Posted by: alexabellingham | June 22, 2012

Update: Muskham Youth

One of the leaders who took part in the Listening Matters training, went back to her area of Muskham and listened to the young people in her area.  She wrote to us a while back updating us on the progress.

 “Why do you come to MYDC?”

Gets us off the streets.  People are nice and friendly

Stops us being accused of things

We help each other.

Helps us to socialise, gets us out of the cold.

Keeps us out of trouble.

It’s safer being in the hall.

I was one of the trouble makers.  I was reported to the police.  Now I’m a helper at the ‘drop-in’, CRB’d and everything.

To eat food.

It’s the only place I can meet my friend in the winter when it’s dark as I’m not allowed out in the dark.  I can’t see him at night since I moved house.

It’s fun with lots to do – otherwise I’d just sit at home.

I go to Tuxford School in September.  I have special needs and I want to make some friends at that school before I go’ so I come here to meet them. 

The Muskham Drop-In Centre was started a few months ago after residents in the village complained about anti-social behaviour around the bus-shelter and on the children’s playground in the evenings.  There were young teenagers involved and also youths in cars using the village roads as a race track.  The police became involved and issued severe warnings.  Hostility grew between the young people and the local residents.

Some of the residents organized a meeting for adults who would be happy to support the young people and try and provide a solution to the problem.  They consequently met with the young people and asked how they could help them.  A safe warm place to meet was the identified as being a key factor in moving things forward.

The Village Hall Committee agreed to the use of the local hall twice a week for 2 hours and some funding was provided from them and two County Councillors. The County Youth Service has also been involved.

Until now the young people, there are 42 on the register, have been quite happy just to meet each week, but now they feel that it would be nice to have some activities arranged.  We have a regular group of adult volunteers who come as supporters, providers and friends to this group of lovely young people.

Organising this will be our next step!

Posted by: nickgardham | April 1, 2012

One Year Reflection

NESTA Neighbourhood Challenge Reflection

And now, the end is here

364 days ago the Neighbourhood Challenge programme started in Newark (NG24 postcodes). The partners Holy Trinity Community & Partnership Centre and RE:generate had bold aspirations of animating, engaging and galvanising 1000 people to get involved with community building activities that would develop confidence, skills, leadership and potential to bring about changes and improvements that members of the Holy Trinity Parish, the Partnership and the wider neighbourhood both needed and wanted.

So, 363 days where are we in relation to this?

Well, we have:

  • Met over 1000 people from across the NG24 postcode
  • Supported the development of over 15 new projects that are supported by the wider network of people
  • Trained 30+ people in the RSLM process
  • Enabled the coming together and formation of 20+ neighbourhood groups and teams that engaged in a dialogue of action and reflection with regards to their community


So I guess we have… (at least got some of the way there!)

And in doing the listening we found out that:

TWO THIRDS of people felt that they did not have a say in how their communities are run

—— BUT —— 

When challenged THREE QUARTERS of people wanted to have a say and pledged to get involved as Customers, Clients, Volunteers, Leaders, Entrepreneurs, Listeners and Voters!

By listening to over 1000 people, building trust, respect and relationships and supporting action at a neighbourhood level we have enabled local people to develop the skills, confidence and capacity to start to lead on the things that they want to do. It has reached deeply into the community to new people, to those who haven’t previously been engaged for whatever reason and it has a developed a conversation between local people, the Parish and the communities and neighbourhoods of NG24. It has encouraged new local leaders to emerge and as a consequence new people are now coming together in new ways to develop projects actions and initiatives

When people have come together to explore their dreams, hopes, visions and aspirations they have been supported to engage in a project development process designed to build on the things that they love about their communities and what they would like to see change. Newly identified project leaders have been prompted to use the listening process directly with their friends, family and neighbours to develop and identify a market for their ideas. By building connections and developing the market intelligence in this way individuals and groups have been able to assess whether there is a need for a project but also importantly if people are likely to sign up to use it.

Using this approach, the project has shown that greater success is achieved when compared to other traditional approaches of a project idea being held by an individual and then ‘sold’ to others through leafleting etc. due to the nature of it being based on personal contact and a good understanding of individuals’ needs and aspirations.

The Listening Ear, The Carlton Conversation and Family Fridays have all used this approach to develop their reach, networks and activities to engage with local people and have developed their activities in response to the strengths and identified needs of their respective communities.

