Blog Special – Mum’s the Word

Mum’s the Word –Uniform/ Activity Kit Recycling

Neighbourhood Pioneers Rachel Rhodes and Caroline Fotios, two mums from Blackburn with Darwen have designed a scheme that sees parents donate unwanted uniforms/activity kits that are in good condition. The scheme will ‘re-love’ these items and aims to alleviate the burden of cost that uniforms/kits can have on families, by providing the opportunity to purchase these items from Mum’s The Word at a greatly reduced price; Mum’s The Word believes that everyone should be able to have the option to choose without being stigmatised

This scheme promotes the reduction of land fill and their carbon footprint.

Recycling helps to protect the environment and saves energy by reducing greenhouse gas emissions; Consumers in the UK presently purchase 2.15 million tonnes of new clothing/shoes every year, 900,000 items are thrown away annually. 1.8 million tonnes of CO2 are produced every year; this is the equivalent to taking 5 million cars off the road.

Mums-The-Word provides recycle bins and literature to local schools, children’s centres, public buildings and community centres. Mum’s the Word staff collect donations on a regular basis, maintaining regular contact, refreshing baskets and literature at all designated points.

Mum’s The Word aims to be part of local communities, this will be done by regular visits to all supporting organisations, delivering weekly drop-ins at various collection points and having the opportunity to offer their volunteer programme within the localities.


Blog Special – Football Gambia

Neighbourhood Pioneer Lewis Atkinson first sent out 100KG of football kits and tracksuits from Darwen Spartans JFC over to Gambia through Football Gambia to under privileged children. He then attended Stand Out in Darwen Turning Ideas into Action Event to apply for funding to pay for his flight to Gambia to carry on his volunteering over there. Lewis told the other pioneer projects about their idea and what it would do for the children over in Gambia and the community fundraising projects that would take place in our town, Lewis was successful in the vote and received £1,000. Lewis recruited more volunteers to support him to put on more fundraising events in the town and managed to secure £250 from Farley’s Solicitors. The lads then put some collection buckets into the local shops in Blackburn and Darwen to raise more money for their trip and £150-£175 was raised from the bucket collections. They realised that Darwen Gala would be a brilliant place to hold their next fundraising event and decided on a leg wax. Following sponsorship from family and friends they managed to raise £300. At this point they had raised £1725. They then thought about doing a football tournament and decided to bring in local football teams to take part. The tournament was held at DACA and lasted all day with all teams enjoying the day. A tuck shop for food and drinks were sold. £350-£400 was raised from the tournament and from the tuck shop so this put us on £2125 altogether. Also one of the parents did a darts marathon which lasted 12 hours that raised £150-£200, and with donations from parents that raised £30, a full day fancy dress which raised £50 and a coaching session at St. Cuthberts which raised £30 their total was £2435. They also had a final bucket collection from the shops which finally raised £65. They also raised an extra £400 from Darwen council for the injections needed for Gambia, these included yellow fever, hepatitis A+B, typhoid and meningococcal.

As you can see the lads were very committed to fundraising for their trip to Gambia and have now been over and helped build a well, rebuild homes and teach football.

blog update 9

What’s happened this month?

Shiny new projects

At the last ‘Turning ideas into action’ event we funded ten projects and are supporting another sixteen to develop their ideas across the town. After Christmas the Neighbourhood Pioneers from the event have been in to see us to complete their action plan and funding agreement, we have been focusing on their assets and how other people can support their ideas to develop with as little money as possible. This is proving to be successful.

Stand out in Darwen – Together Days

400 B-Tec work skills students in year 9 & 10 at Darwen Academy are completing a unit on volunteering, as part of their course we have decided to bring it to life by giving them some hands on volunteering through ‘Stand out in Darwen’ over a two day period at the end of March.

Students will apply to our neighbourhood pioneer projects across the town to support each project for the two days to gain volunteering experience and gather evidence for their accredited unit.

We have been delivering workshops in the student’s lessons and assemblies leading up to the Stand out in Darwen – Together days to inform students about what is a ‘Volunteer’ and what is expected of them as volunteers over the two day period.

