Over the last year we have worked with 34 community projects helping to support them in making their ideas a reality. After realising there was a lack of existing provision for supporting community groups to thrive, we set up a project that aimed to support these projects in reaching their full potential through providing, training, mentoring and other support activities.
Since launching COGS in January 2018, we have provided 132 hours of 1-to-1 mentoring, supported 136 people with training and workshop programs and enabled the community groups we have supported to go on and secure £19,295. We have helped 8 groups form legal entities and shared their stories with an audience of over 2400 people.
Last November Harry went to Eden for a Community Camp where he spoke to Semble about the motivation and successes of COGS. This has since been put together in a video that Semble have kindly produced for us. https://lezl42zxsgtwivlm17ffd0dg-wpe
COGS has helped these groups build strong foundations and become ready and knowledgeable for applying for funding. This further strengthens the legacy of COGS which has and will continue to enable the community groups we have worked with to thrive. These Community groups are also now able to go on and share what they have learn with other community groups and workers, allowing them to improve their work and the multiplier effect to continue.
Those we have worked with have been able to develop their ambitions, improve quality and grow. As a result, the legacy of COGS will live on through the betterment of local communities and the greater impact of community groups.
COGS has also left its legacy on Cultivate Cornwall, we have learnt huge amounts from the project that we intend to apply as we go forward. We are now looking to develop a new project, similar to COGS but improved based on our learning and improved capabilities.
Our impact has only been possible thanks to the support of the Big Lottery Fund. We would like to take this opportunity to express our gratitude for the continued support from the National Lottery Community Fund as without this and their willingness to help and support us at all stages of the delivery of the project none of this would have been possible.
The COGS project has now come to an end and while we look to secure future funding that will allow to continue from the successes of this project we will in the mean time on a voluntary basis, continue to provide 1-to-1 support for anyone that is already or looking to work for the betterment of the community.
You can read more and see the video on the Semble website here
Semble Stories - Eden Community Camp - COGS
A Week of Swishing
Last week was a very busy week with two swishing events in addition to everything else we do in a normal week. But it was great fun, we met some amazing new people and almost 100 of you got the chance to swish, whether for the first time, or for some this was their 3rd or 4th time at one of our swishing events.
On Monday we tried something new, a swish in Truro. This is an area we have worked in very little so far. It was a brilliant introduction to a new audience with a great event, made possible by Epiphany House who we collaborated with, enabling us to bring Swishing to the people of Truro.
We had never been to Epiphany House before and what a venue it is! Their worked hospitality went above anything we could have expected and the venue was superb for such an eve, allowing us to use different rooms for different parts of the event which helped this event seem like the smoothest yet.
The people of Truro, and those that came from further afield, we feel that now would be the perfect time to thank you for all the amazing clothes you brought to Swish. It really is surprising what we have in our wardrobes that we don’t wear, you certainly surprised us with the quality of the clothes you brought and shared with others. It is great to see our clothes getting a new lease of life.
Then was par, and again you all came out in force, though I am pleased to say that this time we actually managed to stay on top of the que. Now we have done a few in different places it has become clear that in par the events have a very different feel. Par seems to be much more fast paced, though I would say that that helps create a really enjoyable atmosphere. You definitely keep us on our toes but we do have a lot of fun Swishing in Par.
The event in Par saw John and Harry for the first time take a step back from running the event which was great, allowing us to pass over control to the community who we had aimed to support. We want to pass on a huge thanks to everyone involved in the event for taking lead and using their initiative. It frees up our time so we can focus on growing the activities we offer whilst also supporting the development of skills and inclusion for all involved. A huge congratulations to everyone involved, the event was problem free and its great to see so many people stepping forward to help drive us forward!
Last week across the 2 events 340kg of clothing was swapped between roughly 100 people, workshops were provided to keep kids occupied allowing parents to relax and enjoy browsing while, Anna’s repair service helped give otherwise unloved clothes a new life. Loads of business cards were handed out so hopefully some more of you are now connected with us, making it easier for you to find out about future events. Finally, we have committed to running another swish in Par in January so, watch this space to stay updated and make sure you don’t miss out on our next Swish!
We are hoping to run 1 swish event every month in the new year so if you have any feedback on the events so far, we would love for you to get in touch.
