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Imagining Benwell Workshop and Exhibition

 The Imagining Benwell Report – is downloadable as a pdf by following this link: Imagining Benwell Workshop Report 21.1.16 final version

On Thursday 21 January 2016 we held the Imagining Benwell Workshop and Exhibition at the Discovery Museum in Newcastle upon Tyne. The title of the workshop was Community Development in Benwell & the West End of Newcastle:From the National Community Development Project to ‘Our Place’ and Beyond and it was attended by 55 people (from academic, policy and practice backgrounds) who were either involved in Imagine/Imagine North East or interested in the research.
The aim of the workshop was to re-examine the achievements and challenges of the Benwell Community Development Project (CDP) of the 1970s, and consider the legacies and lessons for community development and engagement today. Sarah Banks (Principal Investigator of Imagine North East) opened the workshop with an introduction to Imagine North East, followed by an overview of the National Community Development Project of which Benwell CDP was one of twelve CDP projects in the 1970s. Following this, we heard the perspectives of former Benwell CDP workers: Ian Harford (former Director of Benwell CDP) spoke about setting up Benwell CDP and the significance of their research and analysis; Gary Craig (former Assistant Director on the Benwell CDP Action Team) spoke about the significant campaigns, including housing and industry and employment, then David Gray (former lawyer with the Benwell Law Project) spoke about the legal aspects of CDP work.
We then moved on to the post-CDP period and Judith Green (former Benwell CDP researcher) discussed how the CDP imagined the future; Fred Robinson (Durham University) provided an overview of subsequent regeneration initiatives in Benwell and the West End of Newcastle and Alan Townsend spoke about Benwell then and now by comparing census data from 1971 and 2011. These presentations were followed by questions and discussion before Michael McHugh (Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums) introduced the Imagining Benwell Exhibition in the Hub Space at the museum. Participants were invited to look at the exhibition over lunch.
After lunch, there were perspectives on community development and engagement. Andrea Armstrong (Durham University) gave an overview of research findings from residents, community workers and policy makers on ‘Community development and engagement in austerity’. This was followed by a short film extract from ‘Hopes and Fears’ – a film made for Imagine North East by young people involved in the Patchwork Youth project in Benwell. We then heard critical perspectives from local community organisations including Christine Irklis (Riverside Community Health Project), Shamshad Iqbal (Angelou Centre) and Andrew White (SkillsBridge) and Ruth Taylor (Pendower Good Neighbour Project) who spoke about Our Place.
Participants then had the choice of three roundtable discussions: Communities in Control? (faciliated by Andrea Armstrong); Forty years of urban policy – what can we learn? (facilitated by Fred Robinson and Patrick Harman) or The role of research in promoting and supporting communit development in urban neighbourhoods (faciliated by Sarah Banks and Kate Pahl).
Gathering back in the main room, the three groups fed back their key messages before we moved onto the final plenary of the day – Mae Shaw (Edinburgh University) spoke about Community development in austerity Britain, looking back, looking forward.
It was a thoroughly enjoyable event and here are some photos taken on the day.

Fred Robinson, Durham University

Fred Robinson, Durham University

Mae Shaw, Edinburgh University

Mae Shaw, Edinburgh University

Ruth Taylor, Pendower Good Neighbour Project

Ruth Taylor, Pendower Good Neighbour Project

Andrew White, SkillsBridge

Andrew White, SkillsBridge

Shamshad Iqbal, Angelou Centre

Shamshad Iqbal, Angelou Centre

Christine Irklis, Riverside Community Health Project

Christine Irklis, Riverside Community Health Project

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David Gray, former lawyer with Benwell Law Project

David Gray, former lawyer with Benwell Law Project

Gary Craig (Durham University) - former Assistant Director (Action team) Benwell CDP

Gary Craig (Durham University) – former Assistant Director (Action team) Benwell CDP

Ian Harford, former Director Benwell CDP

Ian Harford, former Director Benwell CDP

Sarah Banks, Durham University

Sarah Banks, Durham University

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Michael McHugh (TWAM) and Sarah Banks (Durham University)

Michael McHugh (TWAM) and Sarah Banks (Durham University)

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Mae Shaw, Edinburgh University

Mae Shaw, Edinburgh University

 

