The Fact Find

  • Community Hub: TQ6 Community Partnership (TCP)

  • Location: Townstal, Dartmouth

  • Residents: 8000

  • Strategic partners: C2/ Exeter University, South Hams District Council, Police, local authority councillors, Housing, Education, NHS Devon, Devon PCT, The Children’s Centre

  • Date 7-Steps began: February 2009

We are the TQ6 Community Partnership, known as TCP.

We are a partnership of local people and services who work together to address local issues and community concerns to improve life in Dartmouth, Townstal and the surrounding villages. We have adopted the C2 approach to partnership working and have been going in various shapes and forms since 2009.

We also aim to create greater community cohesion through activities and creating opportunities for the community to do things for themselves

Dartmouth is a town of two halves with visible affluence and hidden poverty. An historic focus on the affluence of the town and the tourist economy has long taken priority over the real challenges and needs locally.

Like many coastal communities, Dartmouth, particularly Townstal at the top of the hill, is suffering from the impact of austerity cut back to services, seasonal work and the increase of zero-hour contracts, reduction and automation of essential services, high levels of digital exclusion, rural isolation, infrequent and expensive public transport and its local hard-working population are underrepresented in local decision-making.

How it all started with C2/Hub History

It all started back in 2009 by the then local police inspector, Paul Morgan, who identified that problems emerging from the Police Community Liaison meetings were in fact multi-agency in nature and could not be solved by Police alone, he knew about the C2 Connecting Communities programme, through the Beacon Project in Falmouth, which draws together key service providers and residents to work together in partnership as equals within their neighbourhood and felt this was the right model to bring the services partners together with the local community of Townstal, to collectively tackle issues together and to give the residents of Townstal a voice.

Townstal Community Partnership was formed in 2009 and achieved much in the first few years, so much so that it was used as an exemplar site for the Department of Health HELP project

A can-do community partnership: Focus Group Report

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In subsequent years the partnership has kept going, though energy has ebbed & flowed particularly with the impact of austerity and shifts in working practices of organisations which have made service provision less accessible to this town .

Back in 2016 TCP were chosen as one of only 20 communities nationally in the Placed Based Social Action programme with the National Lottery. This programme provided a fresh impetus from this passionate, energetic and close-knit community who brought back to the forefront the very same issues faced over 11 years previously, with underlying issues of hidden poverty and the new depth of disconnection between service providers and those in the community needing help and support. The partnership has been reignited with significant influence and new energy coming from self-funded charity Dartmouth Community Chest and the community identifying the need for their own hub space (s) to meet and to get support locally from key services.

The partnership now has a new name – TQ6 Community Partnership – still TCP – but breaking down barriers of the divisions felt in this community between top and bottom of town that often brought challenges – helping to promote that we are all one town

The next chapter has already started and soon there will be a dedicated community hub, providing a safe, informal and community owned space and direct access to services and a visible presence in the town

The Friday ‘Hub at the hall’ sessions is bringing key services back into the community and providing a space for local people, both old and young, to meet up with each other, all over a cup of tea and hot food.

 

“This hub is great and what we need, people can come up and talk to services and have queries sorted instantly, I have been trying to sort a problem out with my housing, 3 weeks I have been ringing and nothing happens, today I have been here and met them face to face and it was sorted in 10 minutes, and I get to meet other locals  and have a cup of tea. This is what should be in place in the community, its great and it’s what these community spaces should be about, rather than just being there for slimming world! ”

Resident

Another key part of this next chapter are the new Town Councillors who stood because of the underrepresentation of a large part of the town. A group of local residents from all walks of life, felt change was desperately needed so they formed the Dartmouth Initiative Group (DIG) with a collective goal to make the town better and fairer for all and to bring back much needed services. They won 11 of the 16 seats and so with a majority can start to drive forward the changes that the community are asking for.

An article in the Guardian says:

‘In May’s town council elections, 11 of Dartmouth’s 16 seats were won by the new Dartmouth Initiative Group (DIG). Its most vocal representative is Dawn Shepherd, who moved there from Wolverhampton 15 years ago. Her journey to public office began when she started the local food bank. “There’s a lot of poverty here,” she says. “And, on top of that, where we are is like an island. We have no Job Centre, so it is £6 each time on the bus. Having to go somewhere else for everything adds to the poverty.’

Thomas Guy visited the Community Hub one Friday at Townstal Community Hall. He was hearted by the continued efforts of the community to look out for its members.

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