Wrens Nests First Pop up Cinema

cinema1So, schools out and the creative saturdays team are either off on their hols, looking after children or creating new lives so the number of helpers we have is limited! However that is not stopping Coz and me!

Wrens Nest’s Pop Up Cimena

We are proud to announce the exciting, first ever Pop Up Cinema will be taking place at Wrens Nest Community Centre  on Friday 16 August 2013. We have gotten our children to rumaged through their DVD’S to find ones they would like to share with others. So far we have on offer to show

  • Ice Age 4 – Continental Drift
  • Madagascar 3
  • ParaNorman

We are encouraging others to do the same, so hopefully on the day we will have 2 films out of 5 to pick from. There will be two showings at 1:00pm and 3:00pm and you can come to one or both for free!

There will be popcorn and juice and a chance for the comunity of all ages to come together to laugh and have fun! We ask that if children are under the age of 8 that they are accompanied by an adult and that DVD’S shared are suitable for all the family to watch.

Wrens Nest Swap Shop

Sharing things is such a brilliant thing to do that we are also staring up Wrens Nest DVD Swap SHOP! If you have any DVD’S that you don’t watch anymore instead of letting them collect dust, why not give them away so they can find a new home within your community, swap them for a different DVD or Show them at your own pop up cinema event!

Give them: you can give any unwanted DVD’s away to find new homes within your community by donating them at either the Community Centre on Summer Road or the Children’s Centre on Marigold Road.

Swap Them: bring your DVD’S along to the Community Centre on the 16 August between 1:00pm – 5:00pm and swap them with someone else.

Show Them: Through a new scheme that Wrens Nest Community Centre is involved in we can provide you with the room and equipment to organise your own Pop Up Cinema for free!


Wrens Nest Gets Creative!

rising starsCreative Saturdays started on a very sunny saturday on the 1st of June 2013.  The wonderful residents of Wrens Nest joined forces to collaborate with local group Wren’s Nest, Priory, Greens Youth United (WPGYU), the new Rising Stars Academy and an officer from Wrens Nest Nature Reserve to provide fun-filled activities for their community. It was brilliant to see residents and groups working together and supporting each other to make the event a real success.

bakingThe community centre was buzzing! Rising Stars Academy kicked things off with a dance session, whilst WPGYN were organising football using the space outside. Inside Coz and Gaz were co-ordinating the cooking. Over 100 biscuits and cakes must have been baked, decorated and eaten! There were lots of sticky fingers about the place. When I spoke to some of the kids later they said “We really enjoyed learning how to cook and really, really liked eating what we made”.

dreamerEmma was painting nails, Denise was organising the canvas painting and Alison from Wrens Nest Nature Reserve brought her dream catcher making skills which had the kids completely engrossed as this was something completely different that they had never done before. The kids said it was really good to try something new and I liked learning about how to tie knots. I’ve made three, one for me and one for my mom and dad!”

It was great to see how organised and in control everyone was, they all took on roles and did whatever need to be done, whether it was helping on the signing in table, carrying out risk assessments or washing and cleaning up at the end. I love the fact that when communities and different groups and organisations all pull together something amazing happens. What I love even more is that because all decisions around Creative Saturdays are made by residents that live within the community, they understand what their community wants and have the skills between them to provide it.

It is clear that the people who attended the session are left wanting more with them suggesting future activities including more cooking, basket ball, cricket and tempory tatoos! When I asked them if there was anything they didn’t like about the session the only answer I got was “I didn’t get chance to try everything!”

Creative Saturdays will continue to run every other Saturday afternoon. The next session will be on Saturday 15 June 1:00pm till 4:00pm at Wrens Nest Community Centre.

Collaborative Learning

hand on handFrom a personal perspective the learning that I have  experienced around collaboration includes the fact that it is not easy to achieve, it requires continues communication, active listening and negotiation, but it is extremely satisfying and exciting to be working in a new way that sits so comfortably with the values and principles that are promoted throughout engaging together.  

For me collaboration relies upon the skills needed of a ‘twenty-first century public servants’ (http://www.birmingham.ac.uk/schools/public-service-academy/news/The-Twenty-first-century-public-servant.aspx). Building authentic relationships is pivotal to any collaboration work, shared understanding and empathy is essential. Facilitation and synthesising skills are needed to enable joint decisions to be made in a way that allows creativity and creates a safe space that allows critique and difference of opinions to be shared.

Working with officers who become “resource weavers make creative use of existing resources to generate something new and useful for service users and citizens”, using networks and exploring opportunities and pursuing links that allow me to make connections and continue to nurture these relationships. The use of a whole systems thinking approach which values different kinds of assets and creates space for things to emerge  is really useful. The insight that you get from appreciative inquiry provides valuable knowledge and understanding from different perspectives, which is really useful when working across different organisations and sectors.  

