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Imagine Group Meeting in Benwell

The Imagine North East Group (of community and university partners) met yesterday (18 March) in St James’ Church, Benwell. We were joined by Kate Pahl who is the Principal Investigator for the whole Imagine project and it was an packed agenda, full of interesting discussions. We started off with an update about each community project from Benwell and North Shields. Some have now finished, whilst others continue, finishing later this year –  and already there are a number of spin offs from these projects (lots more about this in future posts!). Andrea Armstrong gave a brief overview of Benwell and North Tyneside CDPs and interview findings related to community involvement. This generated quite a lot of discussion about the state of community development and the voluntary sector now – in a time of austerity.As someone said, ‘You can’t let the voluntary sector go or it’ll be a very different society in 50 years’ time’.

Fred Robinson then gave an overview of the key statistics for Benwell and North Shields from the censuses. This has proved a difficult task, especially getting information from the 1971 census. As Fred said, ‘if you’re asking about the 1871 census for family history, it’s ok, but more recent history is difficult to locate’. Its worrying that more recent history is not being stored and saved securely. Fred also explained about the interviews he has conducted with policy makers.

After a few technical hiccups, we watched a short extract from the Hopes and Fears film produced by the Patchwork project in Benwell. Michael Bell from Patchwork introduced the film explaining, ‘it was based on the idea in youth work where conversation is the main thing. The film Hopes and Fears is based on conversations and research and it’s looking at place and time’.

Finally, Sarah Banks went over the growing number of Imagine events planned for the remainder of 2015 – LOTS MORE ABOUT THESE SOON!

Time ran out very quickly and our soup was getting cold! So the meeting broke up and we all settled down to enjoy the homemade vegetable soup made by the volunteers at St James’ Church. CAR group and AdelaideTerr 18 Mar 2015 002



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)