A neighbourhood hub

09 March 2016

Sarah Gorman, Project Director of the Local Conversation on the Old Fold and Nest Estates, Gateshead, looks at the significance of having a community space and what it means for the project going forward.

Recently, the Local Conversation on the Old Fold and Nest Estates celebrated an exciting milestone with the opening of their new neighbourhood hub, Pattinson House.

Pattinson House was officially opened by the Mayor of Gateshead, Councillor Alex Geddes, and the event was attended by around 150 people, most of whom were local residents.

“I was delighted that so many people could come and join us because it was quite a momentous day for us.

“When the Local Conversation on the Old Fold and Nest Estates first started to build momentum, one of the most talked about issues was the need for a community space. Residents wanted somewhere to meet regularly and socialise – giving them an opportunity to build relationships, offer peer support and extend networks within the community.

“This project has been two-and-a-half years in the making, from when we first heard about the possibility of working with People’s Health Trust to the launch of our new building - Pattinson House.

“In that time, a steering group has been set up. They were the driving force behind securing two disused buildings on the Nest estate that have stood empty for the last eight years. For a long time lots of people have been saying that these buildings should be some kind of community facility and now local people have made that happen.

“The hub is an absolute transformation from what it was when we first moved in. In one of the buildings there was no electricity, lots of flies and other horrible things. Now, pretty much all that is left of those two old buildings is the bricks. We’ve put in new wiring, new heating, new plastering, new ceilings, you name it, to create something for the community which is really exciting.

“This project is about local people coming together to make things different. To make the estates a happier, healthier and friendlier place for people to live. In a sense, Pattinson House is a picture of that – of what can be accomplished when people work together.

“Already lots of local people are involved. Everyone in the community is welcome to use the building and to take part in what’s happening. Without the local people, Pattinson House is nothing. Creating the hub has been achieved and now it’s time for everyone; children, parents, grandparents, to start coming in, using the facility, developing it and making it the real success that it can be.

“One of our volunteers, Diane, has lived on the Nest estate for 44 years and has been involved in the project from the early days.  When I asked her about what she thought when she first came into the building to now, she said:

‘I just can’t believe the difference, it’s amazing. Before it was rotten; you were scared to come in the door. I can’t believe how different it is to what it was, it’s lovely and everyone has done a really good job.

‘It’s something for the community – for the adults and for the kids. There hasn’t been anything down here for a long time; no shops, parks, nothing and now we have this.’

“Pattinson House will be used to help deliver local priorities identified by residents including: delivering community-based advice sessions on family life, providing activities for children and young people and offering employment and enterprise opportunities and skills for local people.

“To help provide employment and enterprise opportunities, the hub incorporates a community bakery that will help people learn new skills and produce home-baked artisan bread.

“Residents who previously didn’t socialise with each other are working together are developing a shared vision for their community and taking local action to address issues which matter to them.

“It’s not often you get an opportunity like this. We are really grateful to People’s Health Trust not just for the funding, but also for their attitude towards the funding – to be so flexible and supportive of what it is that local people want to do which is an amazing thing.”

Read more about the Local Conversation on the Old Fold and Nest estates here.

See more photos from the event here

Read more posts from the People's Health Trust blog here

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