Working with catalysts within the community, individuals within organisations that have vision, passion but also the desire to ‘just do it’ and make something happen. They are open to collaboratively working together and this enables me to take on a ‘Navigator role, providing guidance around the range of possibilities that might be available’

working together

Finally, to build relationships you need to be open, honest and genuinely communicate with integrity. Being encouraged to use social media such as twitter has enabled me to continue and further the relationships with the CVF sector groups and individuals and communicate on a more frequent and informal basis. 

However be warned this way of working is not based on a nine till five day job. Your values, beliefs and heart are needed as is a positive nature and openness to innovation.

Furnishare – onwards and upwards

old furniture B&WIn February Officers from the council (my self and Martin Baines) and organisations from the voluntary, community, faith sector (Marc Carter – Insight House, Vicky Parkinson – Timestep Community Hub and Trevor Campbell – St Thomas’s Network) came together for an update on collaboratively shaping and continuing to develop a mechanism to share resources and equipment based on the practical experience of distributing surplus furniture

Update from Last Meeting

Perspective on the third sector selling item’s donated. This is fine as long as the charge in nominal and is used to cover costs. We need to be mindful that charging does not raise competition with other charitable organisations.  Voluntary sector should not charge other voluntary sector organisations for items if they could have got them free directly from DMBC.

Information on policy on clearance of council house’s. A similar idea was explored in the past but there were issues as houses need to be cleared to order. We will find out more information and explore this idea further.

Information on redundant computers. Some ICT equipment is retained for re-use (a quick fix to replace broke one). Some equipment is return to the supplier. We will try to get someone from ICT to come and meet with the group to explore possibilities.

Progress on meeting with council officers around creatively sharing buildings. We are going to arrange this before Easter. Before the meeting CFVS would like to see copies of the policies (CAT / ACV) They would like the session to include information giving around timescales and process, a question and answer session, and signposting to further help and assistance.

Progress on application forms, furniture inventory and the process so far. The application process had not been very successful – there have been no applications up to this point. Vicky has found success in “just asking for stuff!” and this has worked in terms of she convinced someone to lend her their 7.5 ton van, (she had to pay for petrol) and got someone with the licence to volunteer to drive it, coordinated with 3 different organisations to collect furniture from three places on the same day and put out a request through DCVS for volunteers to help her move the furniture.

Vicky has an inventory of all the furniture she has stored at the moment and each item is identifiable through a unique reference number which is stored in the inventory folder and is also stuck to the individual item.

Next Steps and Future Ideas.b&W furniture

 Promotion now is the right time to promote our progress and what we are trying to achieve. Let people know we have furniture available and that we also want furniture.

Contact businesses / other organisations about vehicle sharing the right time to be spreading the message of what furnishare is trying to achieve. We should be exploring opportunities outside of DMBC where there may be surplus furniture. We need a letter or leaflet that explains who we are, what we are trying to achieve and how they can support us. We need to ensure that it is clear that this is a collaborative project.

We want to be organised. It was collectively agreed that we have the right people on board at the moment to enable things to happen and act as connectors to pull together the right people as necessary. The current group will act as the core governance structure for this project.

How can we get more volunteers involvement? Given Vickys recent experience with collecting furniture from Sollihull, it was recognised that sometimes there will be the need for additional help with collecting, moving and inventorying the furniture we have access to. 

Photo from flicker: George Eastman

Furnishare – new beginnings!

On Friday 7 December 2012 officers from the council and organisations from the voluntary, community, faith sector came together to help collaboratively shape and contribute to the development of a mechanism to share resources and equipment based on the practical experience of distributing surplus furniture.

We took an asset based approach by looking at the assets we have to share or offer.

hands· Gifts of the hands (We can store furniture, a van and driver, We have DCVS networks, We have students looking for volunteering / work experience, We have 5000sq ft to offer)

heart· Gifts of the heart (We want to ensure sharing is for CVFS groups, and it needs to be sustainable and able to grow. We want organised and planned transport. We need networks and connections. Needs to have an identity and a corporate approach. Needs to Link to assets and Localism

head· Gifts of the head (We need administrators and to specify criteria. Explore value banking – give time in exchange. Booking systems for items for collection. Use an application form to apply for furniture. Consider charge for items or delivery)

Getting started

The first stage of this process is to test a model to collaboratively distribute surplus furniture and share the resources and equipment we all have.  This model could then be built upon to achieve the long term aspirations. There is a need to establish the demand for furniture. This will be done through an application form that allows you to register your organisation and an expression of interest. This will enable a link to be made between what is on offer and what people want.

