Learning as we go... Stop 1: Gather Dudley CIC
Author: Sally Taylor.
I took myself off to Gather Dudley CIC on Wednesday. Gather Dudley is a community interest company, a “coffee shop and creative community venue enabling and encompassing everything that good people are doing in Dudley”. Sound good? Sure does, and I went with the intention of working there, seeing what they do and how they do it - without prearranging, just turning up and observing. What I got instead was an incredibly warm reception from lovely people dedicated to social impact in their community and totally willing to share what they’ve done and how they’ve done it. I’m going to use the blog updates to note my learning, often in bullet points, so we can be as open as possible with everyone who wants to be involved in Bearwood Community Hub CIC. Here’s what I recall from over 1.5 hours of conversation - in no particular order!
Community gardens can be tiny and still work well. (There’s a little courtyard area behind St Mary’s church where we are exploring setting up)
Invite people in, find out what they enjoy and what they need. Say ‘yes’ to them and let them run with their ideas in your space. Then it becomes their space, their activity, you’re just the enabler of good stuff.
Start as soon as you can. Show up. Be consistent. Even if the whole space is not yet developed, just get going in what space you can use. It’ll grow over time.
Maker spaces don’t need to be massive. Just use space well. Ask for donations of old tools. People need to make things, and they can do it here.
Be open and honest always - it’s the only way partnerships work.
Shout about what you do and let people know it’s you doing it. Then they’ll know who to come to, who to work with. ‘Own’ what you’ve created.
A coffee shop is good - people have a reason to drop in.
If you’ve got an idea don’t be shy about trying it. See if others want to do it. That’s okay, you’re part of your community too!
If people don’t turn up on the first day of a new group or activity don’t worry about it. If they don’t turn up on the second or third don’t worry. You have to show up. Others might take longer to decide if they can. Be there, be consistent, before you say ‘it didn’t work’.
Incubation of new start ups, social enterprises, projects and ideas is really important and worthwhile. People need space.
You can start with very little, don’t worry about getting going.
There’s so much you can do to reduce isolation, help people feel like they belong more.
Sally with Loraine at Gather Dudley
One half of the Gather dreamteam!