Regrets, I’ve had a few

For RE:generate, our local partners, and the funders, this programme was about learning. It was about finding out whether or not, in a 12 month time frame RE:generate could introduce and deliver our RSLM process:

  • in the context of a faith based community (to engage Parishioners in leading and developing activities that would benefit the Parish)
  • with the wider community of Newark (to engage local people in community led action that would build on the strengths and assets of communities) and then,
  • develop collaborative working between faith based groups and the local community to sustain activities going forward

What have we learnt then? 

To us, it has shown very clearly that RE:generate’s RSLM process does work in a faith based community. In the current context and climate of policy changes and localism, we feel that churches and faith based organisations have a crucial role to play in enabling and supporting community led action. Of those Churches that we have engaged in Newark it is clear that they have a strong reach into their communities, that they have a committed membership and recognise and value the importance of developing, building and strengthening community. Each has wanted to and has been committed to supporting the aims, objectives and outcomes of the Neighbourhood Challenge process.

Although not encountered in this project, partly due to the leadership, vision and commitment of Fr. Michael O’Donoghue, for churches to be able to engage effectively with communities it does require the church to have an open agenda that is true to the RSLM process. It must not and cannot be about an agenda of increasing worshippers or indeed evangelisation.

As well as testing out and trialling the RSLM process in the context of a faith based organisation, it was the intention  the project to develop, trial and test the use of social media to create virtual networks to reflect the face to face networks that develop on the ground. Local people would be encouraged to join an online network ‘We Love Newark’ [Wheel of Newark – THANK YOU @lloyddavis] to engage in dialogue and discussion around their place and local issues.

Despite input, being included in the RSLM conversation and being actively promoted the outcome has been a social network with a disappointing 70 – 80 members. Although it provides information about what is happening and therefore a tool for information dissemination locally it does not act as a discussion board or a vehicle for collaboration as initially intended. I think this is in part due to a the following reasons:

  1. Social Media is exactly that ‘SOCIAL’ ‘MEDIA’ a place where people can talk about the things that are personal to them such as whether they have been on a night out or where they went on a holiday. It is not, Social ACTION Media, a place for online discussion about neighbourhoods and for people to participate in a deep dialogue about developing community led action that can transform their neighbourhoods.
  2. The need for such a medium did not come through in the listening – people were not asking for this. People were keen to know what was going on – but not so keen on developing a forum for discussion and debate to reflect on their feelings about their neighbourhoods. Is an online forum too public a place for this?
  3. Successful web based action networks appear to be campaign or single issue focussed. Where people need to just ‘sign up’ to show their support. Do people feel this is a safer way to engage in the debate?

All of these questions, for me, remain unanswered. As we move forward in this project, and into the Neighbourhood Challenge legacy phase I will continue to act, reflect and seek input on these issues. I will continue to trial, test and develop the use of online media and develop collaborative partnerships with others who seek to achieve similar ambitions.

I planned each chartered course, each careful step along the byway

RSLM is a trellis that enables people to grow their actions, initiatives and ideas in a robust, organised and sustainable way. In practice therefore although the process is defined, the outcomes are emergent – led by communities themselves using the strengths, skills, talents and identified need. By sowing the seeds either through a conversation 1:1 on people’s doorsteps or through a dedicated training programme we can never predict what will happen, just use our experience to tell us what might happen.

NESTA’s support, and BIG Lottery Funding for the Neighbourhood Challenge programme, has enabled RE:generate’s work to flourish over the restricted time frame of the programme. The seeds have been sown, gently watered and are now starting to break through as shoots of real potential.

Projects like the North Muskham Youth Project, the emergent projects set up in the Parish such as ICT for the elderly or even the Lunches in Carlton – all have been developed through individuals being involved in the conversation that starts with, ‘What do you love about your community’. People have taken the process, applied it within the context of their own communities and set about creating the connections, actions and activities that have enabled these projects to grow.

From the outset we could not have predicted, nor defined what would happen, just created the conditions through a structured conversation and systematic approach that enable such outcomes to be achieved.

Yes, there were times, I’m sure you knew; When I bit off more than I could chew

As well as learning from the faith based context of which RSLM has been applied the project has also allowed RE:generate to adapt, develop and enhance the RSLM model – an organic, people powered programme of transformational change – to work to positive effect in tighter timeframes.

