Posted by: nickgardham | May 5, 2011

April – What happened!

A view from the ground.

April has been a fantastic month not only for the delightful newly weds (Congratulations to Prince William and Princess Kate) but more importantly for the NESTA Neighbourhood Challenge project here in Newark!

Since launching the project in March we have now started the ‘Root Solution – Listening Matters’ process both within the parishioners and in the neighbouring Hawtonville Estate. We have met people in the street, in their homes and in clubs and groups and have so far listened to 150 people from across the age ranges and from across the NG24 postcode.

In the Hawtonville estate it has been a steady start as we slowly start to build our presence. Gently building trust with residents and starting to engage people in conversation about their area. It has been met with positivity. People have welcomed us on the doorstep and on the street, invited us into their homes – even shared their food with us!

I have met people already who want to set up projects around a summer school for children, deal with concerns around education, organise a street festival for the travelling community, create a book which will teach ‘sans script’ to children (the language of the travelling community), set up a community luncheon club for the elderly, develop a horse riding school and equestrian centre! The list goes on…. It is fascinating to see the projects that have emerged and that people feel they can deliver on

Building a network of listeners in the Parish

We have also started to actively recruit ‘Listeners’ from with the Parish. The reflections on the first event showed that despite the positivity and excitement there was trepidation around engaging with people to whom they didn’t know. A misconception had been picked up that people were expected to knock on the doors of strangers. We clarified this with a letter sent to the Parishioners who attended church, and asked them how they would like to be involved. We have had over 25 responses from people expressing an interest in being community listeners – starting of first with warm contacts – friends, families and neighbours to engage new people in activity and action.


What else have we been up to:


: As well as the Listening Matters outreach work we have also met again with Icarus in which we explored how the evaluation process for this work would work in conjunction with the Listening Matters programme.

: We have organised and ran the first of our training sessions on the 21 April for a group of 10 Parishioners interested in becoming Community Listeners

: Set up our the delivery mechanisms for the work and appointed a local project co-0rdinator to work with us



  1. Really interesting to hear the variety of different projects that people want to get involved in – I think it is great that local people are setting the priorities for action! Thanks for another great blog.

  2. I visited Newark last week to provide some orientation training to parishioners who are interested in becoming listeners. I was told by somebody that for the first time in 40 years she felt valued and listened to. She talked of her difficulties in articulating her concerns and aspirations and said that the photospeak exercise that RE:generate use to help people to think, listen and speak was life changing. She said people are just not used to being listened to and then described the work as revolutionary.
    It quickly dawned on me that we have been listening in communities for so long, I take it for granted. The reality is this process awakens people in a new way. It connects their hands, their hearts and their heads. It encourages people to take action on their concerns and action to develop their community.
    In every community there is such a strength that is not tapped into. People have skills, talents, energies that are dormant. They just need to be led to take steps to make changes.

    I went out with Nick to meet some of the families he has been listening to. What an incredible mix of people taking about developing festivals of understanding to bring people together, food and drink form English people, Travelling communities, the Polish community. Discussions about the rich and diverse cultures. People building sculptures in their back gardens and growing small businesses in their sheds.
    England is alive and vibrant and when we visit and listen we realise that we must facilitate without interfering. We have to support the leaders, the entrepreneurs and the social activists that want to pool their skills and make changes and generate income.

    Stop, look and listen and an optimistic future starts to show itself. Lets stop forcing growth and take time, see what assets we have in our communities right before our eyes. That is what I saw in Newark and that is what i see in every community we have the pleasure to listen in.
    I cant wait until I next visit.

    Stephen Kearney
    Chief Executive

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