Hi Dan, good morning. Can you tell us a bit about who you are and what you do?
I can. My name is Dan Coyne, I'm one of the Communities Managers for Cheshire East Council. I am primarily responsible for what used to be Community Hubs but which is now Connected Communities Centres. I'll talk to you a little bit about what they are today, and where they will be and some of the timescales around that. I'm also responsible for involving communities in decision making in Cheshire East. Decisions aren't all made in Westfields, some decisions are made out in the communities. So, I can explain to you a bit about what we're doing around the communities around there.
Connected Communities, what are they?
Connected Community Centres are going to be a range of buildings in our key towns in Cheshire East, primarily in our most deprived areas. Cheshire East recognises we haven't got buildings in every estate, so it's about how we can work with building owners such as community libraries, churches, any centres that the local community deems good venues to have services delivered from. We've identified a number of areas across Cheshire East, there are 32 different areas we've recognised and they are very small footprints and each one of those areas will have a Connected Community Centre by spring 2018.
Is there any criteria these centres have to have to be chosen as a useful centre?
Yes. So, each area we have chosen, we have set up a local Neighbourhood Partnership in. Those Neighbourhood Partnerships are made up of any key stakeholders in that particular footprint, so local PCSO's, local members, local faith sector representatives, local providers, anybody that is key in that area, and local residents. And they decide which building in that locality is most appropriate to be a Connected Community Centre. What happens then, we approach that person that runs that venue and speak to them about what the criteria is, what the offer is from Cheshire East Council. The criteria is, they have to go through Cheshire East CVS GRIPP tool, which checks governance and ensures that the building is the most appropriate and that they have the right policies and procedures in place to house many different services.
In terms of what the offer is, if the organisation, or the people that run that building are willing to do the Cheshire East CVS GRIPP tool, then we will work with them and provide an offer where we will give the building £5,000 for two years. In return for that £5,000 they will give us five hours use of their venue per week.
And how far down the line are you, are most of those in embryonic stage or up and running or...
There'll be several sign off stages to get them all through. The first one was in July 2017 where we had five go through [see the end of the article for full details]. The next stage was at the end of October 2017 and another group will go through in February 2018. All of them will have an open day, which providers will be able to come along to and they will be arranged by the Neighbourhood Partnerships and will be very visible to local people.
The key stakeholders across the borough will be invited, in terms of providers, officers from a range of statutory agencies, all the Neighbourhood Partnerships, Connected Communities Centres who are already up and running, they will all be invited to each of the open days, all with local residents as well.
I suppose quite an obvious question, but what will the Centres be used for, what can they be used for?
They can be used for a range of things. What we don't want them used for is just what's available, it's got to be based on local priorities. These priorities will be set by, initially, by the Neighbourhood Partnerships, and then going forward, by local people. So what we'll be looking at is finding out what local people need the building for, the tablet we'll be providing will ask that information. The tablet that will be in every Connected Communities Centre, will have a very short survey and will ask people the first four letters and numbers of their postcode to find out where people are coming from, why they've come to the Centres today and it'll have a drop-down list of all the things that are going on at the Centre. In case you've come for one thing and actually found out that something else is going on and then also is what you'd like to see in that Centre, so we can actually be evolving.
The conversation we'll be having with providers when we first start to use these 5 hours is important. Because what we don't want to do is to ask our service providers to start delivering a service from there and then them staying in there for the full 2 years. Or, what we don't want to do is ask providers to start delivering a service from there and it becomes a necessity by local people and it's well-attended and then we ask them to leave after 3 to 6 months for another provider to go in there. The conversation we'll be having early on with providers, which is key, is if we ask you to go and base from there for a short period of time, can you look at how this can be sustainable. And whether that means having conversations with Commissioners, or allocated budgets in different ways. But it's an opportunity for providers to get into the heart of a local community, to build up that rapport and then stay there. So hopefully by the end of the two years of a building becoming a Connected Community Centre there will be lots of different services being delivered from there, which are becoming sustainable.
So Dan, how can the general public find out about these Connected Communities Centres, how can they find out where they are and what they provide?
Local people in the areas we've identified that the Connected Communities Centres will be, for each of the open days they will have a leaflet dropped through the door. There will be a thousand leaflets being door-dropped in terms of properties around the local Centre. Each one will have its own Communications plan, each open day. If you manage to have missed the open day and want to find out where they are, on the Cheshire East website will be an interactive map, which will tell you where each of the Connected Communities Centres are when they're up and running. This will be live round about January 2018. And it'll have each of the contact details for each of these Connected Communities Centres with a list of what's going on from there as well.
Thanks for your time, Dan.
For further information, you can contact Dan in the following ways:
Connected Communities Centres that are open
1. St Johns Church, Macclesfield
2. The Welcome Café, Knutsford
3. Bridgend Centre, Bollington
4. St Barnabas Crewe
5. Audlem Hall
Connected Communities that are due to open over the coming weeks Feb – April 2018
1. Church of the Resurrection, Macclesfield
2. Poynton Civic Hall
3. Beechmere Housing, Crewe
4. The Georges, Crewe
5. TS Amberscade, Crewe
6. Jubilee House, Crewe
7. Belong, Crewe
8. St Andrews, Crewe
Connected Communities Centres awaiting sign off (26th Feb) Open Days April – June 2018
1. Sherbourne Bungalows, Crewe
2. Lighthouse Centre, Crewe
3. United Reform Church, Wilmslow Town
4. The Green in the Corner, Macclesfield
5. St Barnabas, Macclesfield
Areas awaiting development of Connected Communities Centres that will be signed off in June, Open Days June –Aug 2018
2. Crewe East (one more to be allocated)
4. Radway Estate
8. Colshaw Farm
9. Handforth, Spath Lane
10. Knutsford Town Centre
11. Holmes Chapel
12. Congleton x 2
13. Bromley Farm x 2