The Fact Find

  • Community Hub: My Community Matters – East Midlands Hub

  • Location: Stoke-on-Trent

  • Residents: 10,000

  • Strategic partners: Stoke City Council, Public Health, Police, Local Authority councillors, Education, Housing Associations, NHS Clinical Commissioning Group

  • Date 7-Steps began: 2011

Background – a scattered scarred environment

A conurbation made up of six towns, Stoke-on-Trent is densely populated with multi-cultural pockets spread across a city deeply impacted by the rapid decline of the Potteries and associated manufacturing industries.

Diversification and gentrification has evolved over the past decades with benefits to some and to the detriment of others. Low-income and unemployment induced poverty have led to inevitable poor health determinants and social breakdown.

Key Issues – an overlooked community and landscape

Out of area landlords and isolated large social housing estates left people feeling forgotten. Persistent offending, anti-social behaviour and major waste issues such as used condoms, discarded syringes and fly tipping posed serious health and mental wellbeing implications for residents. Children were growing up in a polluted environment, which they thought was the norm. Many areas became undesirable places to live with sub-standard housing stock. Homelessness became prevalent. The city urgently needed change. Stoke City Council rose to this challenge and one of the ways they implemented community led change was by setting up a team of community development workers called My Community Matters, formerly called My Health Matters.

A Way Forward – C2 history in Stoke

In 2010 the NHS Institute sponsored a series of national road-shows promoting the C2 approach to community engagement. This was particularly well received in Stoke, attendees including the My Community Matters (MCM) team of community developers aka Marvin, Lisa & Gill, recognised that this way of working would bring added value to what they were already doing and the partnership between them and C2 & Exeter University was further strengthened and formalised, leading to ‘in depth’ team coaching, mentorship and ‘learning by doing’ via shadowing the C2 team in other parts of the country, particularly at ‘live’ Listening events in Skegness and a visit to the Violence Reduction Unit in Glasgow for a learning exchange with C2 partners in Scotland. In tandem to this the Public Health lead at Stoke Council invested in a further five C2 courses, to take a total of five teams of over 40 key residents & agencies inc. police & housing from different parts of Stoke through the C2 Exeter programme, with the aim of spreading the methodology across whole of city.

The MCM team proved adept at creating enabling community conditions needed by cleverly adapting the C2 principles to suit local conditions in Stoke. They have since achieved large-scale community engagement and transformative resident led improvement in no less than 10 Stoke neighbourhoods and are now tackling city-centre homelessness.

Support provided by the MCM team applying C2 to individual areas of Stoke-on-Trent such as the incredible Middleport Matters has made, and still is making, a positive impact to the lives of 1000s people.

Community walks, area mapping exercises to highlight issues, facilities and services, and above all Listening Events led to community led partnerships with providers to collectively tackle priority issues identified by the community.

Residents can be cynical taking a ‘we’ve heard it all before’ attitude if objectives or ideas originate from service providers. But if it’s resident-led, it’s different. People become empowered and change does happen.


Middleport Matters

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