Next Steps

take actionThe Creatively Sharing Assets application form was circulated on Friday 17th January through DCVS’ networks / newletters. Timestep Community Hub has offered to store, manage applications and viewings of furniture whilst they have the space. An audit of what is already stored there will take place on the 4th February.

The group are meeting on the 15th February to prepare a coordinated approach taking into consideration the applications that have been received, the amount of surplus furniture and the timeline to arrange transportation. This will also provide an opportunity to feedback on progress and discuss opportunities around the policy on clearance of council house’s (with a view to investigating possible connections with St Thomas’s Network) and on redundant computers (with a view to investigating training / recycling opportunities if this is not already done) as well as considering the next stages within this process.

Click here to find out more about Furnishare

Wrens Nest Trade school

On the 28 January, 22 people from Wrens Nest community and various organisations came together to hear inspirational stories and learn about how a trade school could make a difference within their community.

Tessy Britton who is a social designer actively working with communities and Laura Billings who is the co-founder of Trade School London and inspired by collaborative projects came to Wrens Nest community Centre to share their experience of inspiring communities and help Myra, Dee and Ann explore how Wrens Nest could start their own Trade School.

trade schoolBarter Items!

When we were invited to the session we were encouraged to bring along a  barter  item to get a feel for how Trade School works. Participants embraced this idea and around 27 different items were offered up for bartering! These included flower arrangements, gift sets and advice about cheap hotels for half term week!

Exciting Stories from other places

To get people’s creative juices flowing and encourage us to see what can be achieved when people are inspired Tessy and Laura told us stories about Social Spaces and the amazing things that have been achieved by people coming together within communities. There are a few examples below;

Men Shedsstarted in Australia and help connect men with their communities. It supports programs to improve their health and well being.

The Common Room is a communal neighbourhood space that is homely and encourages creativity and a comfortable space where relationships can be built.

PieLab – is a platform for conversation, ideas, and design. PieLab = a neutral place + a slice of pie. A neutral place + a slice of pie = conversation. Conversation = ideas + design. Ideas + design = positive change.

Trade School

Tessy and Laura talked to people from Wrens Nest about how to start a Trade School as part of their project around taking an asset based approach to wellbeing. Activities will be led by residents from Wrens Nest, who have passion, skills and knowledge to share

Tessy explained how Trade Schools can help to build social capital and why the effects of social capital are important and how they link to wellbeing. The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. Social capital refers to the value of all “social networks” [who people know] and the desire that arise from these networks to do things for each other.

Social capital emphasizes a wide variety of benefits that flow from the trust, reciprocity, information, and cooperation associated with social networks. Social capital creates value for the people who are connected and sometimes for bystanders as well. People tend to live longer, healthier lives and we have strong, resilient and supportive communities where people take responsibility for their own actions and how they affect others. “It’s about self worth and community spirit”

Trade School started in New York around 3 years ago. It is a non-traditional learning space that runs on barter. Students sign up by agreeing to meet the barter requests of teachers. Swap food, resources or advice for new knowledge. What is also demonstrated through Trade School is how it inspires confidence in others as many students realised they themselves had skills to share and then went on to become teachers.

You could learn how to bake bread in exchange for potted herbs, teach basic bike maintenance in return for recipe suggestions or books, learn how to use social media and the internet by bringing wool or materials. You can teach a class about anything you are passionate about – and say what you’d like to receive in exchange.

Anyone can teach a class! Be a teacher, learner, co-founder or all three!

Myra made a really valid comment around the fact that “people think it needs to be a trade, they don’t see what they have to offer, even if it something like, reading a book to someone who doesn’t see or read very well, that’s a skill”

Next Steps for Wrens Nest…

A group of people including Myra, Dee, and Ann, Lorna Prescott, and me are forming a founders group for Trade School Wrens Nest!

Photo credit: Lorna Prescott

Community Right To Bid

community rightsThe Community Right to Bid has now come into force as part of the Localism Act. This right provides community group with the opportunity to ask the Council to list assets as being of ‘communuity Value’.  The right aims to keep valued land and buildings in community use by giving local groups the opportunity to take control of the assets that are important to them.

Local authorities have to maintain a list of assets of community value which local community groups have nominated. Assets can be buildings or land that is either owned by public agencies or privately owned. They must further the social wellbeing or social interest of communities, which can be cultural, recreational and / or sporting. When listed assets come up for sale, the act gives community groups six months to develop a bid, raise the money and compete to buy the asset. The owner of the asset does however have the right to sell to whomever they chose to. Hopefully this will help communities keep much loved sites in public use and part of local life.

local community shopYou could nominate your local pub, a public open space, a community centre, football pitch, a town hall, a library or a post office. Let’s take this opportunity to list all the fantastic community assets we have in the Dudley borough and celebrate how we use these assets to build relationships with each others and how we strenghen communities by communicating, interacting and socialising with other people so that our communities have a sense of belonging.

