Community Catalysts

This post celebrates individuals and organisations who have been, are, and hopefully will continue to be catalysts for new or evolving aspects of our community life in Whitby and district.

Ideas invariably come from a spark of inspiration from an individual (sometimes two or three, but normally one!) and a step (or stumble!) in the direction of testing the idea on paper and in conversation with stakeholders who might catch the vision and help develop it.

Inspirational sparks don’t automatically flow from an organisation’s committee meeting intent on thinking up ideas. Organisations can create the necessary nurturing environment for it by encouraging free thinking and letting ideas float to include trusted third parties. However, organisations can also kill sparks by expecting quantified outcomes and proofs of future success too early in the process. Ideas will carry the risk of failure but provided it is “failing forward” from which lessons are learnt and ideas evolve then it is a genuine part of process of success.

The best organisations (whether Scouts, schools, businesses, churches, local government departments, agencies etc.) allow creative space for thinking the yet un-thought! Something more than just the proverbial Suggestion Box.

Let Shedder Graham shed light on this from his experiences this past year in the world of Sheds. Three examples of sparks.

  1. The Staithes Area Sheds. A little less than a year ago there was an event celebrated with Totally Socially called Do It! It also marked the opening of the Whitby Women’s Shed – The She Shed. It was there that two Shedders (living in Staithes) asked about the possibility for there being Sheds in Staithes. Graham was reeling from the She Shed starting and the planning for a Whitby Men’s Shed to ease pressures on Sleights/Littlebeck Shed. “No way”, thought Graham (honestly!). But the seed was sown.That very same week an unexpected email arrived from a contact of Whitby Eskmouth Scouts higher up in the regional Scouting movement. It pointed to a funding opportunity for North Yorkshire by the People’s Health Trust. Guess what! Staithes was one of the priority areas for health related projects. Why not Sheds therefore? The seed was being watered and fertilised.

    Now the Staithes Shed is open, thanks to the People’s Health Trust, the Staithes Sports and Social Club (for premises) and a handful of new Shed pioneers. Thank you to the individuals who were sparked to think about the need and spot the funding opportunity. A couple of sparklersJ.

  2. Graham has long wanted to help youngsters in Whitby. Before SAMS was on the cards he proposed a simulated Work Experience project and took the idea to one of the Whitby schools only to discover that the work experience learning opportunities his two sons had benefited from greatly had been scrapped in 2012. Well, it was no longer a compulsory part of students’ education and thus it died. However, the idea (and a PowerPoint J) stayed with Graham.With the “success” of the Sheds in our area and Shedders’ grandchildren occasionally visiting a Shed, Graham asked the UK Men’s Shed Association whether they knew of Shed-like work going anywhere involving young people. By chance, UKMSA was just in preliminary conversation with an organisation called Volunteer It Yourself set up a few years ago to work with schools and NEETS (not in employment, education or training). VIY and Graham were in touch and quite quickly there was contact with Eskdale School (a chance meeting with the Deputy Head) and then Eskmouth Scouts (initially primarily for a project location needing a makeover).

    There have just been two very successful Whitby projects in Sleights (the Scout Hut) and Whitby (the Scout Hall). See the photos. These two projects involved a total of 30 youngsters in hands on learning. Fabulous. Really fabulous (see the Gazette article and comments by some of the students). Thanks also to Wickes who sponsor VIY as part of corporate social responsibility.

  3. Now back into the equation has come the work experience project (which was a much broader concept than DIY but included it). Thanks to another incidental conversation with a funding broker and the wish to continue the “VIY” investment, several parties are to work together on a new youth opportunity for 2019. An example of seeds of thought becoming fruit and providing seed againJ.These steps are part of one developing axis of work by some community catalysts. There are other community groups and networks pursuing nuggets of collaborative ideas so do view the above as unique. It is an example. However, it has been dependent on a network of trust between independent organisations who see the benefits of working together that crosses borders.

Actively building community is far from easy. Community can too easily drain away if neglected. Let’s all try to take a sideways look from what we are doing in “our silo” and see what constructive connections we can make.

So, the pictures. Beginning with the Before and After shots. Then, in no particular order, some of what went on including the fish & chips lunch!








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