, we have welcomed thousands of visitors to the Garden,  especially for Heritage Weekends which feature quizzes, displays, sales and activities for all ages.

We run school curriculum (primary and secondary) and family holiday  activities, and workshops for adults on topics such as jam-making, vegetarian food and horticulture.

NVQ horticulture students use the garden for training and we have welcomed university students, council employees, asylum seekers, special needs groups and business employees on volunteering days.

'Open - try it out' day on Daimler Green, Radford


Daimler Green Community Recreation Trust have taken ownership of a newly completed community centre on the former Jaguar Daimler site in Radford.

Kuldeep Dhami, Chair of the Trust & the local residents association, said, 'The centre looks great sitting alongside a sports field that has already been used by residents for over 2 years. The new facilities include a sports hall, changing rooms & showers, function room suitable for business or community meetings and children’s parties, a floodlit and a multi-use outside games area for tennis, 5 –aside football, netball etc. Alongside the centre building is a new young children’s play area.'

'This will be a double celebration as only last week we were granted charitable status.'

To show case the facilities the Trust have been working with partners to plan a fun packed 'open – try it out' day on Sunday Aug 3rd 12-4pm. Details of the open day event and facilities are on our calendar and also on their web site.

The plans include: tennis & football coaching on the courts, and martial arts & dancing displays in the sports hall. There will be a display of vehicles in the car park connected with motor manufacturing on the former Jaguar/Daimler plant. On the sports field there will be a marquee with music to be provided by local bands, opportunities to join in with tag rugby, football skills organised by Coventry Jaguar Youth Clubs, circus acts, bouncy castle & slide, young children’s activity marquee & BBQ. We also have a special appearance by the Kombat Breakers and Mini-Kombat Breakers. In the function room there will be catering and a historical display of motor manufacturing connected to the former Jaguar/Daimler plant. 

The opening event (2.30pm) will be attended by the Lord Mayor & Lady Mayoress and Patron of the Trust, Martyn Hollingsworth, Director, Jaguar Land Rover.

Bell Green Matters!


‘We want to make Bell Green the best place to live’, say Theresa Davies and Janet Leadbeater. Theresa helps run Bell Green Community Centre, and together with members of the local Methodist church and Bell Green Tenants and Residents Association (BATRA), which Janet chairs, they are part of ‘Bell Green Matters’. This group meet monthly as part of the ‘Your Neighbourhood Matters’ project running in six areas of Coventry. Together they want to improve the environment of Bell Green, run a programme of events, and provide activities for young people.

As well as discussing issues of concern such as eyesores, repairs, paving slabs and disabled access to the local shops, the group also go on a walkabout every month. Police officers, councillors, people from Whitefriars and City Services all come along, and community members are able to discuss with them what can be done about issues they spot as they walk. The group feel this is having an effect because they are able to talk directly to the right people. As Theresa says, ‘its hard for them to say ‘no’ when they can see an issue in front of them. And they can’t argue about who’s remit it is!’ ‘We do feel they are starting to listen and a lot of things are getting done’, says Janet. ‘But there’s still lots and lots that needs doing!’

Working together has really helped the groups in the Bell Green area. ‘We have learnt about what people want to do’ says Dave Denny of BATRA. They are working on a series of events, such as a summer fayre, bulb-planting, international day and Christmas parties.  They would like to encourage local people in the area who care about Bell Green to join the group.  For more information contact Penny Wilkin on 7678 5910 or email penny.wilkin@coventry.gov.uk. 

Revitalising Holbrook Lane



Shopping Centre Improvements Update:

The  Liveability project to improve part of the Holbrook  Lane shopping  area, which we have previously featured in Speakeasy, is now nearly complete. It is already being used by residents as a place to sit and relax when walking to the shops or meeting friends.

The community information board has still to be installed having unfortunately faced considerable delays with the manufacturer, but will be installed by the contractor, Blakedown Landscapes as soon as it is ready. Additional bamboo will now be planted in September, due to the planting season and greater availability of such plants in the Autumn.

The project followed consultation with residents and business owners, and included

  • a new resin-bonded surface to replace concrete flags
  • trees
  • an information board
  • seats, bins & cycle racks
  • new bollards. 

A separate project to install new shop signs will follow in the near future. Both projects have arisen following requests from local people and all those involved in the projects development hope that they will significantly improved the area.

