This week, our Communities Team has headed to the ABCD Festival in Ribby Hall in Blackpool.

ABCD stands for Asset Based Community Development, a strength based approach that Forever Manchester piloted in 2011. This pilot scheme saw us employ our first Community Builders in four areas of Greater Manchester; Alt and St James in Oldham, Lostock in Trafford and Great Lever in Bolton.

Forever Manchester was and still is the only Community Foundation in the UK to employ Community Builders, and we believe we are also the only Community Foundation in the world to do so too.

Our Communities Team are joining James Hampson, our Connecting Communities Organiser at the ABCD Festival 2015 throughout the week, learning more about ABCD and joined by advocates of the approach from around the world, including Vietnam, Canada and America.

The ABCD approach led Forever Manchester on the path of piloting the Cash4Graft Award, which gives community projects across Greater Manchester £250 to get their ideas off the ground.

Since 2011 we have had a lot of success stories from this scheme. Our Community Builders speak directly with individuals in areas across Greater Manchester to see what they want to do to improve their area and bring their community together.

A great example of Cash4Graft awardees is ‘The Jim Jam Girls’.

The Jim Jam Girls are a group of women from Alt in Oldham who make jam from fruit from the local orchard grown with our Community Builders in Oldham thanks to funds from Forever Manchester.

The girls come together and make jam to be sold in the local community. The original £250 Cash4Graft award paid for jars and other equipment needed to get the idea off the ground.

The Jim Jam Girls have developed great friendships through starting the group and have also taught people in the area how to make their own jams. The jam is sold in various outlets across Oldham and after the initial grant from Forever Manchester, the group is now self-sustaining.

The three women who run the group like to get the whole community involved in the making of the jam, making it a project for the whole of Alt.

One of the Jim Jam Girls, Steph said: “We started out making the jam as a hobby really, a fun thing to do and for the residents to get together. People love it and word has got around. My gran always made jam and I have always wanted to learn how to do it as I wanted to find a way of using up all the left over fruit. We grow the fruit ourselves in the large orchard on the estate and we get the local kids to pick the fruit for us. Our neighbours also give us their surplus – the more fruit we get the more jam we can make. We are really proud that our jam is now for sale in Oldham. You can’t get more local than this and it’s delicious.”