RE:generate’s model is usually developed over a 3 – 5 year period. The gentle nature of the work that starts with listening 1:1 and building trust, respect and relationships grows the networks and activity at the pace that people feel most comfortable. However, given the tight time frame of the project, and whilst this approach was still possible we had to look at how we could build momentum quicker utilising the existing assets to develop the RSLM model.  In practice we started by training over 25 Parishioners to use the Listening process to grow the networks and to create a flurry of activity from the outset. A learning that will be explored and developed in future work should the partners and programme permit.

As well as developing the momentum to build the listening networks, we have had to condense the time frames which we would expect the usual outcomes to be started to be achieved such as project development and training for transformation programmes that focus on team building, network development and coproductive and collaborative working partnerships.

Whilst we have gained some strong quick wins – such as the Family Fridays, we have at times being conscious that the we have moved people from positions of interest, to project delivery and team building very rapidly in order to follow our outlined intentions in the delivery plan and milestones.

What is clear from this is that the whilst a time pressures and consequentially speed can give some momentum to the project and can help move things forward quickly it needs to be established as to whether people have felt rushed by this process and whether this will affect subsequent sustainability of their projects and activities.

After all, relationships cannot be rushed – they must be nurtured carefully.

I’ve loved, I’ve laughed and cried

So in conclusion, what do I feel about the Neighbourhood Challenge programme:

The Neighbourhood Challenge has created an opportunity to apply the RSLM system in a faith based context. It is allowed for us to develop and test out our systems within a tighter time frame and to look at how we can develop a model of community animation that can work with, and within, faith based organisations. We have successfully developed this, started to roll out this work into Neighbouring Parishes within the Sherwood Deanery and into the Diocese of Nottingham and taken our learnings back to Bath and North East Somerset to include Faith Based Organisations in our Partnership with the Authority.

It is allowed us to test out and trial digital methods for the RSLM strategy and to use digital communication strategies to share both what we are doing, and our reflections on it.

I have loved seeing new people emerge leading new projects and loved seeing the wide range of people that have got involved with these.

The programme was entered into with the understanding that the time frames were tight. The challenge has been to balance the relationship building and capacity building work of RE:generate in a reduced timescale.

As mentioned this has at times meant we have had to manage the dichotomy in effectively nurturing and maintain trusting relationships with those who we have met in favour of delivering the milestones that we outlined.

Going forward we are very excited to be hosting 5 Community Organisers as part of the National Government Community Organiser programme in Partnership with Holy Trinity. This will allows us to build on the work achieved to date as well as growing the work across the Sherwood Deanery and into the Parish of Bulwell. The 5 Organisers will enable the Holy Trinty and RE:generate partnership to

  • listen to a further 3000 people
  • continue to build trust, respect and relationships across and within the communities of Newark, Bulwell and the Sherwood Deanery , and to
  • Support the development of community led action that will enable the formation of new neighbourhood groups and teams that can leave a lasting legacy across these communities.

We are also pleased to launch the Neighbourhood Challenge Legacy Fund which will be a small pot of money that will act as an enabler to support the emergent activities of the Root Solution Listening Matters process.

The next stages of the work in Newark prove to be an exciting venture. As we move into this stage we are hoping that we can develop a 3 – 5 year piece of work that will build on and develop the asset based model that we have started. This will can continue the capacity building work across the communities as well as developing relationships with services, public sector agencies and statutory bodies to develop a collaborative and coproductive set of relationships that can work with the emergent activities of RSLM to deliver better for the people of Newark, Bulwell and the Sherwood Deanery

To think [we] did all that…

The record shows [we] took the blows and did it [our] way!






Posted by: alexbrompton | March 15, 2012

February Musings

It’s been a while so I thought I should blog again so here it is.

What has been Happening ?

February has been a very busy month and we have seen the emergence of some great new projects and leaders through some of our activities. You may remember in one of my previous blogs that we were planning to spend some time in a local school.

That was a great experience. we got take over the citizenship lessons for years 7, 8 and 9. It has been amazing to see how many of the students recognise us when we are in town. We are in regular contact with some of the students that wanted to develop the ideas for projects that were born out of our discussions in the classroom, It also gave me an opportunity to break out my djembe (a type of african drum) and use it for some listening exercises.

This month also saw the Project incubation programme called Newark Extreme take place where we were able to support and encourage some budding dancers, local education and employment schemes and even the start of an indoor skate park  (just a shame I am a little to old to use it).

