The Glass-House supported The Ravenscliffe Community Association (RCA) to articulate their project vision for a new multi-purpose community centre. This was one of the first community-based groups The Glass-House worked with, and this project played a crucial role in developing and testing approaches that would inform our work with communities looking forward.
Project date: November 2002 – April 2003 & April 2005 – September 2005
The Ravenscliffe area is a large pre 1960s housing estate on the edge of Bradford City centre. There are good size houses with generous gardens on tree-lined streets. But Ravenscliffe also had its fair share of problems: there were empty properties, school closures, anti-social behaviour and the aftermath of the 2001 racial disturbances to contend with. However funding for education and employment projects, neighbourhood wardens were introduced, and a new local housing trust was set up. The estate fell within the Newlands Single Regeneration Budget (SRB) initiative and the community centre project was part funded by a grant of £200K secured from the SRB programme.
The idea for a new community centre emerged through a consultation exercise involving 250 residents in 2001. People wanted a facility that could be used by children, families and older people as well as offer health care. They wanted “a place where people could gather”.
From the very beginning the group had the ingredients for a successful project – an idea, a site for the project, a group of committed residents, some funding opportunities and the support of the Ravenscliffe Community Development Project.
Through the planning, design and construction of the community centre, Ravenscliffe Estate aimed to tackle social exclusion and isolation whilst ensuring the full and meaningful involvement of residents at all stages of the planning and design process. The new facility was intended to be a catalyst for change in the neighbourhood.
The group was yet to develop designs for the building, secure funding for the building costs and produce a viable business plan for the long-term use of the building. No one in the group had done anything like this before, including their Community Support Worker.
From 2001 to 2005, The Glass-House provided the group with a range of support and services. This included; supporting a fun day to get feedback from the residents about the renewal centre; residential training on how to get involved in regeneration and how to design buildings; tailored business planning and fundraising training; a study visit to a self-build community building in Nottingham; ongoing help from a Glass-House advisor about the technical aspects of the building process; and part funding for architects’ fees for a feasibility study. Overall the group greatly valued the help The Glass-House offered in keeping them motivated, informed and on track to achieve their vision.
“Spending 3 days together at Trafford Hall has helped us bond as a group. This is very significant as the level of stress and hard times we have to face working on a project like this means that a solid commitment from the group as a whole is vital.”
One of the group’s response to the support from The Glass-House mentioned “there is an awareness now that local people have some control over things”. This is reflected in the groups decision to negotiate a contract with the developer so that local people were employed in the construction of the centre. They were employed as builders and did the site security, which tackled an initial problem with theft from the site.
The Communities Fund described the group as “exceptionally well organised” with “exceptional tenant involvement”. The awarding officer said it was the “best project ever approved”.
CIVIC Architects provided professional services,on demand, to guide the group through the entire design process.
Since the project was completed in February 2005 local people have secured employment within The Gateway, with 4 local people now working within the Centre. After the first year of operation the services delivered from The Gateway really took off, with over 300 users per week and becoming a real focal point for the Estate.
Following its completion, the centre was featured on the Community Channel as an exemplar community project. ‘The Journey of The Gateway and its Community’, a film by ‘A Sense of Place ( Sarah Horton and Ronnie Hughes)’,is a story of how the determined local community created and constructed a vibrant place for regenerating their neighbourhood. (see link below)
The Gateway Centre and RCA still provide a number of services for the surrounding community to help tackle fundamental causes of poverty, unemployment and social exclusion. They have grown from a volunteer-led concern to now employing 10 members of staff (mainly part time) and extending the reach of their activities to more beneficiaries needed.
RavensCliffe Community Association – Centre Website
‘The Journey of The Gateway and its Community’ is a film by ‘A Sense of Place