With a better understanding of the untapped community resources available in a neighbourhood, we then encourage the community to come together to create exciting new projects together.

Building on the new connections between individuals, existing groups and organisations, and with a little support from us, amazing new projects are created and help to build an even stronger and more thriving community.

We encourage people to identify and share what fantastic resources exist within a community to support their new group, e.g. a new gardening project might be able to put a call out in the local community for any garden tools that people are willing to share or donate, or see if people are willing to come and lend a hand to get some land cleared without the need for expensive equipment. We can also support new and existing groups with small amounts of funding up to £250 with our Cash 4 Graft awards. Details of these can be found here on our website.

So you what do you do when you have met people with a shared interest?

Lisa Brown, Forever Manchester’s Community Builder explains:

“I met a group of ladies at what turned out to be a critical moment when I walked into the Rainbow Rooms in Patricroft. They had just been informed that the group they had been attending would be stopping. They had forged new friendships and felt that this wouldn’t continue because the platform for them to meet would cease. It always feels strange telling other adults that they don’t need permission from anyone to continue to meet up and share their joy of arts and crafts, but this is also where a Community Builders mapping of an area comes into play.

I asked the ladies to meet me for a brew and a casual chat in a local café a couple of weeks later. There’s never a guarantee people will turn up as ABCD is a new concept to so many, but it’s always a delight when they do. With my trusty map of the area, I was able to point out what buildings were available for their use, what the costs were and how they could go about making a booking. An important part of ABCD is getting residents to look at the assets of their community first, and what they can do together without funding.

 The ladies had already brought their own projects to the group they currently attended, and realised that between them they had quite a hoard of craft items to share. I told them that they could also access a community room for free at the Patricroft Fire Station, they just needed to agree days and times amongst themselves and to see if the room was available.

Once they had met a few more times they realised that the items they already had wouldn’t last and that they would like to start inviting other residents in the area to join their little informal group.

This is where Forever Manchester is again different. We have the amazing Cash4Graft Awards that reward resident involvement and volunteering time with between £50 and £250 to help get community ideas off the ground. The awards are matched with the passion and effort of residents and their neighbours who work together to create and develop projects and are available in various areas of Greater Manchester. Traditionally groups normally need to be constituted in order to access funding, and this can be quite a daunting experience for groups that are in their infancy. This is not the case with our Cash4Graft graft awards.

I asked the ladies to come up with a name and a bit of a plan about how they would grow the group and get other people to attend for the next time we met. It’s vital for groups to do this work for themselves, as sometimes people can become passive recipients of services in the community and can lose the skills necessary to organise themselves.

The next time we met I was thrilled to discover that they had come up with a name for their group “Art of Gold”, had set up a Facebook page and had even designed some little leaflets and had them printed. Being armed with these items meant I could tell others from the community about the group and help encourage new members. I also asked the ladies to come to a number of community events that I knew would be taking place in the area, and with a little bit of extra encouragement my heart soared when they attended the Castle Community Centres ‘Great Get Together’ event with a handful of leaflets and watched Barbara approach people and tell them about their group.

It didn’t take long for new members to start joining and once they had applied and been successful in obtaining a Cash4Graft the group was ready to thrive. They had already agreed to make cards to sell as one of the activities to build the sustainability of the club and it’s great to see all their individual creativity.

As a Community Builder I have been able to connect them with a couple of establishments that have agreed to sell the cards on behalf of the group, including The Malaga Drift and Eccles Community Art Gallery. The group have now been functioning for a good 7 months and they continue to grow in confidence as well as numbers. They have discussed the possibility of becoming constituted to allow them to access bigger pots of funding and grow their group in the future. However, what’s important is that this group will continue to thrive as it a group run by the community, for the community.”








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