Some of the students have been inspired to become a volunteer more long term and have been enquiring about volunteer placements on a local farm and nursery.

We hope to run this event annually to raise awareness of volunteering and the ‘Stand out in Darwen’ campaign.

Spreading the love

We have been delivering ABCD workshops this month to ‘Think family’ partners, ‘extended shared neighbourhood teams’ and ‘NHS Healthy streets’, this has been great as we are now known to be experts in this field and we have a model that works. It has been great for us to reach out to other services across Lancashire to share our learning and hopefully inspire others to work in an asset based approach.

Skate park using only assets

One of the pioneer projects that came forward to build a skate park in Darwen has now successfully moved a donated skate park from one of neighbouring towns. The young people have built links within the community and have moved the skate park using the assets within the town. The fire brigade and a local haulage company offered their help to work with community members to make the lads dream come true.


At our last partnership meeting we discussed sustainability of the pilot after April and looked at how we might implement the ‘Stand out’ approach within the partnership. We decided that we would have two separate panels. One called the ‘Pegasus Fund panel’ that would focus on the fund and donations into the fund. The Pegasus fund panel would not decide where funds would go but be the face of the fund. We decided that this panel would need to be elected members and would be made up of donors and purse string holders within the council or town council.

The second panel would be the delivery panel of ‘Stand out in Darwen’. This would be made up of active members who would deliver certain elements of the programme. The ‘Stand out in Darwen panel would be made up of partners including CVS, BWD, NHS, DVHS, Time bank, Community Champions and ourselves.

I am now currently writing TOR for each panel making sure people’s roles are clear.

‘Stand out UK’

We feel that what we have achieved this year has been great for this community and we feel that this can be replicated in other towns, so we have decided to produce a tool kit from our learning to share with other schools, academies, community groups and councils across the UK.

Case Studies

When we have been speaking with people from other organisations they have been asking us about the people we are working with and they want to know more about the projects. We have decided to write about ten stories with some of our projects focusing on how them becoming more engaged in their community has affected their life and others around them. We hope these stories will inspire others to get involved and become active members in their community.


We are currently drafting up a new website that will be for the community to use to share their assets. The website will be for the community to log onto and share their time and resources across the town. Watch this space for new developments!!

What have you learnt this month?

We have learnt that communities move at a very slow pace, to change people’s usual ways of working with a community is very difficult. When people are elected into a role they feel it’s their job to decide what is best for their community rather than letting the people from the community decide. We are hoping to deliver more and more workshops across the town to show how to empower individuals rather than make decisions for them.

What has been challenging this month?

We have been preaching this new way of working now for months and we are meeting lots of people from different services and organisations and they are all blown away with the success of the project and leave the meetings totally inspired. BUT – nothing happens after these meetings…

No-one seems to be able to say “right let’s do this!”

We need to aim high and meet the ‘Big Wigs’ – easier said than done.

What are you proud of this month?

Now we can see the pilot phase finish line we are starting to see what we have accomplished over the past year. We feel proud of the community champions / neighbourhood pioneers passion to succeed in their ideas for the town and the amount of time and effort everyone has given to make this pilot come to life.

Blog Special – Virtual Library

Blog Special

Virtual Library Café

Neighbourhood Pioneer John East (Friends of Darwen Library) attended our ‘Turning ideas into Action’ event to ask for support. Due to the cuts the library service Darwen library is now closed every Tuesday and he wanted to explore options with us to offer the service elsewhere on a Tuesday.

We decided that our school would be a perfect place for this to happen due to our brand new resources, computers, printers and photocopying facilities.

We have been working with John have now managed to get a ‘Virtual Library café’ open at DACA in partnership with the Library and Friends of Darwen Library.

The virtual library is ran by seven volunteers we call ‘Digital Champions’ who have been trained up to support the community to get on line and use the library’s E-Learning package which includes…

· Mouse and keyboard skills

· Search the internet

· Set up an e-mail account

· Send an e-mail

· Use social media sites

· Job search

· How to use ‘Word’ and other computer programmes

· Ancestry programmes

· Theory tests

We have had a great start to the year with people coming along to access the facilities from very different backgrounds and abilities. The Telegraph newspaper has helped us promote the sessions too.

