West Croydon Learning Site

In brief

· West Croydon was the first Learning Site in the UK to use Nurture Development’s emergent framework for community building.

· We have supported 3 ABCD efforts:

· I love Thornton Heath (2011)

· The Community Connectors Project (2013-14)

· The Family Project (2014 – present)

Here you will find a short clip of what the commissioner had to say about ‘I love Thornton Heath’

What we did together

· Recruited & trained 2 incredible Community Builders that work across 3 different sites:

· Selhurst

· Broad Green

· Thornton Heath

· Mentored the Community Builders as they progressed.

· Facilitated a monthly Community of Practice.

· Ran early events in each site to introduce the local community to ABCD.


· 77 Community Connectors discovered.

· 300 community members actively engaged in the process.

· 240 community and voluntary organisations actively connected to ABCD practices.

· 77 Community-led Projects initiated.

Some examples of community action in Croydon

Manor Farm Nature Space

In 2014 a team of students from the Norbury Manor Business and Enterprise College sought to clear the huge and regular amount of fly-tipping that blighted a green space in Manor Farm Road close to the school.

They argued that the constant fly tipping was a source of distress to local residents and pupils. Through identifying the correct council department and gaining the support of their local councilor the team managed to get a clear out of the rubbish which through the Council’s Parks Department was extended to a full deep clean.

The pupils believed that in order to stop the future tipping the green space needed to be better utilised and ‘owned’ by the local community as it would therefore not appear neglected and open to fly-tipping.

Through conversations with local people, associations and organisations a shared passion emerged to create a nature space on the land that schools and local residents could use for educational purposes.

Conversations identified a range of gifts and resources that could be offered toward making this vision become reality from local historians and green space experts to carpenters and teachers.

Through this community driven development the community is currently in the process of securing use of the space and the fly tipping has virtually disappeared!

Valley Park Healthy Living Space

From walkabouts on the estate, Community Builders met with Pam, a resident on the Valley Park estate.

Through conversations with neighbours in various ‘bumping spaces’ such as the GP surgery, local shops and schools, Pam identified that many people cared about:

· Opportunities for young and older people to meet and carry out activities together.

· Learning about food growing and healthy eating.

· Working with local services to support community activity.

Conversations identified a range of gifts residents wished to share to achieve their passion, including:

· Time.

· Gardening skills and knowledge.

· Access to equipment and training.

· Identified green space outside the Peppermint Centre.

The green space outside the Peppermint Centre belonged to the NHS. Following investigation by Community Builder and Pam, supported by the manager of the Acorn 2 Oaks project based at the Peppermint centre where the GP surgery is also based, both the council and NHS agreed that the green space could be used for an edible garden.

Residents secured a small amount of match funding to buy equipment and the services of a gardening tutor to complement the gifts offered by residents to develop the garden and the growing of food.

Over the next eight months a community led food growing initiative was developed mainly through the sharing of gifts and the skills of local people with the support of voluntary sector organisations.

The edible garden offers the opportunity for local residents to learn how to produce their own food, share healthy eating tips, overcome isolation and develop community cohesion.

In addition the project offers the opportunity for residents to:

· Learn about the health and economic benefits of growing and cooking with fresh produce.

· Directly participate in the project by growing their own food in the Edible Garden and in their own gardens if available.

· Gain opportunities to learn about the environmental benefits of cultivating and consuming.

Residents have also been talking with the GP surgery as to how patients who want to live a healthier lifestyle, eat more healthily and do more physical activity, including those with long term health conditions, can be referred. This will help many patients are experiencing mental health problems, including stress, depression and anxiety, low self – esteem and confidence and bereavement.

To extend the healthy living concept further, stakeholders led by residents and including those previously mentioned plus all three Housing Associations with properties on the estate are seeking to extend the site for healthy living to include the unused play space opposite across the road from the edible garden.

To date young people on the estate have discussed ideas of using the space as an exercise hub with static equipment and space for outdoor exercise classes. Stakeholders led by local residents aim to make funding applications for equipment and tutor hours that will be accessible to and maintained by all in the area.

The New Year will see the coming together of stakeholders as a Community of Practice to create the opportunity for commissioners and services to how they can identify real action to support the development of this community driven initiative.

Thornton Heath Arts Week

During June and July 2015 Thornton Heath shared two examples of the enduring qualities of ABCD with the welcome return of the annual Parade of Nations and the Thornton Heath Arts Week.

Long time connector Jonathan Bobamara led the Parade of Nations activity which brought together citizens to create a day of celebration and conversation that has had a far reaching impact into the daily life of Thornton Heath. Not least influencing the council to follow the communities lead and pay more attention to the Parades venue, Trumble Gardens, a previously unloved green space now fast becoming a well known gem.

Thornton Heath Arts week was developed by a number of connectors who wished to highlight the vast array of artistic talent in the area and promote their work creating employment opportunities along the way.

Last year’s event was so successful that many activities continued throughout the year. These included the Heath Collective made up of local artists and photographers who displayed their work at a major venue in Croydon, and the Well Versed poets who ran regular Open Mic sessions at the Rugby Club as well as running poetry workshops in three local schools.

Croydon poets.

Karen makes sure things are ready for Thornton Heath Arts Week.

Darren Randon is one of the founders of Well Versed, a community-led evening, Spoken Word, in South London with poetry and music.

Karen Barnett and Paul Macey share their thoughts on the power of connecting through conversations, and what happens when they focus on the assets of their communities.

So as with last year, here’s to watching wonderful shows, seeing exhibitions, taking part in radio interview workshops to be broadcast on Croydon Radio, listening to poetry and music, making art and watching films. All created by and for our fabulous talented community. Everyone’s commitment makes things happen and together look what we can do – again!

Report on our work: Croydon Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Pilot Project Report April 2014. Download here.

Which of our team members is in Croydon: Paul Macey and Jennine Bailey, Nurture Development Associates.

More info here.

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