  

Award for patient involvement

Patients at Mansfield Medical Centre have joined a ‘Patient Panel’ to discuss issues which affect them with the Practice Manager and a doctor. The panel also work to make visits to the doctor better and the surroundings more pleasant. The surgery has just won an award for involvement from the Royal College of General Practitioners. Sue Line, Vice Chair of the panel, tells us more.

We discuss issues which have been raised by patients, or which have an effect on them. We also look at the results of the National Patient Survey for our surgery. When this is done we look at what action needs to be taken and where we can best influence any changes needed. We have also been busy helping create a small children’s area at the surgery and making other improvements. We still have a way to go.

We heard of the prestigious award, sponsored by the Doctor Magazine, from the newsletter of the National Association of Patient Participation which we are affiliated to. Submissions had to be made saying how a grant of up to £3,000 would be used for patient participation within the GP Practice. 

The £3,000 we won will give us the opportunity to offer patients the ‘Self Care for You’ course which enables people to acquire skills in, amongst other issues, confidence building, recognising stress and ways to deal with it, healthy eating, exercise and its benefits. Three panel members have been trained as tutors to lead the 6 week course, which starts by getting people to understand or recognise what their own health beliefs are. It goes on to look at becoming actively involved in your own self care, including interaction with health professionals. Some elements are similar to the Expert Patient Programme which some people may have heard of, however if you do have a long term condition there is no reason not to attend both courses.

It’s very exciting as this is the first time to our knowledge this course will have been run in Coventry. ‘Being selected from a large number of what we understand to be very high quality submissions is a tremendous honour.  We do value the close working that has been built up with the Mansfield Medical Centre Patient Panel,’ says Dr Jill O’Hagan, a GP at the practice.

Coventry’s Answer to the Zimmers!

At a meeting of the Older People’s Partnership in 2007, Kathy Hunt suggested for the ‘Older People’s Week’ that they form an over sixties community singing group along the lines of the world famous ‘Zimmers’.

Subsequently Bob Brolly from BBC Coventry & Warwickshire radio became involved and as part of Older People’s Week in October 2007 the group sang a Beatle’s number (‘I wanna hold your hand’), first in the Central Hall and then as part of a charity concert in aid of Children in Need at the Ricoh Arena. This was part of a live broadcast on BBC local radio and on the same programme as Daniel O’Donnell, Mary Black and Blake. There was an enthusiastic audience of two and a half thousand at the arena and the group were well received. Afterwards a number of the group expressed a wish to carry on and rehearsals are currently starting on a wide range of songs from the 1920s to the present day. 

Anyone interested or with a query please ring Kathy on 07725 846584.

The Battle for the Old Age Pension

2008 marks the centenary of the introduction of the state pension. Chris Smith, of the Coventry branch of West Midlands Pensioners Convention, looks back on how this momentous change was achieved.
Before the introduction of the first Old Age Pension in 1908, people who were no longer able to work depended upon charity to survive. For those on low factory wages it was impossible to put anything aside for their old age. Industrialisation had uprooted the rural population and family stability suffered, leaving thousands of old people without any support. Their last resort was the workhouse.

Modelled on the prison system, discipline was rigid and breaking rules could lead to increased working hours, reduced diets or solitary confinement. By 1891, England had 1.3million paupers, of which the over 60s accounted for 31%. The workhouse had become the state’s way of ‘caring’ for the elderly.

On 13 December 1898, Rev Francis Herbert Stead, a Christian Socialist from Tyneside, convened a meeting in Southwark at which Charles Booth, the Victorian social reformer and anti-poverty campaigner, was the main speaker. It was an historic occasion which initiated a nationwide campaign. Further conferences were held in other major cities, involving thousands of trade unionists. Following these public meetings, in May 1899 the National Pensions Committee called a campaign for universal non-contributory old age pensions at 65. In the next decade the campaign secured hundreds of thousands of signatures for its petitions, and persuaded Parliament to hold inquiries into the viability of introducing a pension. Finally, on 1 August 1908, the Old Age Pensions Act became law.

The pension pioneers secured a non-contributory pension of five shillings (25p) a week for men and women at 70, subject to a means-test. It wasn’t a complete victory, but they recognised the tremendous social advance that had been made by getting the government to acknowledge that it had a role to provide for those in old age. The pioneers also saw this as a first instalment towards a better pension in future - something which today’s ongoing campaign also seeks to achieve.

