Having laid foundations in the previous year we have continued to build on the work and establish activities to develop our charitable activities.
In February 2009 a group of 14 individuals from 6 local churches in Middleton started a 12 month programme of training to become registered Street Pastors.
Early into the training it was clean that there were sufficient members to constitute a new Street Pastors team (the minimum criteria is 12 members with support from at least 3 local churches).
A Street Pastors team is established by the issuing a licence from Ascension Trust which is the organisation that established the Street Pastor network. Carl worked with another street pastor training, Foluke Blackburn from Mills Hill Church, to set up the team for Middleton which involved setting up the new group as an independent ‘Association’ called Middleton Street Pastors.
Establishing a Community Drop-in centre (The Lighthouse Project)
One of the charity’s objectives it the establishment of a community drop-in centre to relieve persons who are in conditions of need, hardship or distress by reason of their social and economic circumstances.
During the year we have worked towards advancing this objective by seeking to obtain a premises where we could locate the centre. We identified a potential property on Wood Street, close to the town centre, and were able to advance our interest by gaining planning consent for change of use of the premises to allow its use as a community centre. Once this was obtained however there was a change of property agent and subsequently for reasons unknown to us the property owner no longer continued any discussions with us.
This was a disappointing blow however we continued to look for alternative premises to advance the project. We were led in our search to the Grade II listed Warwick Mill on Oldham Road which had recently been put back onto the market for re-letting. Previously the property has been sold for conversion to residential apartments however the decline in the economy had put these plans on hold.
We approached the owners who were keen to support our interest in taking ground floor space in the mill and there was adequate space to accommodate our initial needs with scope to expand into other areas if required. After a period of negotiation we agreed the terms of a lease and then applied for planning and listed building consent for change of use. This consent was obtained at the end of December 2009 and a 10-year lease was signed in February 2010.
Publicity Campaign – be inspired
During the year we obtained some funding fro the Borough of Rochdale Fund to run a publicity campaign called ‘Be inspired…’, and a photography competition called ‘Faces & places’.
The aim of ‘Be inspired…’ was to promote the involvement of local people in making positive changes in the town and this was achieved by the use of various publicity events, posters, flyers, and an ‘I love Middleton’ window sticker. The campaign was run in the latter part of 2009 and achieved some success.
The ‘Faces & Places’ photography competition was also a positive publicity event with the aim of allowing people to tell positive stories about Middleton through the use of photographs of people or places in Middleton that have inspired them.
Hope Citadel Healthcare CIC
During the year the relationship and links with Hope Citadel Healthcare CIC were strengthened. Inspire Middleton and the Lighthouse Project had been cited by Hope Citadel as one of their community partners as part of a tender bid they had made to run a new GP walk-in centre in Middleton town centre.
Hope Citadel was successful with its tender and the new GP practice called Middleton Health centre was opened on 1st December 2009 in Middleton Shopping Centre. The initial work of the practice would be establishing the healthcare work with the community part being developed later in 2010.
Looking Forwards to 2010
The laying of the foundations has gone quite well, and in looking forwards we need to continue to build up the capacity and resources of the charity in order to expand and progress the work. This will include increasing the volunteer base, connection with more local organisations, and the raising of funds and donor support.
We maintain an Inspire Middleton and Lighthouse Project internet domain and web sites, and use these to provide introductions to our work, to build up volunteer interest and to communicate with supporters through web based newsletters and emails.
We will continue to develop our working projects and ideas and bring them to fruition as well as sparking and inspiring new ones along the way, this will be done in conjunction with increasing the promotional activity of the work, telling our story and increasing public and volunteer awareness.