IntoBodmin is a Community Interest Company with a vision to “to revitalise Bodmin through celebrating culture and empowering communities” and as part of their long-term strategy for developing infrastructure and community capacity, they became a Social Action Hub. We spoke to their Director, Fin Irwin to find out why.
What is IntoBodmin and what do you do?
IntoBodmin started working out of a Grade II listed Old Library in the middle of town in 2017, and celebrated purchasing the building in 2023 following a huge fundraising campaign that secured £640k of investment with funders including the Architectural Heritage Fund, Arts Council England, and the UK Government through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund.
The organisation looks to bring the community together through cultural activity. Our definition of ‘culture activity’ is simply anything we do with other people – clubs, workshops, theatre, music, community events – we do a little bit of all of those things. Our flagship project is our venue, which is the Old Library in the middle of town, and we’ve just raised enough money to buy it off the council and refurbish it. In that space we have a community café, which doubles up as a venue in the evenings, we have spaces people and groups can rent out, a co-working space with hot desks as well as a community garden out the back.
Why did you want to become a Social Action Hub?
We became a Social Action Hub because we see ourselves as a hub in the town and also regionally in Cornwall, where we engage with other community organisations and spaces. As an organisation, we want to support more people and interact and engage with more people and groups. We felt that working with Community Organisers by becoming a Social Action Hub would give us insight into how to do it well, offer us additional networks and support and give us credibility – like a ‘kite mark’ – by being endorsed by an external body.
What training did you have and how did you find it?
We did the Introduction to Community Organising and Listening Skills for Community Organising courses with a group of community activists who had signed up to six-month programme called Bodmin Changemakers. The work that Community Organisers does is brilliant and it came highly recommended by other people who have done the training. A mixture of Changemakers and staff attended the online courses. We found it hugely beneficial. Firstly, by reaffirming what we are already doing, but also by expanding our inspiration and giving us new ways of doing things.
Why did you want to use the Community Organising Framework?
We wanted to use the Community organising Framework because we like trying to define processes and methodologies in how we work – it helps us to evaluate and demonstrate social impact. Working through a process or methodology can help us explain to other people who might not already understand what we are doing. The model helped us break what we are doing down – we already do a lot of the steps in it but didn’t realise we did. As a team, looking at the Framework together was really useful to frame what we are doing and how we are doing it.
What’s next for you as an organisation?
We will shortly be moving back into the Old Library after its six-month closure for refurbishment. We have already got a lot more interest in people wanting to use our spaces. We have decided to expand our community café offer to five days a week, so we are recruiting more members of staff. We want that space to be a ‘buzzy’ community hub open all week with 24-hour access to the building. In that new space, we want our staff and volunteers to be more effective in listening and responding, so as we evolve and develop projects we are genuinely doing it in response to what people are telling us they want and need. So being able to provide the Framework and training for new staff and volunteers will be really key in creating that team where we all know what we and everyone else is doing. It will also make sure we are able to effectively communicate our story whilst listening and building in new ideas.
What would you say to an organisation considering becoming a Social Action Hub?
I think any organisation should be wanting to work with the people that they are serving. Whether that’s a really specific community or a wider community, it’s really important to be able to listen and respond and evolve and develop and grow in a way that is relevant and useful to the community. Working with an organisation like Community Organisers helps you to really hone how you do that and to find ways in which you can effectively listen and act and move things forward. I think that’s really valuable for any organisation, not just those in the community sector.
To find out more about IntoBodmin, please visit their website .
More information on how your organisation can become a Social Action Hub can be found here.
If you are considering joining the network, do get in touch for an initial conversation using email@example.com.
Hear Fin talk about why becoming a Social Action Hub is important