Gallery

Imagine North East Exhibition Launch, Saturday 27 June 2015

It was the Imagine North East Exhibition Launch on Saturday 27 June 2015. Held at St James’ Church, Benwell the event was attended by about 80 people and more than half were local residents or from community organisations. There were also former Benwell and North Shields Community Development Project workers; local councillors, a local MP, and local authority workers. The exhibition showcased a range of work undertaken by 12 community organisations from Benwell and North Shields and researchers from Durham University. The opening speeches were at 11.00am. Professor Sarah Banks (Durham University) welcomed everyone and introduced the Imagine North East project. She was followed by Lord Jeremy Beecham (Councillor for Benwell and Scotswood); Margaret Reynolds (Councillor for Chirton, North Shields); Ian Harford (former Director of Benwell Community Development Project); Penny Remfry (former North Shields Community Development Project worker) and Professor Alan Townsend  (Imagine North East statistics). Finally, Sarah spoke again for a few minutes to introduce the Imagine North East Durham University team members (Andrea Armstrong, Fred Robinson and Vincent Chu) and to launch two booklets on Benwell and North Shields – hot off the press and available for the first time.

The speeches were followed by an excellent lunch. Steve Pool from of the wider Imagine project was there to take photos and film.

After lunch, as well as looking at the exhibits there were plenty of opportunities to take part in numerous activities:

  • A slide show of old West End photos with the West Newcastle Picture History Collection
  • Meeting the Cornerstone Knitting and Crafts group
  • Adding your Imagine photo to the Patchwork digital selfie wall
  • Touring the historic graveyard at St James’ Church with Olive, a Newcastle City guide
  • Taking part in Durham University Vox Pop to share thoughts on the exhibition and changes over time in Benwell and N Shields
Benwell CDP photo Imagine NE Exhibitin 27 June 2015 005

Former Benwell CDP workers meeting up at the exhibition –  Ian Harford, David Gray, Judith Green, Sue Pearson and Moira Gray (David’s partner)

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Durham University Imagine North East Research exhibit

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Benwell and North Shields booklets – hot off the press!

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Professor Sarah Banks opening the exhibition

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Lord Jeremy Beecham giving his opening speech

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Councillor Margaret Reynolds giving her opening speech

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Ian Harford, former Director of Benwell CDP giving his opening speech

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Penny Remfry, former North Shields CDP worker giving her opening speech

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Vincent Chu and the Knitting group

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Imagining community at Cedarwood by Cedarwood Trust, North Shields

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Time Traveller project by Pendower Good Neighbour Project

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A Journey through Time by Phoenix Detached Youth Project in North Shields

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Hopes and Fears by Patchwork Youth Project, Benwell

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Benwell in Felt by St James’ Centre for Heritage and Culture

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Playing with Change and Ideas by Riverside Community Health Project, Benwell

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Meadow Well Timeline by Meadow Well Connected, North Shields

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Remembering the Past, Resourcing the Future exhibit

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Photos by Ken Grint of North Shields life and work during the 1970s

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The Community Development Projects revisited – photos, CDP reports and handling books

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West Newcastle Picture History Collection exhibit

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Growing Old in West Newcastle by Search, Benwell

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Photos by Derek Smith of Benwell in the 1970s

The Imagine North East exhibition showcased community projects by Patchwork Youth Project, Search, Riverside Community Health Project, West Newcastle Picture History Collection, Pendower Good Neighbour Project, Tyne and Wear Archives and Museums, St James’ Heritage and Environment and St James’ Heritage and Culture, Phoenix Detached Youth Project, Cedarwood Trust, Meadow Well Connected and Remembering the Past, Resourcing the Future. We thank them all. Here are a few photos taken by Andrea and Vincent. Benwell CDP photoImagine NE Exhibitin 27 June 2015 004 Imagine North East Exhibitin 27 June 2015 002 Imagine North East Exhibitin 27 June 2015 007 Imagine North East Exhibitin 27 June 2015 008 Imagine North East Exhibitin 27 June 2015 009 Imagine North East Exhibitin 27 June 2015 010 Imagine North East Exhibitin 27 June 2015 012 Imagine North East Exhibitin 27 June 2015 013 Imagine North East Exhibitin 27 June 2015 017 Imagine North East Exhibitin 27 June 2015 019 Imagine North East Exhibitin 27 June 2015 023 Imagine North East Exhibitin 27 June 2015 032

 

 

 

 

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Getting in the spirit!

On the 5th June 2015, a group from Patchwork Youth Project in Benwell visited the exhibition of Imagine North East North Shields projects at the Old Low Lights Heritage Centre on the Fish Quay. They cycled there and Judith Green (Imagine North East community coordinator) met them and it looks like they had an enjoyable time – really getting into the spirit!Patchwork visiting Old Low Lights Exhibition, 5 June 2015 Patchwork visiting Old Low Lights Exhibition2, 5 June 2015

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Plenary at Conference in Leeds, 14 March 2015

WP_20150314_038Three of us (Sarah Banks, Andrea Armstrong and Gary Craig) were invited to do a plenary at the History of Youth and Community Work Conference on Saturday 14 March 2015. The conference was held at Hinsley Hall in Leeds and our title was ‘Lessons and Legacies of the Community Development Projects of the 1970s: Revisiting Benwell, 1972 to 2015’. We drew on recent interviews with residents, community activists, community workers, former CDP workers, politicians and other policymakers to identify and discuss a range of perspectives on the tangible and intangible legacies of Benwell CDP. We showed some short films made in the 1970s, and Gary Craig (who was a former community worker with the Benwell CDP) offered his reflections 40 years on.

