In 2013, Collyhurst in Manchester became a Big Local area; a partnership of tenants, businesses, schools and agencies, with a vision to improve the quality of life in Collyhurst.
Groundwork supported the community led partnership to develop a vision for the neighbourhood, achieving high levels of engagement via door knocking, workshops and interactive events and was a key partner in delivering a range of projects and improvements to the area.
One of these projects was Connecting Collyhust; a project which focused on developing signposted routes to join up the different estates within Collyhurst. The route was designed to celebrate Collyhurst’s history, community and green spaces.
Groundwork’s role was to help the partnership achieve the following objectives:
- Celebrate Collyhurst’s history, community and greenspaces.
- Increase social and physical connections between the 4 neighbourhoods which make up Collyhurst.
- Improve health and well-being by encouraging active travel, physical activity and community interaction.
- Increase the functionality of greenspaces in the neighbourhood to provide places for people to meet and grow food.
Groundwork’s approach to community engagement was to maximise involvement and engage a representative section of the community. Methods included interactive events to generate ideas, volunteer training, door knocking, drop ins at community hubs such as the local food banks. Different events targeted different groups such as family fun days, youth club, over 50s group. Groundwork worked closely with schools, the local churches, tenants and residents associations and other CVS organisations in order to extend reach across the 4 neighbourhoods. Engagement with elected members was integral across the process too.
Project achievements include:
- Creation of 3 foods growing hubs and a community orchard delivered and managed, with support from Groundwork, by local volunteers recruited through the engagement programme.
- Creation of 5 Connecting Collyhurst safe walking routes co-designed with the community. The routes are of varying lengths (440m-2.3 km) and serve different purposes. For example fitness trails, walking trails, schools link route providing outdoor educational opportunities along its length, routes providing linkages between community venues. Safe crossing points have been installed also.
- The UK’s first “Forest schools campus” – the opportunity to deliver this was identified as part of the engagement process for Connecting Collyhurst. Delivery has provided an outdoor education environment across 10 interconnected sites across Collyhurst.
- Arts project with local schools to provide interpretation and waymarking along the routes.