Driving change in Biddulph

07 September 2017

Older people in Biddulph, Staffordshire are working together to reduce social isolation in their area, as part of their Local People project.

A steering group has been established by residents involved with the Local People project in Biddulph, supported by the Royal Voluntary Service. The group meets once a month and has been busy sharing ideas and planning a wide range of fun community activities from their Tall Oaks Ukulele group to days out in Stockport. The project is funded by People’s Health Trust, using money raised by HealthFair through The Health Lottery.

Ross Podyma, Community Engagement Worker from Royal Voluntary Service, who supports the Local People project in Biddulph, explained: “It’s not about putting on and delivering services to older people – it’s about giving them a chance to get together, talk about the things that matter to them, and supporting them to take action to address issues. It’s about gently building people’s skills, confidence and experience.

“When the steering group first came together, residents felt that there were not enough activities to bring older people together in the area.”

As the group was getting started, a local community centre was looking to set up a schedule of social activities.

Two members of the steering group volunteered to take on the responsibility of planning and running the activities at the centre, with the support of the steering group. The sessions are shaped by the ideas of the older members of the community who attend the activities.

Ross added: “Taking on the responsibilities of delivering regular social sessions has helped the steering group to realise their capabilities, and given them the confidence to go on and plan more activities. One of these was the Biddulph Older People Day, which was created and organised by three members of the steering group, with support from other members.

“They wanted a day to bring together some of the local services available to older residents, and to encourage even more residents to get involved in the Local People project. Planning, delivering and then evaluating the day has increased the group’s confidence that they can organise and deliver activities for local people, and make a difference to other members of the community.

“They have even created a Facebook page to spread the word about what they are doing and to promote upcoming events and activities.”

“They have also been visiting projects outside of their neighbourhoods to get ideas and inspiration. After seeing how another group campaigned to get the street seating in their area changed, they are now considering how they can go about achieving something similar in Biddulph.”

As people’s confidence and skills have developed they have begun to take on more control over the running and direction of the project, and their steering group meetings.

Ross said: “Transitioning power to the residents is a slow process and is working best for them when suggestions of taking on responsibility are put forward a little at a time, like taking turns to write the minutes or chair meetings. It’s about being supportive and encouraging, and moving slowly is the best way to transfer power and build collective control in a meaningful and enduring way.”


To connect with the Local People project in Biddulph on Facebook, click here.

To read about more great ideas funded by the Trust, click here.

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