February also saw our first session of analysing the listening that has been done. The session was attended by some the leaders of some of the emergent projects, the parish listening team and wider community and was the first of many hours of analysis to take place over the coming months.

Our friends at the Bailey Bridge Charity Shop were trained to listen to the loves and the concerns of those arround them, which in turn will help to increase the interest and activity within the store and influence future plans.




The biggest challenge for this month and will probably be for March aswell is really about time management. There is a lot to do in the last  couple of  stages of the neighbourhood Challenge Project, analysing, writing and recording a song, organising a celebratory event and seeing the beginning of a legacy fund should keep us all busy.

Shout it from the roof tops

The real shout it from the rooftop  moments this month have been the emergence of more projects and the number of people that are currently involved in the analyzing of the listening. It is very encouraging to see the Holy Trinity Parish and the wider community working together on the analysis the results of which will be of great benefit to the whole Newark community




Posted by: alexbrompton | February 24, 2012

No Limits


Scooters, skates, blades or bikes need 3 things to make them useful. Wheels, a rider and somewhere to ride. In Newark we have no shortage of wheels or riders. However after listening to lots of young people it sounds like there is a real need for an indoor skate park in Newark.

Step forward No Limits.  A group of young people who a vision of a great space with room for all to use the park, run separate  sessions for smaller children and create a team to demo new tricks and skills.

Here is a brief list of some of the aspects that the guys have worked on and looked in to.

Availability of  land

Cost to build

Benefits to Newark including new visitors to the area

Health Benefits for young people

The need for staff members

Reasonable charges

The need to cater for different age groups

Graffiti Wall

Funding streams for the original build cost ie local/national business, sports and arts grants etc

Skate shop for spares and accessories (another income stream)

I think you will agree that the guys have been thorough in the preparation of their ideas. We are looking forward to seeing the results of their research into how many people would use it and volunteer to help run it.

Gary and Jarred have also built their own website to publicise the plans and get feedback from others. Check it out here…

Looks great doesn’t it.

Posted by: alexabellingham | February 21, 2012

Achieve Your Dreams Dance Group

Colby, Kallum and Elliott – the founders and performers of Achieve Your Dreams (AYD) dance group came to extreme today with a very clear vision of what they would like to see happen – a rehearsal space so they can achieve their dreams. Choreographed by the boys to music they mixed themselves, and having had very little dance training – these boys are a testament to what can be achieved if you put your whole heart into something. AYD were the winning dance group and runners up overall in the Showtime Rotary Club competition. Their involvement doesn’t stop there however. In their spare time the AYD boys offer dance lessons at their school to other pupils free of charge.

RE:generate is now supporting AYD to secure rehearsal space and funding so that they can take those next steps towards their careers in dance. Take a look at what these guys can do!

Posted by: alexabellingham | February 15, 2012

RE:generate goes back to school

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Well what an amazing and inspirational week last week!

After 10 months working in Newark, we realised that, although we have already reached well over 600 people in the community, we had not been able to reach many of the young people in the Newark area.  With this in mind, Alex and myself spent a week at Magnus School, where we kindly allowed to take over  the Citizenship department for a week.

Based around the Listening Matters questions, we designed the the lessons to be participative and innovative.

As an introduction to listening – Alex brought his drum into each lesson, and this was used as a way encouraging students to listen and respond.   We then worked with the classes to think about what Community means to them, and how they belong to various different communities.

The main focus of the lesson was students listening to each other about the things that are important to them.  The things they love about their communities, the things that concern them, and the things they would like to see change or develop.  They then moved into small groups and wrote , drew or designed their group project plans for their communities which they then presented to the rest of the class.

This was something they really responded to – the freedom to be able to think and develop new ideas for their areas that they will have the opportunity to make happen should they want to, was key to engaging and animate their minds.

From skateparks to dance groups, a spa for young people to Charlie’s Chocolate Factory, the young people at Magnus showed true inspiration and vision, and were able really show the positive power of listening.  I can’t wait to work with these young people again to develop their ideas further.



Posted by: alexbrompton | February 9, 2012

January Update

ImageWhat a great month we have had. We are beginning to see signs of some great new emergent projects as well as continuing to support those that are already running.

What’s been Happening

In January we have seen the start of the football project, The planning of our Newark Extreme (ideas factory event to take place in February. Watch this space for news on that. We are expecting some new leaders and great project emerging from that event.

A furniture project in Newark started by someone we listened last October is taking shape so we are supporting the launch and marketing of that project through the training of the leader to listen to others.

