Community Leaders Trainer – Angie Conrad
Thirteen females from the local community completed the Community Leaders Training accredited through the ‘Open College Network’ Level 3.
‘The community leaders blew me away with how amazingly they threw themselves into the learning. They couldn’t get enough, and there was constant questioning. Their portfolios were amazing too.’
‘The ownership from the women who did the course was phenomenal. It was the highest level of engagement I’ve ever had in a course and we had 100% attendance – unheard of!’
Ann Lawrenson – Community Parenting Support Training
Ann who had worked for Practical Parenting UK delivered two courses to nine volunteer participants April 2004 – quoted:
‘The groups got lots from the course. Ann says that they were quite needy mums themselves, but thinks they would be able to be more supportive to others because of their personal experience and with skills learned through the course.’
‘The women who attended showed enormous commitment. A fantastic experience which she hopes will go further in the future with ongoing professional support.’
Caroline Gosford – Arun District Council, Senior Regeneration / LSP Manager
‘They are flexible to enable people to take part in their activities. I never hesitate to suggest that people work with Bognor CAN.’
Dave Benham – District Commander Sussex Fire and Rescue Service
‘The wards they support are extremely deprived, so we are able to deal with real issues when we work with Bognor CAN. They are based in areas where there are the most fires and there has been a reduction in deliberate fires since we did work together. They are trusted within the community and trusted within the partnership because they always deliver and they provide a link into the community, a real asset and there aren’t many of those around.’
‘Bognor CAN are innovative. They always come to us with ideas and we are always open to a conversation and where possible, we will target our time and resources where we think they will have most benefit.’
‘It must be difficult to do what they do and with volunteers. The fact that they have won awards voted for by local people, means that they must be doing something right.’
‘They are assertive and driven, if you say you can help they won’t let you forget.
Derek Moore MBE – Co-ordinator – Arun Volunteer Centre
‘Many of the volunteers we send are lacking in confidence and they are readily accepted, Bognor CAN looks after people and draws on their strengths. Some organisations want to hang on to volunteers and not provide them with any training, but if we send them to Bognor CAN as they get extra nurturing and move on.’
‘There isn’t another organisation in the district that does what Bognor CAN do. They promote social inclusion but also involve those who are affected by issues such as English is not their first language, people with disabilities and people with mental health issues. They don’t exclude anybody and will go the extra mile.’
‘People respond to Bognor CAN positively because they get things done!’
Georgina Holland – Arun District Council – Community Safety Manager
Richard Bartram – Arun District Council – Community Safety Officer
‘We are interested in the Community Leaders project because it is an efficient way to do business’.
‘The Community Leaders give community insight that commissioners need when they are procuring services. We believe that the Community Leaders model of community engagement is the way to engaging the community in beginning to change the high pockets of deprivation in the community through development work.’
Hilary Spencer Chief Executive – Voluntary Action Arun & Chichester
‘Bognor CAN is the only grassroots community development type organisation in Arun District. The council closed down their community development team a few years ago, which makes Bognor CAN even more strategically important.’
‘There aren’t that many voluntary and community organisations in Bognor Regis, and 60% of those that are, do not have any paid staff, so their capacity to effect change is small scale.
Jaqui Ball – Head of Strategy and Partnerships
Jaqui has been most impressed with the Community Leaders project. This has demonstrated what can be done to engage residents in the social regeneration of their local area and she believes that this is the way that things should be done in the future. Jaqui said: ‘The certificate ceremony was very moving – “I wanted my children to see that I could do something” so they were starting to realise that they could make something happen.’
What makes Bognor CAN different is the geographical basis that they work to. Bognor CAN engage people through community events. Bognor CAN’s strength is the ability to get residents on side and there could be many more community activities spinning out of the organisation
Ian Bates – Independent Facilitator – Frame of Mind
Ian says: “people really appreciate Bognor CAN, helping men of all ages e.g. teaching men to learn to cook, IT, finding work, finding accommodation, raising confidence and self esteem, a whole range of things that people don’t have the confidence to do on their own.” “They also want to start doing exercise perhaps a walking group.”