“The Coventry Branch of the West Midlands Pensioners Convention acknowledges the effort and historical impact of our forefathers and mothers in obtaining the initial State pension in 1908. We continue the fight to improve the existing state pension, especially for women who were misguided into accepting the reduced national insurance stamp and now suffer the ignominy of surviving on a mere £34 per week. We invite all today’s and tomorrows pensioners to join us in our efforts.”

Strictly Tea Dancing

On Monday afternoons in Stoke Aldermoor, the sounds of the Sweetheart Waltz, the Cowboy Stomp, the Conway Charlston and the Sindy Swing can be heard reverberating across Coventry. Members of the Stoke Aldermoor Residents’ Association invited us down for the afternoon to witness the success of the Stoke Aldermoor Tea Dance ... and even join in!

Congratulations to the Tea Dancers for receiving the Heart of England grant. Thank you to Liam and all his dancers for hosting such a welcoming afternoon, and to Neighbourhood Management for the original inspiration for the class.If initiatives of this kind were to take root all over Coventry, it seems we’d be a happier and healthier city.

Churches Together with Refugees

“Life in Iraq was very difficult for Osman; little food, no school and always soldiers fighting and firing guns. So Osman’s father decided that it was safer to leave the country and come to Britain. They came to Coventry and Osman started school, but many of the children did not want to be friends with Osman. Why? Then Peter saw him standing alone in the playground and went over to him.  In no time they were talking about the sort of things that little boys talk about. Peter discovered that Osman was just like him, except that he had left his country and become a refugee. They became great friends.”

Children in primary schools across Coventry will soon be learning about the issues faced by asylum seekers and refugees like Osman from this story, thanks to an innovative idea from Churches Together with Refugees in Coventry (CTRIC). This extract is from lesson 1 of a schools’ pack which they have put together, called the “Gift of the Stranger”. The lessons start with 5 and 6 year olds and progress to 11 year olds. As well as a CD-Rom containing 5 lessons, the pack also contains a music CD and a ready-made visual aid.

The inspiration for the project came from Sister Brenda Brennan who volunteered to do some awareness education work after returning from South Africa, and developed the materials.

John Tonkin, a retired head teacher and lay worker with the Methodist Church, also helped with the project by putting the materials onto CD-Rom. ‘It was the first time I’d ever done something like this – I learnt a lot!’ The project has taken 18 month and involved a variety of volunteers who helped put the packs together. This included making the visual aid and sourcing coloured feathers for it.

The pack is currently aimed at Catholic primary schools, but is being adapted for other church schools. In the future it may be possible to produce a non-religious version, as well as one for secondary schools. The pack, costing £5, has proved popular so far, with 15 already sold.  To order a pack, please contact John Tonkin on 024 7668 6115.  

Coventry Cheerleading Success!

Coventry young people involved in two cheerleading groups, Cov Squad and Kosmic Kittens, recently came together for an international competition and won several trophies. Ellen Bates tells us how they did it.

Hello, my name is Ellen, I am 11yrs old and proud to say I am a cheerleader. I have been cheerleading since I was 5yrs old but this year was the first year I competed at an international competition. Cheerleaders from all over this country and from as far away as Canada descended on Telford in July. For three days thirty girls represented Coventry in a variety of categories aimed at testing dance and gymnastic skills.

The team practised hard for weeks in preparation for the competition but not only did we have to practice we also needed to raise enough money in order to go. We had entry fees to pay, costumes to buy and travel costs to find. Parents and girls worked together to raise money via raffles etc but the main part was got through applying for funding. The girls got together and wrote a funding application. We explained who we were and why we needed funding. The funding body got in touch with us, asked some questions and then told us we could have the money. 

Once we got to the competition we had a great time, made lots of new friends and came home with a handful of trophies as well as an invitation to compete in America.  However the work doesn't stop there; our funders need a report about the way we spent the funding and if we are going to keep Coventry on the cheerleading map there are more competitions to get ready for.  Ellen Bates

From Willenhall to China

Coventry sixth-former Earl Allen was inspired by the sense of community in our twin city, Jinan, on his recent trip to China. Earl (on right), who was recently elected the Youth Activities Coordinator for the Willenhall Tenants & Residents Association, took part in the student exchange which has been running between the cities since 1998.

‘China’s historical pride is “par excellence” and their sense of community is something to be proud of,’ says Earl. ‘I recall one evening during my visit where the whole community congregated outside a playing area. I was in awe of how young and old mixed, played, talked and laughed together. I would love to see this in Coventry, a place that I have learnt to love.’

‘China was amazing! No words could truly express how much I am thankful for the opportunity. I am thankful to all of those who afforded me this wonderful experience that I will never forget.’

