Blackburn with Darwen Healthy Living

01 November 2018

“There’s a great sense of community in Higher Croft. Residents have always been committed to making a difference in their neighbourhood, and now they have the platform to do it.”

Through our engagement process, local priorities for the area started to emerge, which included trying to build a stronger community, creating opportunities for young people, and making the area feel safer.

We have a Local Conversations committee, and we also have a lot of sub-committees, including one for events, an environment group and a small grants panel. This way, people are involved in decision-making at every level.

We try to ensure that as many voices as possible are heard, and social media has played a big part in that – we post questions or suggestions on there and have sometimes had up to 1,500 comments.

“When I first volunteered I was very shy to the point where simple tasks such as answering a telephone seemed impossible. Now, I run the weekly arts and crafts sessions for local families, and attend and support all of our events. I am also a member of our Board and play an active role in decision making and planning for the Higher Croft area.”

Susan Seward, volunteer and Board member

There wasn’t a lot of youth provision in the community previously and one of the churches in the neighbourhood, St James’, told us we could use a space, which was unused. We worked with other organisations to refurbish it and create a youth base, supporting young people to gain qualifications and learn new skills.

As small changes happen in the community, the project is growing because people are hearing about the successes and want to get involved.

Through the project, we are starting to influence change with partnership working. Wherever we can, we work with other organisations and have built strong relationships.

A number of local councillors have given us their support because they believe in the difference the Local Conversations project can have to the community.

The biggest strength of the project is the flexibility and freedom it gives the community. They don’t want action plans handed to them – they know what works and because of the funding, have the flexibility to change plans as local needs evolve.”

Mohammed Khan, Community Development Officer

Blackburn with Darwen Healthy Living were awarded £107,000 in 2017-18 to support the Local Conversation in Higher Croft, with money raised through Health Lottery North West.

Through the Local Conversations programme, residents use their skills and wisdom to develop a shared vision for their community. Over a number of years, they take control of the design, development and delivery of local change. By ensuring that control is in the hands of residents, the programme works to address the underlying structural causes of health inequalities.

This case study was produced as part of People's Health Trust's 2018 Annual Review. To read it in full, click here.

To find out about more projects funded by the Trust, click here.

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