‘It is a really nice, comfortable group where people aren’t judged and they feel supported.’
Joy Bradbury–Ball – Rachael Roberts Arun District Council Health and Wellbeing Team
‘Bognor CAN has had funding from Outcome 22 for a number of projects including cook and eat, town show. They then received funding from Local Neighbourhood Improvement Area funding (reward money) for the Community Leaders project, Parenting Support Project and the Just Men project.’
‘They always do what they say they will and always are linked into the community. It would be really difficult to engage with the community if Bognor CAN wasn’t there. The council doesn’t have the trust of the community.’
‘The fact that the organisation has continued demonstrates that it has the support of the local community; they have made an impact in a short period of time.’
Mary Caruthers – Grants Officer – Sussex Community Foundation
From SCF’s point of view it is easier for them to fund activities, because their donors are often more interested in funding the direct costs of the projects rather that core costs. SCF Sussex Community Foundation) are reliant on what donor’s see as representing their wishes and often core costs are not a part of this.
‘Bognor CAN is obliging with monitoring information and their understanding of the fact that the money comes from rich people and uses this to their advantage. Bognor Can is a good conduit for ensuring that the money reaches the most disadvantaged people in the town.’
Mick – Mind – Interview
A number of Mind clients attend groups at Bognor CAN, the idea being that they are able to safely re-integrate back into society after a mental health episode. They are treated as normal people and this is a great benefit to their clients.
‘It is really important for the people we work with to build friendships outside of professional pathways. Also Mind offer advice to Bognor CAN if they are concerned about someone’s mental health. Bognor CAN help mind out with events – it’s a two way street. Bognor CAN is a mixture of dad’s army and professionalism – this is a good thing because it feels part of the community, not the community being done to.’
Sue Holmes – Bognor Regis Town Council – Head of Street Scene and Leisure Services
Sue’s main connection with Bognor CAN is through the Community Town Show. They started it together with the Horticultural Society in 2007, because it has the village flower show element to it and things that children have made from the deprived areas of Bognor Regis.
‘Nowadays and for many years, the Town Council do most of our events on the seafront but in the past, recreation grounds in the heart of the community would have been the centre of the town for events to engage with the community. Bognor CAN’s annual Community Town Show has revived this and puts something back into the heart of Bognor Regis.’
Sue Crawford – Community Mental Health Worker at Sussex Partnership Trust
Sue says: ‘Bognor CAN encourage people to engage in a safe way, they are aware of mental health issues, mental health is not their key service, so people start to feel that there is more to their lives than just their mental health issues. People don’t feel judged and socialising is massively important for people as part of the process of building confidence. Bognor CAN is a good step on to something else.’
Su Cloud – Independent Activity Facilitator
Sue has been involved since the beginning of Bognor CAN and worked on the Town Show and the children’s summer activities every year. She is a community artist – a ceramicist – but can work in a number of mediums and also in therapeutic ways.
‘Bognor CAN is a hub for the community. It is in the perfect location for the community it serves. Easy to access and the young people whose parents wouldn’t take them, find it easy to walk here, this is important.’
‘It is a privilege to be involved in Bognor CAN, sharing knowledge and expertise with volunteers has a knock on effect, getting more people to be creative, empowered to have the confidence, learning through doing, able to do things they didn’t think they could.’
Roger Nash – Chair of Trustees Bognor CAN
‘Bognor CAN has gone from strength to strength and there has been lots of successful projects, as well as the annual Community Town Show and is a community focal point.
There is severe economic and social deprivation, but it would be so much worse if Bognor CAN wasn’t there.’
Pat Dillon – Trustee – Bognor CAN
‘Bognor CAN do an awful lot for people in the community.’
‘If Bognor CAN did not exist, people would go down the pan. They do so much varied work for so many different parts of the community. It would be a tragedy if it wasn’t there.’ Still in its infancy, we are always trying to improve and sustain Bognor CAN to support many more people from the deprived areas of Bognor Regis.’