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CASE STUDY: Running an Open Day to build local partnerships

Green Community Hub: West Boldon Lodge
Author:
Katherine Mason-Gage, Project Facilitator, Northern Network, Groundwork South and North Tyneside

The Challenge:

West Boldon Lodge has primarily operated as an environmental education centre since it opened. While the education team would hold public events during the school holidays, there haven’t been consistent opportunities for the public or other community groups to use the site, with the majority of residents in the area either not knowing the lodge existed at all or not knowing what happens there.

The introduction of the Green Hub project means we are looking to collaborate with a host of partners from the public and community groups to businesses and social prescribers. Therefore, we needed to find a way to introduce possible partners to the lodge, give them a tour of the site and demonstrate what our plans for the future are and what partnership working would look like.

The Solution:

We decided to hold an open day and invite community and residents’ groups, charity sector organisations, and other businesses, to explain our plans for the future, and to invite them to think of ways in which they could use the site to help their service users.

We had two time slots that people could book via Eventbrite and the sessions were publicised on social media platforms as well as using an established information-sharing platform in South Tyneside. We also sent out targeted, personalized email invites to organisations or groups that we were particularly interested in working with.

The sessions themselves were a combination of presentations and a site tour. Included in the presentations were introductions to the team and the work at the lodge up to this point, and explaining what we were trying to achieve through the Green Hubs and Northern Network, then how they could get involved in our future plans. Following the presentations, we took the participants on a site tour and spoke about what the site has to offer and how they could access it through collaborative work.

Results

The open day was a massive success, the feedback we got was really positive and almost every person who came contacted me again to discuss how their organization could utilize the site. We have already begun working with several different partners, some of whom have already begun to use the site, others of which are still in the planning and logistics stage of development.

Lessons Learnt

From this Open Day, we learned that our plans for the lodge are definitely fulfilling a need in the area and that organisations are keen to be able to use a green space to support their service users.

Although the open day was a massive success, which facilitated a lot of new partnership work, we also realised that the time we held the session wasn’t convenient for a lot of voluntary sector participants. We have decided to hold another Open Day outside of working hours to allow members of the voluntary sector and members of the public to visit and see what we have to offer and discuss their ideas for groups or projects they think they want to start. We have already started planning this Open Day and are confident that we will have a similar response.

This case study was written by Katherine Mason-Gage, our Northern Network project facilitator for Groundwork South and North Tyneside. You can find out more about her work at West Boldon Lodge below.

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