We are also very excited to have been involved in the early development stages of a Community Cafe based right in the heart of Hawtonville Estate. We are going to train the staff in the local charity store to listen to those people in the area to see if there is a market for such a Cafe. 

We have also been planning for our first listening session in a local secondary school so we are very excited about that.

Last but certainly not least was the visit we had from Richard Piper from NCVO, who facilitated a great discussion involving representatives from all partners involved in the project. There is a picture from that session in an earlier blog.


This month has been very interesting in terms of listening and projects. I think that the biggest lesson from this month is that you can’t hurry people into starting projects. We are just now seeing more and more project ideas coming to fruition.

My Key phrase to remember going forward is definitely ” be patient and trust th process”


Have we had an easy month? No. Definetly not. We have had a couple of problems arround the quality of communications this last month to which I will shoulder my portion of the blame. The second phrase to remember was “proof read it again”

Shout it Loud

Most proud of moment of the month goes to this quote from one of the guys on Yorke Drive who attends the football project. ” I would just be at home smoking weed if I wasn’t here”

Posted by: alexabellingham | January 27, 2012

Reflections and Planning

As the “One Year Anniversay” of this project draws nearer, we have started to plan the next steps on how this work continues.  We use the phrase “One Year Anniversay” for the very good reason that although the Neighbourhood challenge phase of this project is coming to an end, this project will not end, the impact that volunteers and leaders identified and nurtured will not end.

This was highlighted on Wednesday when a meeting with Richard Piper from NCVO, the Management Team, Project leaders, Volunteers and listeners came together to reflect a little on the project so far, and where we are heading from here.

Facilitated by Richard, this meeting encouraged to think of the strengths of the project so far as well as the weaknesses and got us to think in depth about where the project will go from here.  Leaders shared stories about the projects they have been involved with, such as the youth project, developed directly through the Root Solution Listening Matters process in North Muskham, we learned of the successes of the Family Fridays drawing together parishioners and non parishioners.  We also found about the support of the Listening Ear project which is helping parishioners to deal with loss and the energy of young people on Yorke Drive setting up a their own football club.

As many of the projects are self financing, there is no doubt in anyone’s mind that these projects will continue beyond the life of the Neighbourhood Challenge project.  A Parish Listening Team has been established which will ensure that the Listening will continue in the Parish community and the wider community. So, looking forward to the future of this project, we will bring leaders together and build a strong team to take this project forward.

Posted by: alexabellingham | January 17, 2012

Coming Up: Newark Extreme

Have you got what it takes to change your street, your town, your country or even the world?  Social Entrepreneurs can and DO change the world.

Take part in the Newark Extreme Event to learn how to set up your own project or business, how to build networks, write a business plan, find funding and much more.  Just fill in our application form and post it to – RE:generate, Holy Trinity Community Partnership Centre, Boundary Road, Newark, NG24 4AU.


Posted by: alexbrompton | January 16, 2012

The Beautiful Game

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Now anyone who knows me at all will know that football is not my favourite game. The issue with it is that the ball is the wrong shape and that you are not allowed to pick it up unless you are the only player on the team that has to wear gloves.

However in November 2011 I had a converstaion with a group of 3 guys from the Yorke Drive Estate in Newark soon tuned to the apparently beautiful game.

I started as I always do by introducing myself and asking the question “Tell me what you love about Newark” . This comment was met with great hillarity. I don’t think they had ever been asked to respond to this statement before. It was met mostly with laughter quickly turning to a thoughtful pause and the words “not much”. After a few more questions and some great conversation about the estate where they lived with comments both positive and negative, the conversation turned to the fact that some of these guys were bored and felt that there was nothing to do. “beer in the morning and weed in the afternoon” was the answer from one individual when asked what are your plans for today?

A small project idea came up very quickly. It was simple really, Can we hire out the pavilion on the playing fields to have a kick around once a week. After a couple of informal meetings we were ready to go. halls booked and players ready even I had my trainers on ready to play.

Now in january we have just had our second session wich involved guys from the age of 15 up to 26. Spending just an hour a week involved in a healthy positive activity. I am looking forward to seeing how it will progress. The guys involved are a breath of fresh air and are teaching me a thing or two about the beautiful game. Looking forward to Wednesday evening.


keep an eye on this blog for some more progress reports, thoughts and ideas. Exciting times are ahead.

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