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Focus on Manor Farm Community Hub

Published on: 24 Jun 2016

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Thank you to David for giving me this opportunity to tell you about and what we are trying to achieve in terms of gaining some much need community facilities in what has been to date a quit substantial part of North  Bristol that has been ignored by the local authority since it was built.

The story of our group really began at some point in 2014 when it came to my notice via my having gained a seat on the Horfield and Lockleaze Partnership (another story for another time) that the Council was planning to redevelop the site of the former St Peters Elderly Persons Home on Bishopthorpe Road right in the heart of the estate for new social housing.

I immediately saw a new build as offering potential for a new community building to be located there as part of the development and other NP members and friends I spoke to locally were very supportive of the idea

Shortly after that an opportunity arose to bring this into the public arena and also under the nose of then Mayor George Ferguson when he made a Mayoral visit in November 2014 to Manor Farm in the old folks’ home itself. I asked the question backed up by other residents and George pledged his support along with that of our two councillors Claire Hiscott and Olly Mead.

I followed this up with the sending of our Wish List to him by e-mail – which a group of us compiled at one of our first meetings detailing all the activities and functions we would wish to see a centre able to offer and host.

That was the green light to organise – I took names and contacts of people who wanted to join my proposed residents' group to make this a reality however long it may take.

With the support of our BCC community development worker we progressed through the stages of initial meetings, becoming an officially constituted group with trustee members, taking out public liability insurance, opening a bank account, starting to liase via our councillors with the various BCC departments about which options could be viable, having regular meetings, 3 of us attended a 6 session Voscur training course on running a group last summer and learned a great deal, I attended and spoke at a Full Council Meeting to state our case, and in spring 2015 we successfully applied for an NP Wellbeing Fund to meet running costs and the costs of putting on public events to raise awareness over the whole estate.

A further major development in our communications since Feb 2016 is our Facebook page MANOR FARM COMMUNITY HUB – have a look at what is going on, ask to join, give us a like and post your views and ideas in the comments!

I also post a lot of other information about issues and concerns and events over the whole H+L area, and anyone is free to post too.

So what is the potential deal with BCC ? All being well a centre of an appropriate size will be built from scratch and we should be given input into the design as residents who will be using it and also running and managing it.  We will have the building  but will have to be fully self-running and self-funding – a challenge but we have been introduced to other groups such as the Cotswold Centre in Shirehampton who do this so if others can we can ! But our current  comparatively small core group will need the support, help and backing of the area to make this work for the area as we want it to be a welcoming, vibrant and inclusive, fun and supportive environment where all ages come together and which will truly enhance life on the estate …..

We held our first major public awareness and consultation event on 5th September last year at St. John’s Hall (now up for sale and no longer available which is now just one more piece of evidence of our need) and over around 90 people from the local area came to enjoy some delicious food and to hear me present the story of the group so far and most importantly to have their chance to add to the Wish List  by writing and drawing on bunting  about what they would like and what they could do to help it happen. All in all  a great day with a great atmosphere which brought people together when there are otherwise few opportunities here to do so.

To update with regard to BCC, I have to be realistic and say that the wheels turn very slowly and especially so due to recent local and mayoral elections plus a lot of red tape has to be untangled by them over it all internally over which we have no control .

We are informed by our councillors who are both doing a great job of lobbying for us  that various funding options are being looked at, and it is likely we will need to work in the Autumn/Winter on a business case to prove we are capable of sustaining such a venture  .. but I remain optimistic the wheels are turning in the right direction.  We shall be taking steps to get on the radar of the new Mayor in the Autumn on this basis .. meanwhile it summer and that means it is time to have some FUN !

One month today we shall be hosting the Manor Farm Community Funday from 12 midday – 4.00 pm on Sat 20th August on the Common  between the park and Dorian Road, plus a tabletop sale and bouncy castle inside the Sports Centre. As well as providing what we hope will be a great day out for all the family with  a good mix of stalls we shall  be using the day to talk to residents to gather more views about and we hope support for a centre and what it can do for all of us in Manor Farm.

Check out the FB page for regular updates on what will be on offer on the day and how you too can help

Would you like to get involved now already ?

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO EITHER JOIN THE CORE COMMITTEE OR ELSE BE ON AN E-MAIL LIST FOR UPDATES PLEASE CONTACT:

ANNA GEORGE (CHAIR) ON 0117-9522051 OR CALL/TEXT ON 07851-430080 OR

E-MAIL ANNA AT anna@agtrans.co.uk

Anna is also on Facebook as Anna George and you can also message her from there or ask to add as a friend

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