Claire Baldwin is a Community Co-ordinator based in Holme Valley South. Claire spends a lot of her time talking to residents about their local area, how they feel about it and sharing ideas of what improvements they’d like to see.
This is Claire’s first blog about the Cinderhills project.
Hi, I’m Claire
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I often worked from Holmfirth Library and supported a baby weighing clinic at Holmfirth Memorial Hospital. It gave me the chance to meet and chat with local residents of all ages and backgrounds. People were connected by where they lived and their ideas about what would improve their area. The local park in Cinderhills, a remote area of Holmfirth, wasn’t suitable – it had become overgrown and untidy.
The start of ‘Project Cinderhills’
I set up regular meetings at the library. Parents of young children, an isolated elderly resident, and a woman who had left her job after a family bereavement all joined. We shared ideas for improving the park, how we could use the space better and who should be involved.
The Big Lunch
The group mulled over a few ideas before meeting with Andy Wickham, a volunteer co-ordinator with the parks team. That’s when the notion of hosting a “Big Lunch” was aired. This would connect communities and promote good mental health by sharing food and eating together. Local community groups and schools were invited to take part.
Word of the event spread, and the community pulled together. Local youth workers, school hubs and supermarkets all offered support by gifting the free use of a marquee, tables and chairs, use of outdoor games and donating food.
This provided an opportunity to discuss the park and led to a wider consultation, ensuring that the future of the park was right for everyone.
And that was just the beginning…
Held just before the pandemic hit, the ‘Big Lunch’ brought over 100 adults and children to the park. Some had previously been isolated or too afraid to leave their house. As a neutral space, it was a great opportunity for people to meet locals and chat to unknown neighbours. It also provided a chance to promote other support and services available including Community Plus.
Parks have an allocated fund to improve the park. The team met residents, created a design together and jointly consulted with the community to develop their ideas further to make sure the park was right for everyone.
The group continued to meet at a community café in Scholes Methodist church. They also arranged to meet Andy discuss becoming a ‘Friends of Cinderhills Park’ group. He organised meetings with other ‘Friends of’ groups to generate ideas and supported them to formalise the group.
Kindness of strangers
One resident offered to carve benches from donated logs, and the local Women’s Institute donated and maintained fruit trees.
What started as a group of five women sharing their concerns, led to a community event, new friendships, support and much more. I can’t wait to share their story with you.
I’ll tell you how the COVID-19 pandemic made us think differently, the positive impact it had on our initial plans and how the community worked together to kick start the Cinderhills project.