Framework sections highlighted: Action, Change, Connect, Leadership, Power

‘Sincil Bank by the Sea’ community event brings unused space to life

Earlier this year Lincoln City Foundation hosted a regional Community Organisers networking event, bringing together people who had participated in the Introduction to Community Organising training, residents involved in community action and people interested in community organising to discuss and plan actions for the area. One idea, put forward by a previous one-day training attendee, was to hold a beach themed ‘Sincil Bank by the Sea’ community event, underneath Pelham Bridge, a derelict open space in Sincil Bank area of Lincoln.

The idea was presented to the group at the event and was agreed on as an action for the community to take forward, as a way of encouraging local people to get together and improve the local area.

A group of dedicated residents then ran with the idea and applied for funding to the Sincil Bank Community Chest for support with the event, securing over £1000.  Two leaders who were involved throughout the process were Barbara and Anne, who, with the support of their community organiser Alice, oversaw the planning of the event and led on the day.  Residents also took part in a clean-up day before the event, with local people volunteering their time to weed, sweep, and litter pick the site ready for the event the following day.

The event attracted around 200 local people and brought together the work of a number of community groups including Sincil Bank Maze Community Group, Bridge Church, Lincoln City Foundation, City of Lincoln Council, entertainers, stall holders, and volunteers.

Attendees of the event enjoyed sandpits with buckets, spades, and beach games freely available to pick up and play, face painting, and messy play, circus skills and a seaside themed performance from Rhubarb Theatre Company.  The audience relaxed and watched the show on striped deckchairs, enjoying each other’s company and the transformed community space.

Alice described how, since the event, perceptions of the area have begun to shift: “People are beginning to recognise the space where the event was held as a place where things can happen, whereas previously it was seen as an area where people would drink late at night, where people don’t really like to walk through.  Hopefully, these continued things happening are beginning to change people’s perceptions.  From chatting to people, you get the feeling that’s starting to happen.”

It was quite a powerful process for the residents to go through and see that they can actually do something in their communities and be the leaders.
Alice, community organiser

Alice also reflected on the effect the event’s success has had on the community’s perception of their own power: “It’s empowered the local community to be able to say, ‘we’ve got an idea’, and see it through to actually happen.  I think they felt quite overwhelmed on the day by how successful it was, and how many people came out and enjoyed it.  It was quite a powerful process for the residents to go through and see that they can actually do something in their communities and be the leaders.”

Along with leaders Barbara and Anne, another local resident, Sarah, who helped out on the day of the event, has emerged as a leader throughout the process of the delivery of the event.  Together, these residents have expressed enthusiasm for holding the day again next year.

“I didn’t push for anything, but they had a chat and said they want to do it again ‘bigger and better’, so they want to build on it and make it an annual thing,” said Alice. “That was really rewarding to hear, that they had not only enjoyed it but actually want to do it again, so clearly they really value what it has done for their community.”

[Photos by Nick Rawsthorne]


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