Through the Local People programme, residents in South Wigston and Eyres Monsel in Leicester are taking action resulting in a positive difference to their lives and community.
We talked to some of the local people involved in this TCV-supported Local People project about their recent achievements.
Eyres Monsell and South Wigston are adjacent communities with distinct identities, but local people here share the same priorities. For people to be better connected, particularly to reduce loneliness and isolation amongst older people and people experiencing mental health problems.
Katie in Eyres Monsell is a local mum of seven who has started a weekly babies and toddlers group in the local church. The Caterpillar Club is primarily a social space where parents, childminders and carers come down for a cup of tea whilst the children get involved playing with the toys that cover the floor. These toys need updating, so the next goal for the group is to acquire new toys that can better support early year’s development. The group has been so popular Katie is opening a second group in the New Year in Eyres Monsell Community Centre. This offers more exciting opportunities with additional play space and access to an outdoor area.
Residents Jules, Zoe and David have helped develop a community garden in Eyres Monsell. They were supported through the Local People project to develop an unused garden area at the back of the local primary school. The garden has gone from strength to strength and is now a TCV Green Gym, receiving additional funding to have a staff member supporting it to become a space for local people to connect and spend time outdoors, as well as producing fresh fruit and vegetables. There are also weekend family sessions and the project is working with the local GP surgery, which refers people with mental health problems to weekly adult sessions in the garden.
Jules is also involved with another garden project in South Wigston, where she lives. Twelve residents came together to turn a local piece of unused land into a community garden. After a year of discussion with the council, the lease was finally agreed in October. Jules said, “My confidence has grown so much since I started to get involved in the Local People project. I was so nervous to speak at the council meeting, but when I got there I realised I knew exactly what to say because gardening is my passion and I was talking about my neighbourhood.”
Elliott Hall was turned from an ex-needles factory into a community hub by local people after it had sat empty for ten years. It now has two large rooms, a kitchen and a Men’s Shed workshop, where weekly activities are run by the community. It is South Wigston’s only community centre. The Local People project has supported the hall since it opened, funding a youth group called STEP OUT and other social activities, such as Christmas lunches, a mental health support group (SWAMM), exercise classes and more.
Sarah Measures, Project Coordinator for the Local People project said “Two local people, Rob, and his wife, Ruth, manage the lease for the hall and were pivotal in transforming it into a community space with the support of local residents. Now, they are turning their attention to the barriers that people face in getting to the hall and thinking about transport solutions, as well as how to increase promotion so that more people know it's there. It’s fantastic to see how local people have gained power and control through the Local People Project, it’s all about community empowerment.”
The Local People project in Eyres Monsell and South Wigston is supported by TCV and funded by People’s Health Trust. The Local People programme is a People’s Health Trust initiative which involves supporting residents to develop a shared vision for their community and take action on the issues that matter most to local people.
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