Edberts House

07 October 2020

Gateshead has some of the highest levels of disadvantage in England and faces issues such as people feeling isolated and apart from their community. People have often felt they had no voice on issues that matter to them and have felt unable to make any positive change.

Since 2015, residents on the Old Fold and Nest estates in Gateshead have been involved in a Local Conversation project, supported by local community organisation Edberts House. The local residents got together to identify priorities that matter to them, such as activities for young people, employability, health, and community cohesion. The project uses the two community hubs, Edberts House and Pattinson House, to bring the community together and begin to address these concerns.

Over the past year, the Local Conversation has been continuing their work to place control back into local residents’ hands. Local men at the Pattinson House site decided they wanted a space for themselves where they could come together to develop their cooking skills and take part in outdoor activities. Together, the residents created their own group to meet their own needs, and were so successful they are now working to expand the group into a bike garage for the local community, all without any staff support.

Residents on the estate talking over the fence at a safe distance

The Local Conversation is also completely led by residents through a steering committee which shapes the project and ensures local priorities and needs are addressed and keeps the control of the funding in local people’s hands and to meet the real needs of the local area. Most activities run through the project are led by local people, and due to the practise of controlling and shaping the project, now feel they can have more control over their personal situations.

As a result of the lockdown, the Local Conversation shifted its aims slightly and moved into a place of emergency response to the pandemic. They had to stop using the community centres but were still determined to keep the community spirit alive, and keep people supported. They leafletted residents, trying to reach people who might need support and invited them to get in touch. They also worked with the local school, preparing packed meals to distribute to families who may not have access to enough food.

"When we put local people in the lead, we start to see effective, sustainable change. Love, trust and relationships are improving health and wellbeing in our area – between local people and between the agencies that serve them.” Sarah Gorman, Chief Executive Officer

The Local Conversation in the Old Fold and Nest estates is supported by Edberts House and funded by the Trust using money raised by Health Lottery North East and Cumbria. Local Conversations enables people to have voice, control and influence over the things that matter to them locally. Over a number of years, residents are supported by a local anchor organisation to realise their long-term vision for the area. 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 2020  Annual Review, demonstrating how individual and collective control are critical foundations to  addressing some of the wider issues driving ill health. To read it in full, click here.


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