To celebrate Communities Week 2019, we spoke to GGT's Community Support Manager Clare Skivington about what community means to her and bringing people together at Gloucester Services.
I also get to work with our community partners to bring fun activities to Gloucester Services to show what they do, spend time in local schools talking about careers and meet new and existing local producers. GGT also support some amazing local events I'm able to go along to in our communities, including bake-offs, school competitions and wicker sheep making!
What would be your advice to anyone reading this about how they can get involved in their community, and why should they?
Think about what you enjoy, if it’s woodwork, sport, cooking, gardening, music or just talking to people. Everyone has a hidden talent – really, and you will be surprised how sharing your skills can really help people connect and you too will learn from others, join in to help and celebrate what we have. Keep an eye out at your local community centre, schools or libraries, or contact GGT we can put you in touch with our community partners.
What are your hidden talents?
I asked my husband and he said dancing when sober! I'm also a trained Forest School leader, I make a good hummus and I like running, I've run the London Marathon before.
What’s the best example of community building you have seen or been part of?
I would have to say Gloucester Services, the story of how it came about, people talking to each other in the local Community Café in Matson (the Matson Gateway), talking about their futures, their needs and a vision. With the help of the community, local people and Westmorland, we have a unique model and a way where business and the community can work alongside each other, it’s fascinating, it’s not all plain sailing but we are creating a circular economy for our colleagues, suppliers and the company, we know with all our assets we can do more, so watch this space!
Gloucester Services is proud to support over 130 local producers within 30 miles, all of which have great stories to tell. We spoke to Deborah of Cinderhill Farm about the good life, sausage rolls and supporting the local job market.
The beautiful dark soil here (cinder coloured from the arrow heads that used to be made here at St Briavels Castle - hence the ancient name of Cinderhill Farm) produced large crops of both. More than we could cope with in fact!
From that first lot of pork, our now famous sausage rolls were born - from a proliferation of our pork and insufficient funds at the time to buy more than a little pastry! That ratio has remained as from the outset people responded so warmly to what they often termed '....the best sausage roll I have ever tasted!'.
Where we live in the far reaches of the Forest of Dean, on the edge of the River Wye, there are not many jobs. Where there are jobs, there was a tendency for zero hour contracts, seasonal work, and with almost no public transport, the prospects for young people in the area were limited. In the Forest of Dean there is no facility for studying to A'Level - something that is only just changing thanks to statutory and voluntary services and business working together to change that for the future.
The reliability of custom from Gloucester Services has enabled Cinderhill Farm to offer permanent full time contracts for staff, to invest in training and to help to provide for 10 households in the area. Our business's trade has in turn helped provide stability of trade for other businesses on whom we depend - such as our butcher, the (licensed) hunter who shoots our wild boar, and other farmers producing not only meat but also eggs. All this in an area with such an emphasis on tourism for trade. It has a really sustainable impact on life and the community.
But above all? It is the relationships with the people who work at and who are both Gloucester Services, Westmorland and GGT who have created this innovative and highly effective visionary partnership. I think we will always be thankful for it!"
"Our best seller is the Original Sausage Roll, though the Sheriff (named by Gloucester Services in fact!) is catching it up fast! We have now made so many rolls in our tiny high tech professional kitchen on our farm (in a double garage) that, if laid end to end, would leave Gloucester Southbound Forecourt and arrive somewhere close to Bristol Airport!"
As a Neighbourhood Connector I try to identify Local Hosts. The Local Hosts build relationships with neighbours that live around them and look for common interests and social gatherings. It’s about people starting to talk to each other, building relationships and just being there for each other. So often people are isolated and don’t have the confidence to be involved in their community.
My role is to try and build confidence in people, support them through their journey to becoming a host. It’s important to identify what people like doing. Building on positives and trying new things. A huge part of the role is listening to what people would like to do but also supporting their capacity and making them, themselves, realise their own potential.
There are so many ideas from dog walking, accessing local arts and culture, barbecues, day trips and even fishing. Anything goes! It’s not about the Neighbourhood Connector doing things for people but connecting neighbours and building relationships. It’s about having fun too, trying something new or introducing your neighbours to interests that you have and can share. It’s getting back to basics and talking, sharing experiences and improving the quality of life for our community.
It’s simple – talk to me and stay in the LOOP!! Get involved and have some fun!"
You can contact Debbie for more information by emailing email@example.com.
Debbie Christie, LOOP Neighbourhood Connector
"This is a great project with a holistic and pragmatic approach that benefits and works with the whole community," said Wanda Wyporska, executive director at the Equality Trust. "It is an outstanding piece of well thought-out work with huge potential to be replicated elsewhere."
"In many ways this was an unexpected award for our partnership because there was such a strong group of larger corporate partnerships competing including Shelter and Nationwide Building Society, Innocent and Age Concern, Matalan and NSPCC, InvestTec and the Bromley By Bow Centre and several others. However I’m certain that two key aspects of what we do together in Gloucestershire marked us out as genuinely unique.
Firstly , it was the vision of local residents that led to the creation of the award winning Gloucester Services business. So the beneficiaries of the business charity partnership are the people and their communities who helped create it.
Secondly we are strong believers in Asset Based Community Development (ABCD) and we know that every community has untapped assets within them. So the Gloucester Services project is one good example of what a community can achieve when it identifies its own assets and brings them into play. Most importantly this is something almost every community could do, so as the judges most important comment was that this ‘outstanding well thought out piece of work has huge potential to be replicated elsewhere’. We hope our experience will stimulate new projects all around the UK where communities can develop their own visions and turn them into their own local reality and we are happy to share our experiences anywhere where they can be helpful."
Mark Gale, CEO of Gloucestershire Gateway Trust
"Gloucester Services has a bit of a ‘Robin Hood’ ethos to the takings where, up to 3p in every £ of non-fuel sales at Gloucester Services supports local communities through Gloucestershire Gateway Trust (GGT). We saw for ourselves the difference this is making. Our visit took us to four projects supported by GGT:
Driving around the social housing estates of Matson, Robinswood and White City, you can feel and see the sense of pride and ownership in these communities. The streets are clean, there is no fly tipping, shops aren’t boarded up and the only thing hanging around on street corners are sheep!
So, what makes these communities continue to thrive both socially and economically (with very little additional investment)?
Each community is different, as are local circumstances and environments. There are however, several approaches which have been tried and tested here in Gloucester, that could be replicated elsewhere, and that have made asset-based community development a success:
Shimul Haider, Relationship Manager at Sport England