The practical difference we want to make
We want our centre to be sustainable, inclusive, and accessible; a diverse and uplifting community hub led by, and equipped with a team of inspiring, skilled and dedicated people. We have made positive steps in this direction already from transforming and refurbishing our building, to successfully delivering past and present projects, and from the recent investment we have received for the future of our community centre.
We want to reach and include more isolated and marginalised groups (e.g. socially isolated older people, men and boys, those living with mental health issues, people with disabilities) and to encourage involvement through accessible and engaging activities. This will ensure steps are made towards creating a community of people that take active steps towards improving their wellbeing, are listened to, and who are inspired with greater community spirit.
Our community and its challenges
The ward of Moss Bank has a population of over 11,000 people. Park Farm ACYP is the only community organisation on the large housing estate where we are based. There are 28 LSOAs within the St Helens Borough that fall within the 10% most deprived nationally. Our centre sits between two super output areas, Clinkham Wood and Carr Mill, which are ranked 6% and 8.9% respectively. This shows the kind of struggle and deprivation faced by the people we work with. High levels of child poverty, unemployment, single parent families, poor health and wellbeing and incidents of crime are some of the main challenges faced by our users.
The geography of the estate itself contributes to a sense of isolation. There are better public transport connections than before, but we remain relatively cut off from the nearby town of St Helens. The busy A580 East Lancashire Road divides the population away from the town centre and other wards. Low investment from the local authority in regenerating the area all contributes to a sense of ‘being forgotten’ and not cared about… all of which necessitates the type of holistic, long-term support we can and do provide.
Strengths and opportunities of the community
Nevertheless, community spirit here is strong! The families we engage with show a strong resilience and hope for future improvement and development. This inspires us. Many families have grown up on the estate, which - coupled with the heritage of the centre - is important in our work across multiple generations. This is usually a motivation for local people to volunteer with us. We have good connections with schools, churches, libraries, and the local authority. Our councillors serve as trustees on our board, and our MP Conor McGinn is now a patron, which places us in a stronger position to make a difference.
St Helens CCG is recognising the work done by the voluntary sector. Social prescription as a valuable ingredient to the wellbeing of people is a big opportunity and we take an active role in local networks, consortia and opportunities to bring our centre closer to work done in these areas. We have developed relationships with charities and organisations to ensure that our work is colinear and impactful, we share learning, and deliver and facilitate each other’s work. Jane Kennedy, Merseyside Police Commissioner, recently cited Park Farm ACYP Centre as an example of best practice during a keynote speech at a Liverpool City Region Conference, saying “…this is how a community centre should be run, by the people for the people”.
This was incredibly inspiring for us to hear!