The aim was to promote collaboration and develop stronger partnerships from within our network, creating the conditions to ensure that the overall outcome was greater than the sum of each part. A particular achievement was bringing the Oak Road Fishing Pond back into community use through a Community Asset Transfer from the City Council: the pond sits between two large council estates in north Hull. Overgrown with weeds, over-fished with crumbling banks, muddy paths and poorly maintained, the local authority was unable to improve matters. Our funding persuaded the Council to ‘asset transfer’ this to the local angling club, who were already part of our network. Minerva, an organisation that only employs ex-offenders, helped with the regeneration of the pond, providing the carpentry needed to create new fishing platforms.
Our local coordinator, Dave Rawding (a retired police officer) persuaded the Fire Service to help drain the pond whilst the local community volunteered to help to reinforce the banking with specialist material. The paths were re-laid, the trees and bushes cut back and the police, along with our jointly funded East European Champion, made sure that its use was extended to newly arrived residents in Hull. Sufficient funding remained to employ a university student, tasked with developing the biodiversity of the site and to help create a blueprint for a nature trail that will eventually link this pond to the two neighbouring estates.
Dave Rawding’s connections with the police also helped to release fishing equipment, originally seized as proceeds of crime, back into the community, helping to create a number of new fishing groups, working with people of all ages but especially the most vulnerable. This could not have been achieved from a London office and serves to reinforce the validity of employing a local leader, with any of our major place based programmes, whilst also illustrating the magnifying, value added effect that this approach can bring.
Another flagship project in Hull, Together Women Project, successfully implemented a female adult offenders’ triage system, winning the national Howard League Community Programme award. Of the 80 women who engaged with the project only one re-offended: a remarkable achievement unrivalled across the UK. Furthermore, their connection with Hull FC, one of two professional Rugby League clubs working with Rank, has produced an enterprising and successful programme between the two distinctly different organisations but through our support have found a common purpose, providing a valuable source of inspiration to help change damaged lives for the good.
Our focus has been on developing a methodology, an understanding of the principles and process that helps to drive this ‘added value’. Supported by a robust and independent evaluation, along with the widespread use of Upshot, an online performance monitoring tool, both of the funding foundations are beginning to develop a deep understanding of the benefits of engaged philanthropy in a place based setting. We will share more of these findings in due course.