Our ‘Digital Champions’ are doing a great job supporting the people that come in to get online and have even signposted them to our evening adult learning classes.

Blog Special: Space Camp – Summer Fun for All

A group of volunteers organised a trip for disadvantaged young people to go to space camp over the summer of 2011.

The young people attended an outwards bounds centre in Cumbria to learn about the universe with a professor of astronomy.

The volunteers planned, organised and developed this as part of an extensive summer programme delivered by ‘Summer Fun 4 All’

Space Camp Activities included…

· Camping

· Stargazing

· Team work activities

· Sports

· Campfire building

The young people thoroughly enjoyed themselves and learnt a lot about astronomy.

Blog Special: Communities Together

Local Neighbourhood Pioneer Asid Mahmood has been working most evenings at the local Mosque to organise and deliver a series of workshops with the members. He has also been raising funds to improve the facilities in the mosque for women.

Here are is an update of recent activities, what’s going well and issues he is facing…

Responsibility to Society

Ramadhan Study Circles to address vital issues that will inevitably lead to cohesion and a sense of responsibility to society based around the Islamic beliefs

Event posters for weekly study circles and invitation to the community Ramadhan Iftari (feast) event

Weekly discussion circles to discuss the role models for Muslims and how the prophet of Islam was an ambassador to society contributing top dealing with its problems

Oct 21st ‘Engaging the community’ series (on going)

Met with communities in other areas to share ideas and do bridge building. Again this has developed into weekly circles discussing issues that concern the community. The Mosque has now actively promoting equal opportunities and has so far in the process of setting up a new kitchen and toilet facilities for women. As you can see from the pictures below girls have started to attend mosque and are now part of the communities projects. Young ambassadors have started to discuss with older members of the mosque on ways to contribute to society. Primary schools have visited to mosque on several occasions and the project is now looking to develop this further by producing packs for pupils who visit the mosque to re enforce learning that will contribute to learning R.E at KS2

Above: Mosque student advising elders on how to contribute to society

Right: New Arabic and Ambassadors to society classes now with both male & female students

Below: Primary visit with mosque teacher explain why Muslims pray 5 times a day

Above: Myself attending a BME cultural association meeting in Accrington to share ideas and discuss the successes from Darwen.

Above: In Progress new toilet and kitchen area to be completed by the end of January


What is going well?


  • Community      members are on board with a ‘communities together’ vision and supportive      of the work I have done so far.
  • Community      will now work with me to become more transparent and supportive of wider      issues
  • New      education curriculum and assessment and feedback to parents is the first      in the area and as a result parents are now more engaged with the mosque,      hence community
  • Community      has elected me as a core member of the mosque committee and I am now the      education secretary of the mosque
  • Youth      understand that dialogue and discussion is better than passive apathy
  • Community      on the local street of the mosque now understand why the street is full of      cars on Friday, whereas before there was a lot of animosity between      residents and those that visit the mosque
  • Residents      are made to feel welcome and come to the mosque when required
  • Local      primary schools have now made links with the mosque to support their RE      lessons (plan to expand this to all school in the next phase)
  • Women from the Muslim community have now started to take an active role in the running of the mosque hence community. This is due to organising separate wash areas and toilets provision for women
  • Improved      facilities mean that more time is spent at a community level rather than      isolated at home
  • Islam      and the responsibilities of the Muslims to the wider community/society are      now being discussed and certain members of the community are now beginning      to carry the burden.
  • Community      leaders have now started to consult me on ways forward for the community

What is not going so well?

  • New      issues that arise in the community happen rapidly and hence I need to      build more ambassadors at a faster rate to deal with issues spontaneously
  • Some      members of the wider community are reluctant to support a fusion between      the cultures so create barriers despite requests to attend their resident      association meetings
  • Arranging      time to meet with community champions. This becomes difficult due to working      hours and dealing with the challenges of maintaining consistency, of all      the project work going on week in week out!

