Recently The Village Hub was successful in getting funding to work in partnership with Take A Part to learn more about how to run a creative community building programme in two neighbourhoods of Plymouth, Stoke and Morice Town.

The neighbourhoods are home to a diverse group of people – we have a higher-than-average amount of care homes in our area, a higher amount of single people and people on benefits. Morice Town is classified as the 6th most deprived area in Plymouth out of 39.

The Village Hub, our community space on the high street has now been open a year. Rachel Dobbs, from TAP, has now started exploring how her skills and energy as an artist wanting to help others develop ideas and creativity can be used in our fast paced environment.

As the Hub works predominantly as a drop in centre, no two days are the same. Rachel is learning to respond in the moment to engage with all kinds of people who walk through the doors, observing, problem solving and generally revving up her creative response mechanisms.

8 weeks in, Rachel is proud to say she has been welcomed into the community – folk she never knew now say hello to her in the street – something she doesn’t take for granted.

So far, she has been mapping who is already doing great stuff and having lots of conversations, crocheting, eating home made apple tarts, leading wild processions up to the local park, teaching badge making and just enjoying our diversity.

The difference she has already made is apparent. Haidee, one of our community explained, “Rachel hears things and then stuff just appears – wall charts, whats on boards, costumes, banners, name badges…..”

Another community member Nico added, “We are so much more of a neighbourhood now. People can express themselves and it feels like people are taking care of more stuff through litter picking, sweeping up leaves and planting in the park.”

One idea that Rachel is intending to implement is creating community asset tags, so that we can name our assets and who is looking after them so other residents can see this care evolve.

She is also planning a lantern parade on December 18 and other ways of celebrating seasons community style, with lots more connections to our lovely local Blockhouse Park. There is a wealth of history and prehistory to discover about the natural environment on which our community is built.

And, determined to leave a legacy, she is teaching the community how to crowdfund and gain permissions and finance to be able to fulfil its hopes and dreams in the future; a future made all the more promising by genuine collaboration. When we work together, we all get the glory!