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Brighter Futures Together

Community cafe in Cowgate

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01. Summary

The All Together in Cowgate group has undertaken a number of activities through the toolkit.

The group has

  • Undertaken several litter-picks – environmental improvements for wildlife
  • Organised a nature café – with bird box making and nature walks
  • Created a community café to bring residents together
  • Increased use of the community building

02. Outline

The ATIC group were drawn towards several sections in the toolkit. Initially they decided to look at the ‘Encourage wildlife in your community’ factsheet, and following the advice, they

  • Linked up with Northumberland Wildlife Trust for advice and workshops
  • Linked up with Financial Inclusion Newcastle to look at the café becoming a social enterprise
  • Focused the group to look at environmental issues.

This work is in progress within the local area, and group were seeking to gain permission for use of land the group decided to use (Betty’s Field).

The ATIC group then decided to look at the ‘Sustain community buildings’ factsheet and the Active, Inclusive and Safe section in the toolkit. Following the advice, the group

  • Encouraged residents to work together towards a common goal providing opportunities for people to meet
  • Attracted new users to Cowgate Neighbourhood Centre (the building is currently poorly used by the community)
  • Used local publicity in newsletters and flyers
  • Attracted new volunteers to run the café
  • Improved efficiency and linked to Food Chain for their supplies
  • Shared equipment with the local youth group
  • Sought and put insurance in place.

The café has managed to sustain itself, and continues to open every Monday and Friday. The ATIC group are keen to focus on this aspect of the toolkit and to drive forward the development and use of the Neighbourhood Centre. The group were also very keen to introduce bees onto the estate, and to continue to drive forward the wildlife haven on the estate.

The activity undertaken by the ATIC group has delivered benefits to both individuals and the community as a whole.

  • Volunteering has increased through the introduction of the community café. Volunteering is important and popular in Cowgate as many of the individuals have a lot of time on their hands for a number of reasons (ex offenders, health issues, carers etc), and would struggle to get a job.
  • Those volunteering have undertaken training and development in areas such as cooking, food hygiene, undertaking risk assessments, safeguarding and so on, building valuable experience and skills for work in the future. Two members used their experience to get jobs

Other outcomes include increased confidence in those individuals volunteering, and increased profile in their community. Children and young people in the area see their family and friends volunteering and are inspired to make changes themselves, and increases the chances of them participating in their local area activities when they are older. There is a less likelihood of social isolation, through the introduction of volunteering opportunities and a community hub in the form of the community café.

The activity has brought people together in the community. It has also brought together older and younger generations, and ethnic minority communities with the indigenous community raising awareness of newer communities through community activities in food, arts and culture.

The local authority has benefited hugely from the activity undertaken by the ATIC group with the local neighbourhood and environment improved, a community building in full use and run by volunteers, and different communities and generations coming and working together. The group agreed to send representatives to the West North regeneration steering group and ward committee meetings, to find out what’s going on in local areas, raise concerns and feed into developments.

03. Costs & Funding

Funding of £700 was provided by the Regional Improvement and Efficiency Partnership (RIEP), and Newcastle City Council provided community development support.

04. Timescales

The All Together in Cowgate community group was approached by Newcastle City Council’s Engagement and Empowerment Service to pilot the Brighter Futures Together toolkit in March 2010, and the various activities taking place in the community are ongoing.

05. Lessons Learned

The small grant received from the RIEP helped the group begin their activity. The support provided by the community development worker dedicated to the Cowgate community was critical to the success of the activity.

The ATIC group, at the start of the project, were a new and inexperienced group of individuals coming together. In the early days, the focus was on learning how to manage themselves as a group, delegating tasks and so on. Over the year, the group took a lot on and should have undertaken the development and training first. They identified they would like to undertake management committee and community development training to further their own skills and development.

As a group, they are keen to get on to do things that benefit their community as they are passionate about Cowgate. The ATIC group looks strong to continue into the future.

06. Contacts

For further information about this project, please contact Karen Brown at Newcastle City Council.





Active, Inclusive and Safe