Friends of Victoria Park
Friends of Victoria Park was formed in 2001 and is run by local residents (predominately volunteers) to provide a wide range of activities including free social wellbeing programmes, weekly Crafts Club for adults; Gardening for Health Club, Arts and Crafts days for kids; monthly bike repair workshops; and much more . There are 1516 local members, 12 local Trustee Board members (including 2 councillors) and 80 regular volunteers who develop and run activity.
In May 2019, the residents came together, to create a community hub, to support the health and wellbeing of all Stretford residents and their neighbours. The organisation was looking for the support of Trafford Housing Trust (THT), to meet the shortfall in costs for re-building and equipping the community hub. With THT’s help, they would have a space to reach many more people, living with poverty and inequality.
How we helped
Friends of Victoria Park approached THT Capacity Builder, Ruee after a previous successful application to the Panel. The Capacity Builder supported the organisation to identify the need for the community building, with a focus on explaining what will happen inside the building. Ruee also helped to ensure the organisation had a sustainable model in place and created opportunities for local people. They were clear the Tearoom and community rooms would help bring in income but also create volunteering and employment opportunities for residents.
What happened as a result?
Friends of Victoria Park took time to understand how the community building would serve residents of Stretford and built the connections with other VCFSE organisations’ who agreed to use the building as their base to provide wrap-around support to residents. With a programme outline that demonstrated a clear need and demand they applied to THT for £49,900 matching £195,000 already raised by crowd funding and other funders.
Friends of Victoria Park secured £49,000 from the Grant Panel and on April 12th, after months of closure due to lockdown, opened their doors to the public. Initially, they will be implementing a Young Persons Programme, a Barista Training Programme, and an Apprentice Placement Scheme Initiative; giving young people in the area the opportunity to grow and learn new skills. The Tearoom is also offering a takeaway, delivery, and event catering service. They strive to be plastic free and environmentally friendly and use locally sourced, seasonal produce from the best local suppliers. Occasionally, even incorporating food produced from their own park gardens and grown by their volunteers. They are gradually returning to running activities, groups, classes, and events.
From 17th May they will be opening the café properly, if guidelines allow. They have allowed some groups using the community room and more are booked in – with social distancing though group sizes are reduced at present until July, again depending upon guidelines.
The future challenge for the organisation will be to continue running their activities if government guidelines allow.
Quote from the organisation:
“I would like to extend an enormous thanks to you for your support and patience in helping me to get the application right for the panel. You have been unbelievable. The feedback is already coming through and people are so excited. I know you understand the importance of this project to the people involved. THT will be a part of something quite unique and our partnership with you will bring with it more than the grant. We have already touched on the work you have done re people going hungry and I hope we can build the delivery aspects of this project such as the voucher scheme with your input. A massive, massive thank you.”
Ruee Begum, Capacity Builder