Help to prepare for using the Right to Bid

There are various organisations that can help community groups manage community facilities and can help with all your needs in preparing for the right to bid.

Passionate about buildings?

Building land assets

Are you interested in keeping valued land and buildings such as your local pub, shop, and library or football ground in community use?

Are you interested in community ownership and management of publicly owned land and buildings?

Do you have ideas or experience of how community buildings can be used more collaboratively?

If you are passionate about buildings come and learn more about the Community Right to Bid for assets of community value and DMBCs Community Asset Transfer policy. Please join us at Insight house on

 Tuesday 26 March 2013

10.00 am – 12.00 pm

It’s an opportunity to gain information, ask questions and know where to go for help and support. It’s also an opportunity to learn from each other and explore how we can collaboratively make better use of the community buildings we have.

If you would like to attend this session or recieve more information please contact;

Donna Roberts

Tel: 01384 816919

Email: donna.roberts@dudley.gov.uk

creative collaboration in Birmingham

On this site we aim to share learning and stories from outside Dudley borough as well as all the fantastic things going on in and around Dudley. This post is a celebration of the online publication of the Community Lover’s Guide to Birmingham (the Community Lover’s Guide to Dudley is currently being written).

Front cover of publication

Below is an extract from editor Nick Booth’s post on the Podnosh site:

Just over a year ago we announced we were approaching people and groups to contribute to The Community Lovers Guide to Birmingham – a simple  book of stories of the ways volunteers, community and social enterprise are changing relationships in the city.   We finally have the book ready for release.

It fits in with the work we did with the Grassroots Channel – capturing the stories of active citizens. In many ways (inspired by another book called Hand Made)  these are stories about militant optimism:  about people doing things because they care, sometimes against the odds and often with little formal support.

People like the Friends of Cotteridge park, a group who saved their local park from decommissioning and went on to make it bigger, better and who tell us that “having fun is what makes it work”.  “The feeling you get when you are part of a group who’ve achieved something you thought was impossible is a lovely feeling…the long term result is a better community and nicer place to live.”

People like, Birgit Kehler of Change Kitchen, Eleanor Hoad & Nigel Baker of Urban Harvest, Tom Baker of Loaf and more who all share their stories with us in this collaboration. Most of the work pulling these stories together was done by our Steph Jennings …”

Tom Baker holding a copy of the bookYou can read Steph’s post from the informal gathering of contributors which was the launch, an article in the Birmingham Mail and an archive of my tweets about the stories and the launch event … but most importantly, do have dip in to the online publication, and even buy a copy if you love it: communityloversguide.org/Birmingham 

Photo credit: Steph Jennings

Review of engagement training and support

David Stenson and Janet Lavelle in discussionLast week a group of 13 people from 8 different organisations/directorates participated in a workshop to review the community engagement support and training made available through engaging together. Notes from the workshop highlight aspirations in relation to community engagement over the coming year, and suggested priorities for training and support.

What do we mean by community engagement? 

Any contact between ‘people’ (either individuals or communities) and agencies or partnerships can be seen as a form of engagement and the quality of that engagement is directly related to the quality of the relationship between these two. Community engagement is not just consultation! It includes communication, joint working, grant-giving and commissioning.

Aspirations in relation to community engagement in Dudley

There was a common desire among participants in the review session for:

  • More collaboration and working together between people and organisations
  • Real opportunities for community engagement to be offered, with some of those affected be services and decisions involved in the whole process of involvement – from planning, through delivery, to feedback and review
  • Organisations to change in response to learning from things they hear from communities, the public and people accessing thier services.

Photo of Helen Ashford and Jody Pritchard in discussionIdeas for new forms of training and support to those carrying out or managing community engagement included:

  • Online courses and well as face-to-face training (this will be developed in 2013)
  • Training for managers (this will be developed in 2013)
  • Evaluation, reflection and measuring value, including information on the Social Value Act (this will be developed in 2013)
  • Using social media in community engagement activity (this will be considered for development in 2013)
  • A buddying/peer support system for people carrying out community engagement (this will be encouraged at networking events in 2013)

Prior to the review session, the Community Engagement Delivery Group also met and has identified the following needs and aspirations:

  • A need for information about new structures in Dudley and their inter-relationships
  • A need for information about which officers are working where, following organisational changes
  • An aspiration for a borough-wide engagement strategy to be owned by the Health & Wellbeing Board, building on prior engaging together strategies and guidance
  • An aspiration for a central portal for community engagement

Please add a comment below, or contact a member of the Community Engagement Delivery Group if you have suggestions for training and support in Dudley in relation to community engagement, or if you support some of the ideas above.

Photo credit: Lorna Prescott