10) Opening up space in the community: Community Connections (Great Yarmouth)
What space do they have and who uses it?
Community Connections (Great Yarmouth) have a meeting room at their central office, which
is often made available for external groups t
o meet, run a workshop or provide their service to
the community such as a small Credit Union. They also provide ‘hot desking’ at a minimal
charge for groups with a small amount of funding to contribute but not enough to find
alternative space at a reasona
ble cost. ‘Hot desking’ enables groups to function with access
to a desk and if necessary computer and Internet access.
Why do they do it?
Community Connections are a community development organisation and one of the aims
behind the setting up of the org
anisation was to provide support for community initiatives.
Sharing their space is a way of doing this. They get many enquiries from the community
wishing to access affordable space and consultations have identified what they need in terms
of space, such
as affordable or free, accessible and safe. There is a real lack of affordable
space in the town for use by community groups.
How do they do it?
The organisation has all the relevant policies in place, such as Health and Safety and Equality
, and a complaints procedure. Public liability insurance is in place, and they carry
out risk assessments to ensure that the space is safe. They know the groups they work with
and would not let the space to any group likely to exclude people. Having loca
helps Community Connections’ staff identify where there might be any cause for concern.
The Community Development team is ‘hands on’. They provide the advice and practical
support to groups using the space, for example, in helping them set
up and carry out their
own risk assessments. This enables staff to answer any questions from groups as they arise
and they are able to identify anything that needs changing or improving. They can discuss
issues such as confidentiality and appropriateness
for people with disabilities.
Groups that use the space regularly can have a key. Alternatively, one of the Community
Development team works outside office hours to lock up the building.
What difference has it made to the organisation?
n has developed its knowledge of the issues facing groups and their
difficulties in accessing space. This enables them to keep a look out for, discuss what
space is available and at what cost so that this information can be passed onto the
community when t
It also enables the organisation to meet its aims and objectives in supporting people
and groups to develop their ideas into initiatives that benefit them and their community
It has also made a difference to the organisation‘s medium to long t
erm strategic plans
to acquire a building with office space and a community innovation centre to meet the
needs of its diverse community
What difference has it made to the community?
Over the years some of the groups CC have supported have been able to
develop and move into
larger premises with some becoming fully fledged organisations in their own right
It has enabled others to explore their ideas and plan for future development to meet
their changing needs, acquire funds to move into larger space and
grow their groups
There is a strong element of capacity building and community empowerment as a
result of working closely with the grass roots groups
By providing space for groups to meet CC are helping to unlock the potential of the
community to do thing
s for themselves, and make a contribution towards building
Three top tips for making it work
Get to know your groups, understand their needs and motivation for what they do. If
there is a need to promote your space in the community, put in
place a sliding scale of
Have policies in place so that groups are clear about what they are signing up to
Where it is possible to offer guidance and information about access to other services
e.g. training, advice in setting up their groups, fundi
ng, etc. make this available
Trish Aydin, Chief Executive
Community Connections (Great Yarmouth)