Up to date 6 volunteers have spent 237 hours on this project

Blog Special: Darwen Over 50’s Activity Group Trip to Bury Market

On Saturday 17 September 2011 volunteers left rainy Darwen on time with 40 people aboard an old Darwen 1960’s red double decker bus and arrived in Bury to be greeted by more rain but this didn’t damper their spirits of happy shoppers – as you will see from the photograph below which shows the shoppers loaded up with their purchases (and yes suitcases) boarding the bus in Bury for our return to Darwen.

They also held a raffle whilst they were on their journey and made a total of £124 which they will be putting towards the cost of their spring term over 50’s events.

Jewellery making

Every Friday afternoon the volunteers deliver jewellery making sessions to over 50’s from Darwen. This group is very popular and as you can see from the photo below they are getting quite good.

Blog Special: Christmas Tree Festival

A group of volunteers from a local church in Darwen decided to run a full week of events leading up to Christmas.

Events included…

Monday & Tuesday 12th, 13th December. – A time to decorate your tree. 2pm to 8pm, local schools and community organisations were asked to come and decorate a tree at the church.

Wednesday 14th December. Grand opening – 4pm Rovers Football player, plus Mayor of Blackburn & Darwen with entertainment from ‘Elite Youth Band’

Thursday 15th December – Afternoon tea for seniors with carols from various school choirs

Friday 16h December – Quiet Day, candles, day praying for peace, 6pm communion given by the Bishop Nicholas

Saturday 17th December – Evening Fireworks 6pm, potato pie supper, brass band

Sunday 18th December – evening carol service

Blog Update Eight

It’s been a busy month, which is why you may have noticed our blogging has been a little quieter than usual! We’re delighted to be able to share with you our journey of the past few weeks.

What’s happened this month?


Not quite this month, we attended the NESTA residential in Birmingham.

This presented a fantastic opportunity for us to stop, remove ourselves from the project and reflect on our decisions, with the benefit of having the views from other participants attending the event.

We found this experience to be valuable in informing future decisions around sustainability and in future development and in continuous improvement of our processes.

Celebration event

We feel that it is vitally important to not only support participation in the community but to celebrate it wherever possible. For just this reason, we held a Stand Out in Darwen – Celebration/Update in connection with CSV Make a Difference day; celebrating volunteering within the community and Lavender Time Bank.

Many of our projects attended, setting up “stalls” during part of the day where participants had the opportunity to find out exactly how their fellow pioneers projects had developed since the first Turning Ideas into Action days. At the end of the event the projects received certificates from the Mayor of Blackburn with Darwen recognizing their achievements to date.

Partnership working – Stand Out in Darwen Together

Early in November we hosted the launch of our “Stand Out in Darwen Together” brand. This is a development of the STOID concept that we hadn’t originally planned but feel is essential for the continued use of asset based work within the community in a sustainable and integrated method.

Over 63 people turned up to the event representing a number of local authority staff, statutory organisations and SME’s within the community, all interested in adopting a common way of working and supporting community action.

This has further developed to include future training events for local authority, borough and NHS senior staff.

Aldridge Community Competition

During Global Entrepreneurship Week the Aldridge Foundation set students at each of its academies the challenge of identifying challenges within school or the community and to use their creativity and problem solving skills to propose solutions. On the 16th November year 7 and 8 students at DACA spent a whole day developing a range of fantastic ideas building on existing assets and competing for the opportunity to go to London and compete against other schools. During the day all students were made aware of the up and coming Turning Ideas into Action Day where they would have the potential to receive support and funding to turn their idea into a reality.

Turning Ideas into Action 2

This week we hosted the follow up event to our hugely successful Turning Ideas into Action event which happened in June. Its predecessor, Turning Ideas into Action 2 was just as successful if not more so!

After four weeks of promotion through established networks, previous projects and the living room tour over 26 projects have been identified for support across the town with roughly half of the projects represented by new volunteer action.