In discussions afterwards, many remarked how influential the CDP publications have been in training and education. Indeed, in his latest book, Analysing Community Work: Theory and Practice, Keith Popple (who introduced the plenary) said,

‘[The NCDP] was one of the most important and defining initiatives in the evolution of British community development.’ (Popple, 2015, p. 34)

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Benwell in Felt Launch

The launch of the Benwell in Felt project at St. James Church happened on Saturday 13 September. The project was coordinated by St James’ Centre for Heritage and Culture Partnership as part of Imagine North East. This project provided a specialist felting tutor to facilitate the local community to explore and imagine the past, present and future. Groups of  from different neighbourhoods and age groups came together to create artworks to show what they think is important about their local area – its past, present and future. The Benwell and Scotswood area has a long and interesting history. It has recently undergone major changes, and more changes are expected. The felting pictures build on residents’ knowledge, experiences and hopes to depict this story.

The exhibition will be open to the public on Tuesdays 12-4 at St. James’ Church until Christmas and will then move to a different community location. Please visit St. James’ Heritage and Environment Group for more information on heritage open days and events here and here.

The event was opened by Councillor Hazel Stephenson and involved a range of creative activities for the public alongside lunch, refreshments and the exhibition. I managed to speak to a few people at the exhibition launch about the felting pictures. Things that emerged from these conversations included the use of bright colours, sunshine and rainbows that reflected hope and optimism, a curiosity about the particular places that were chosen as significant places in Benwell, and a fascination with the vivid imaginations of children and young people in depicting what they would like to see in their community. Below are some of my favourites from the exhibition:

Riverside Roma Group

This felt picture was made by local teenagers in the Riverside Projects Roma Girls Group. The girls identified friendship as the most important thing in their lives. The pictures depict imaginary places where they would like to hang out with their friends. Their vision for the future is for a park where they can meet and be happy together.

Hadrian School – Zoo

The two pictures created by children from Hadrian School. The school is located at the top of the Pendower Estate and caters for children up to the age of 11 with additional physical and learning needs. Four younger children worked on this felting picture which shows what they would like to see in the area in the future – a zoo with animals and a pond.

Hadrian School – Play Bus

This felting picture was created by the second group and shows what they would like to see in the area in the future – a playbus that goes down to the river.

Riverside Women’s Group

This picture shows the drinking fountain at the top of Atkinson Road, set in the boundary wall of St. James’ Church. This commemorates the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902 marking the end of the Victorian era. Largely unnoticed by most people, this fountain catches the attention of young children walking past with their parents.

Bridgewater School

This picture shows the Pink Palace – the name given locally to the former Co-op building on Armstrong Road run as a youth and community facility by Scotswood Area Strategy before being demolished in 2011. It was created by children from Bridgewater Primary School in Delaval Road, on the boundary of the neighbourhoods of Scotswood and Benwell. This area has experienced huge changes in recent years. and the pictures reflect the children’s views about what has been lost and gained and what they would like to see in the future.

Bond Guild

This picture depicts the Bond Church building. The Bond Guild began 50 years ago as the Bond Young Wives at the Bond Memorial Methodist Church on Adelaide Terrace. When it was opened in 1899 it was one of the finest churches in the Newcastle area, seating 800 people. After the church closed, the group continued to meet at the Carnegie Building in Atkinson Road. They chose the church for their felting picture because it was the focal point of the area for them and they were sad when they had to leave.

 

Participating organisations:

Action for Children Families First
Bond Guild
Bridgwater School
Cornerstone Craft Group
Excelsior Academy
Ferguson Lodge Care Home
Hadrian School
Patchwork Youth Project
Pendower Good Neighbourhood Project
Riverside Women’s Group
Riverside Toddle Group
Roma Girls Group
Scotswood Natural Community Garden
St James’ Church
St Joseph School
St Margaret’s Toddler Group
West End Library
West Newcastle Picture History Collection

Felting Tutors:
Omi Pharncote
Sally Southern

Project Coordinators:
Judith Green
Ruth Taylor

Funders:
Imagine
Trusthouse
Make Your Mark