Revitalising Holbrook Lane

Coventry is one of only 27 places in the country to be chosen by the Government to receive extra money for a ‘Liveability Programme’. June Jeffrey, of Holbrooks Ricoh Arena Residents Association, explains how some of the money is being used.

‘Liveability’ is a term used to describe the qualities that people look for in an environment they use on a day to day basis and includes streets, parks and other public places. The scheme tests new ways of improving neighbourhoods by funding projects designed to make them cleaner, safer and greener, with the involvement of local people who want to improve the places where they live. In Spring 2005, community organisations and individuals were invited to put forward schemes for improvements to their local areas through Coventry City Council's Liveability Programme.

Residents in Holbrooks had been concerned for some time about the effect that the Tesco Extra Store on the Arena Retail Park would have on the Holbrook Lane Local Centre. The main element of the centre is a large supermarket, alongside a post office, pharmacy, building society branch which acts as a bank (the nearest bank being a car or bus journey away) and a number of other retail outlets, including the parade of shops, 305-317 Holbrook Lane. Many residents in the area walk to the shops and the local centre is also seen as an important community focus which needs to be retained. 

Members of Holbrooks Ricoh Arena Residents Association submitted a proposal for improvements to the large forecourt of the parade of shops, 305-317 Holbrook Lane.  This area has been neglected for many years and it was felt the proposal would help revitalise the whole of the local centre. Both residents and business owners were delighted when funding was awarded for the proposal.

Coventry City Council commissioned Spacescape Architecture to consider landscape improvements, and following consultation with residents and business owners, designs have now been agreed based on the suggestions made. These include new paving, seating, trees, planting, a community notice board which will be managed by local residents, litter bins and improvements to the shop canopies.

Contractors for the improvement scheme are currently being appointed and it is hoped we can all soon look forward to seeing a new smarter section to our local centre.

Blue Sky in Willenhall?

Willenhall is one of the latest areas in the city to experience a joint agency operation aimed at making it a safer, cleaner and greener place to live and work. These initiatives aim to involve the community and especially local community groups. But do community members feel it has been positive for the area?

Operation Blue Sky includes the police, council, fire service, Whitefriars and community groups amongst many others in high profile, high visibility ‘crackdowns’ over several dates across the area. It aims to tackle issues raised by residents including anti-social behaviour, crime and environmental matters such as fly-tipping. The first day included a community litter pick involving children from the local nursery and people from Willenhall Education and Employment Centre (Weetc), among others.

Katrina Scott, vicar of St John the Divine in Willenhall (right, with local resident Rosanne) got involved with the litter pick because she felt it was important that the community should feel some kind of ownership of the day.

What impact did the days have on the local area?

It’s difficult to know what impact this initiative has had for sure, but I would say that the days have had a positive impact. A great deal of work was done on the days by agencies and individuals. There was a highly visible presence, and things were done that in many cases have needed doing for some time and have been the focus of resident complaints. For example, a piece of grass that hadn't been cut for ages was actually done.

How could these initiatives be improved?

There could have been better communication and wider involvement in planning. It might have been good to do longer term planning about where we want to make a good impact, for example, putting on some positive activities for children and older people.

How could the community be more involved?

There is a tension between keeping the dates secret (for the biggest impact on anti-social behaviour) and getting local people involved. A way of managing this might be gauging more community ideas at the outset - asking ‘what would you like us to do on these days?’, rather than guessing, or just doing what the agencies should be doing anyway.

New community facility in the Radford area



The Daimler Green Community Recreation Trust was delighted with the news that the building of a community hall plus outdoor sports and play facilities has commenced. The Trust, that has been set up to manage and develop the facilities, can now begin work with the local community to develop a wide range of activities and opportunities.

Commenting on the news the chair of the Trust, Kuldeep Dhami said, 'This is fantastic news. Our grateful thanks to everyone that has been involved with the project; it has taken a long time to reach this position but I am confident that the facilities will be real asset for all to enjoy. The sports field is already being well used by the community and in between formal usage it’s great to see it being used regularly by local residents & children'. 'I believe this is the first time that a section 106 agreement of this scale and purpose has been used anywhere in the country with an investment of well over £ 1 million taking place.'

'In my dual role as Chair of Daimler Green Residents Association (DGRA) we have over the years kept the Daimler Green residents informed of progress via the monthly DGRA newsletter and meetings. A priority now will be to spread the good news over a larger area leading to a “try it out” / open day being planned for later this year'.   