Building on our new found knowledge of ABCD the event focused much more on the development of community assets and following feedback from the first event the day was streamlined, removing 2 hours from the process. Feedback was overwhelmingly positive and echoed the great “vibe” throughout the event.

What have you learnt this month?

As always we learn so much from our projects and this month has been no different. Here are just a few of the things we’ve picked up this month:

One particular project we’ve supported since TIITA 1 has been involved in planning and delivering a community clean up within one ward in Darwen. The local council and housing associations have attempted to arrange them in the past but historically no more than a handful of residents and paid staff attend. However, when a local resident took on the task she managed to rally support from over 100 local residents filling up more than 4 industrial skips in less than 1 hour! This is just one of many examples demonstrating that in some areas citizens are best placed to organise community action. Lesson 1: Return power to the people

Revisiting the Skate Park we’ve found that if asked, many local organisations, groups and individuals are happy to rally together for a cause and will even contribute for no expense at all! Already the young members have support from the local council, fire service, residents groups, schools and other members of the community trying to help. Lesson 2: Communities exist, they just need an excuse.

This month we’ve been particularly surprised at the interest generated in our approach to community development (Cormac, ABCD organisations, Council, NHS…..)

– Agencies, businesses and services are keen to adopt this approach, some feel they are already doing it but doing it together is the key.


What’s been challenging this month?

Our on-going investigation into the installation of a town centre screen hasn’t been easy. We’ve hit a number of barriers already that seem to be based more around individual opinions than policy or law. We’re continuing to arrange meetings with interested parties and are determined to exhaust all possible avenues but understand that this may be a longer journey than we had initially planned.

Our second challenge isn’t so much of a challenge as a frustration and this is simply the amount of admin work that holds us up from supporting projects. It’s important simply to keep the project sustainable but it’s interesting to note how much paperwork is actually needed against that which we just think we need to do.

What are you proud of this month?

Stand Out in Darwen Together

We’re already underway meeting organisations throughout the town, eager to work in an asset based approach and we couldn’t be happier about the feedback we’re getting already.

Progress with the projects

The projects that have come forward have been fantastic and have made some great progress and we’re keen to post more blog specials about these as we get more information. We’re already celebrating over 2000 volunteer hours in the community

Turning Ideas into Action

Having now completed our second which has been as, if not more successful than the first is something we are indeed very proud of.

Stories for Cormac and Jim

Having met with them during the Stand Out in Darwen Together day and the ABCD training in November Cormac and Jim have expressed an interest in sharing the STOID story in their travels as a good example of ABCD in action.

More Visits!

Over the last few weeks we’ve attracted the attention of the Cabinet Office and Local MP’s interested in replicating our success in other places. We’re very proud of our work and interested to see how we make a wider difference with the lessons we’ve learned.

Blog Special: Stand Out in Darwen Together

On Wednesday the 9th November 2011 Stand Out in Darwen: Neighbourhood Challenge team; Jude Smith and Chris Midgley, teamed up with representatives from the NHS: Healthy Streets program and Blackburn with Darwen council staff to deliver our vision of shared practice under a unified “Stand Out in Darwen Together” brand.

Invitations to the event were given to anyone who works within local services, statutory organizations or businesses that work in an environment dealing with customers on a daily basis, exploring the possibility of a shared approach to asset based working.

63 people turned up representing all sorts of organisations within the community including Pub landlords, market stall traders, NHS staff, council staff, children’s center workers, housing association staff, local shop keepers, road safety teams, town councilors, age UK, Sainsbury’s, the library, residents associations and community center staff to name just a few.

The event was facilitated by International Community Builder -Jim Diers. Jim ran a number of workshops around ABCD that captured the imaginations of all attending. Following the workshops everyone listed a number of actions they could take to try use an asset based approach within their particular work setting. They then filled out postcards to be posted to them a fortnight following the event to remind them of their commitment.

The Stand Out in Darwen team has since started to contact each of the organisations attending to arrange personalized meetings. The focus of which is to offer support, training and linking opportunities looking to maximize the opportunity for those wanting to adopt this way of working.