Cherry Underwood, Trust Executive at The Renewal Trust writes about the nationally recognised community regeneration work this amazing charity has done – working with local communities in St Ann’s, Sneinton and Mapperley, Nottingham.
The Renewal Trust was established in 1997 and borne out of Nottingham City Council’s City Challenge programme – one of the first area specific community regeneration programmes. We work with the communities of St Ann’s, Sneinton and Mapperley, areas in Nottingham City that experience significant challenges.
Our remit is broad – to help relieve poverty and encourage social change – this means we can offer a wide range of programmes and initiatives to help support and facilitate positive change. We work constantly to promote what’s great about the community, countering negative perceptions, publicity and media. There are amazing people, groups and organisations doing fantastic work in the area and every day we’re reminded how creative, resilient and committed people are to each other.
Our holistic approach to the support we provide means that we can offer a range of services. These include support, advice and grants for community groups, affordable business space, support into employment, a high quality sports programme and a unique creative programme of arts activity. We always strive to host, pilot and platform new ways of working in the community, seeking out new and innovative groups, organisations and individuals to collaborate and connect with.
One such collaboration was with Birmingham Royal Ballet to bring high quality ballet to the area. Now in its fourth year the most recent project brought dance and music together to create Nott Romeo and Juliet. Working with Community Recording Studio (CRS), a group of local dancers and musicians came together to create a piece of music and dance, inspired by Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet, which they performed at the Theatre Royal Nottingham.
Helping people back into work is an important part of what we do. Working with the long-term unemployed, we work to build the confidence and self-esteem, as well as giving guidance about the opportunities available. To ensure what we provide is relevant we’re currently carrying out research, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University. To do this in a meaningful way we have employed ten local people as researchers. The research will help develop a deeper understanding of employment within area, inform us about the challenges that people face and enable us to commission appropriate support programmes locally.
Our sports programme at our versatile local sports centre, the Brendon Lawrence Sports Centre offers something for everyone. From early years development programmes to getting back into sport programmes for adults, we want the centre to work for the community, bringing people together through active participation in sport and activity.
The jewel in our crown is St Ann’s Allotments. The site is the oldest and largest Victorian Gardens in the UK. It’s a Grade II* listed, 72 acre haven situated just outside the city centre. The site has been used for more than 600 years but by the 1840s it was established as ‘pleasure gardens’ to provide space and opportunity for those who lived in the city to grow their own food and to escape the confines of urban life, which it still does today. It’s also a wonderful haven for plants, insects, birds and animals.
The Renewal Trust is committed to changing the perception of volunteers and volunteering. Every year we like to celebrate all the phenomenal volunteers in the area through our Volunteer Achievement Awards. This year’s nominations have just closed; once again we’ve received some excellent nominations that highlight the outstanding contribution volunteers give to our area. It’s a constant inspiration to see how dedicated and passionate people are about helping each other, with little or no recognition. The award ceremony, which takes place in January, is a just small way of saying thank you and we hope it shows the nominees how appreciated they really are, and maybe even inspire others to get involved in their community. We want to raise the bar on how we support and promote volunteering in Nottingham and will be making this a key mission, along with partners, in 2017.
It’s been a rewarding, and sometimes challenging, 20 years. The Renewal Trust is hugely valued locally, as well as recognised nationally and internationally for the work it does and we will continue to adapt to meet future challenges, while remaining committed to ‘accentuating the positive and eliminating the negative’ for the communities we work with.
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