Award for Patient Involvement


Patients at Mansfield Medical Centre have joined a ‘Patient Panel’ to discuss issues which affect them with the Practice Manager and a doctor. The panel also work to make visits to the doctor better and the surroundings more pleasant. The surgery has just won an award for involvement from the Royal College of General Practitioners.

'We discuss issues which have been raised by patients, or which have an effect on them' says Sue Line, Vice Chair of the panel . 'We also look at the results of the National Patient Survey for our surgery. When this is done we look at what action needs to be taken and where we can best influence any changes needed. We have also been busy helping create a small children’s area at the surgery and making other improvements. We still have a way to go'.

The £3,000 we won will give us the opportunity to offer patients the ‘Self Care for You’ course which enables people to acquire skills in, amongst other issues, confidence building, recognising stress and ways to deal with it, healthy eating, exercise and its benefits.

It’s very exciting as this is the first time to our knowledge this course will have been run in Coventry. ‘Being selected from a large number of what we understand to be very high quality submissions is a tremendous honour.We do value the close working that has been built up with the Mansfield Medical Centre Patient Panel,’ says Dr Jill O’Hagan, a GP at the practice.  

Strictly Tea Dancing


On Monday afternoons in Stoke Aldermoor, the sounds of the Sweetheart Waltz, the Cowboy Stomp, the Conway Charlston and the Sindy Swing can be heard reverberating across Coventry. Members of the Stoke Aldermoor Residents’ Association invited us down for the afternoon to witness the success of the Stoke Aldermoor Tea Dance ... and even join in!


Stoke Aldermoor residents enjoy their Tea Dance every Monday afternoon

The class was originally created in conjunction with a nutritionist to get older people out of their homes. Since then it has gone from strength to strength, with over 20 attendees a week, each growing in confidence. Their dedication is illustrated by the  fact that the Residents’ Association’s Monday meeting has been moved to a Tuesday. It had been held on a Monday for 50 years and was moved only because it clashed with the Tea Dance.

Congratulations to the Tea Dancers for receiving the Heart of England grant. Thank you to Liam and all his dancers for hosting such a welcoming afternoon, and to Neighbourhood Management for the original inspiration for the class.  If initiatives of this kind were to take root all over Coventry, it seems we’d be a happier and healthier city.

Michelle Price from Neighbourhood Management said ‘I think the tea dance is a great way for local people to get out of their houses and socialise whilst participating in healthy activity. The response has been fantastic and local people love it - who knows, next year we may have to host Strictly Come Dancing in Stoke Aldermoor!’

Making Music in Chapelfields


Chapelfields Area Residents and Tenants Association (CARTA) believe being involved in their community should be fun! For the last five years they have organised a highly successful weekend of music across six of their local pubs.

The festival, organised mostly by CARTA member Keith Thomas, has attracted great local talent, and brought in visitors from all over the city. But its had the added benefit of strengthening the sense of local community and establishing relationships between residents and the pub landlords.

‘We wanted to be relevant to all the community and have a social side,’ explains Lynne Wilkins, chair of CARTA. ‘Now we have good relationships with the local landlords and we can ask for the music to be turned down if necessary! When the licensing laws were changed and pubs applied for longer opening hours, residents were concerned about the impact on them. We were able to organise meetings with the landlords, and provide a space for people to make comments.’

CARTA formed in 2001 when a group of local people joined together to try to prevent four historic watchmakers’ houses from being destroyed. Although the campaign was unsuccessful, the group continued. Chapelfields is a historic area of Coventry with a conservation status, which means CARTA is often involved in planning issues. ‘Although local people don't always agree on each issue, CARTA is a focus for community discussions and agreement.’

This year CARTA also organised a ‘pumpkin parade’ for Halloween. 40 local children in fancy dress, along with about 20 adults  visited several pubs in the area for trick or treat. ‘The pubs had been warned in advance and were ready with sweets (and a pint for the adults!) It’s a great way to get to know people that you wouldn't otherwise speak to. Twenty adults were there chatting to each other, breaking down barriers,’ says Lynne. ‘I know so many people in the area now that it feels like a real community.’

CARTA would welcome new members. The group meets on the second Wednesday of the month at 8pm in the foyer of St Mary Magdelene’s Church. The meetings are open to all local residents and traders. To find out more, join them at their next meeting, or visit www.carta.org.uk

 

 

© 2010 Coventry CEN