Be Buckfastleigh is a collaborative community project with the people of Buckfastleigh to develop new activities and opportunities within the local area for people to connect, learn, be active, care and give.
Public sector cuts have had a dramatic impact on Buckfast and Buckfastleigh, the statistics speak for themselves: 35% of local children live in poverty (compared to the national average of 28%) because of low wages, declining public services and a decline in high street trade. The link between poverty and poor health (both physical and mental) has been proven by charities, academics and policy makers across the world – and these health inequalities not only affect us as individuals but also the local economy.
Buckfastleigh Town Council has been trying to address the lack of services and opportunities available in the area by asking local people what they want and helping to plug the gaps. In the last few years there have been a range of activities put in place for people of all ages, investment and improvements for Victoria Park and Pool, a community cinema, the ‘Hello Summer’ programme for kids, community meals and events. Be Buckfastleigh wants to build on that work by working with local organisations and other communities to maximise the impact of the activities and bring new projects to life.
By working together, we want to build on some of the great work happening in the town in recent years and support the community to address local challenges, injustice and inequality. The project will be funded by, and delivered in partnership with, The Active Wellbeing Society (TAWS) – a community benefit society working to develop happy, healthy communities living active and connected lives (www.theaws.co.uk)
The project will launch this September with the appointment of a new project manager (Ben Bryant) and a ‘Community Living Room’ space where people can drop-in, meet for a chat, share ideas and participate in a range of activities going forward. The ‘Living Room’ will also include a community fridge allowing us to share food and prevent waste together.
Ben will work with people and groups across the community to identify the gaps in local provision, help the community sustain, support and grow existing activities as well as stimulate new projects. Be Buckfastleigh will have a number of priorities over the next 12 months, which will be determined through working with the local community – one clear priority already identified will be increasing provision for young people from surrounding areas to come together for positive activities.
Be Buckfastleigh and The Active Wellbeing Society are keen to partner and work closely with other small South Devon towns where communities also recognise the importance of wellbeing, for both individuals and local enterprise. Social morale and relationships – people working together – is what holds local economies in small towns together, by working in partnership with other towns Be Buckfastleigh will support communities to tackle shared challenges and create opportunities for everyone in the local area to thrive.
To find out more have a look at our Facebook page (Be Buckfastleigh) and come down and visit us at The Living Room, 55 Fore Street, Buckfastleigh from mid-September.
Karen Creavin, Chief Executive of The Active Wellbeing Society: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with local citizens and organisations in Buckfastleigh and look forward to making a difference for the community together”
Pam Barrett, Chair of the Be Buckfastleigh steering group said, “This will be an incredible opportunity for us to develop some of our activities and make them more stable for the future. The Active Wellbeing Society bring a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience with them and I am so excited about working with them and with other communities across South Devon.”