Last week saw us step outside of our comfort zone when we visited London. It’s not often that we get out of the county but having being shortlisted as a finalist in the Groundwork Community Awards we were kindly invited to attend the House of Commons for the Awards Ceremony.
What an event it was, starting with a tour of Parliament we were then taken to the Strangers Dining Room for the ceremony. The room was filled with MP’s, Businesses and the 30 community projects that had been shortlisted as finalists and what amazing projects they were.
We had been shortlisted for an award for Best Community Partnership with Business, and though we didn’t win, we were delighted to see Bridgman & Bridgman get the award for their impactful work. For us, as such a new project, just getting recognised by being shortlisted was more than we had ever expected and to say we were proud, humbled and delighted to receive this recognition for our work was an understatement.
The event for us was more than just an award ceremony and has helped us progress our work as a result of just being there. We met some amazing people there, in addition to the Groundwork staff we met Environmental Plymouth (winner of Best community group contribution to environmental sustainability), Givewith who sponsored our award and many others who we will surely be working with in the future.
The whole experience was hugely inspirational and has helped inspire new ideas and reenergised us giving the motivation to continue pushing our ideas forward whilst exciting us about future possibilities.
To make the most of our trip, before heading home the following morning we met with Nick Gardner, founder of Semble (previously Project Dirt) to discuss our ideas and their possible involvement in some projects we are working to create for next year. Nick loved what we were trying to achieve and will be supporting us in making them a reality which completely blew us away.
So, from our mad 24 hours in London we came away with so much more than we had ever expected, even if it meant coming away without an award. We met some amazing and hugely inspirational people, we formed business relationships and we set out plans for how we want to grow next year and got on support that will help us make it a reality. Really, we couldn’t have asked for much more.
Over the last month we have been working with students from Falmouth University and they have created a film for us that highlights some of our work.
A quick update on our workshops and events.
We have just finished the workshops in Bodmin on Dignity Bags where over the last few weeks people came together to learn how to sew a bag with a real purpose. The Dignity Bags will be filled by the makers with essential items and toiletries and distributed through the foodbanks. We loved working on this project and we hope to do more in the new year if people would like to join in, All ages and abilities welcome and we will supply everything to make the bags.
Our workshops in Par / Cornubia are going really well and there are still 2 Thursdays left for you to join in. These sessions are again bag making but a different style and these will be used for essential items for the childrens clothing bank here in Cornwall. The need comes through a referral system and agencies across Cornwall and we are very happy to be able to help the fantastic work they undertake. We have started to distribute them and more are needed in the run up to Christmas and again in the new year. You would be very welcome to join in on the last 2 sessions planned for this year and we are also on the look out for sewing machines to help us continue the great work and to be able to keep up with demand from you guys to join in. If you have a spare machine and would like to donate it to us then please let us know and we can arrange collection / delivery.
We have a Socially Social network event planned for Tuesday the 13th November - 7 - 9pm and aimed at Social Enterprises and Community Groups where we can come together and meet like minded people, share stories and inspiration and maybe meet people who will be able to help build stronger communities.
And then we have the Christmas Pop up Market in Honey Street on the 8th December. This is aimed at promoting youth Enterprise and social good causes around Bodmin. We are busy planning the day and we do have space for 2 more traders so if you think you fit the description then get in contact and find out about joining in. There is no cost to trade as we know the barriers that many young people face when trying to start up something and that costs can often mean exclusion.
We have swishing in Cornubia on the 1st December and last time we attracted 107 people and nearly 1/2 ton of textiles! Not sure that will happen again but we can assure you that we will have fun, music while we swish and free tea and cake to help the day along. If you are unsure how swishing works then just pop along and find out, oh, and bring a bag of clothes to swap!
We are also finalists for 2 awards this year, first is Cornwall Sustainability Award and the 2nd is a finalist for a Groundwork Community Award in the Best community partnership with business category. We have been invited to join the awards ceremony, to be held at the House of Commons, Westminster, London. We are delighted to be finalists for these awards and it seems that our hard work and efforts are paying off through recognition.
We hope to continue building stronger, more connected communities in 2019 and we are working on some quite exciting stuff so stay tuned and watch out for our updates and how you can get involved.
We simply loved 2018 and we cant wait to get going on bigger and better in 2019.
We had an email today ...
Congratulations, I am thrilled to let you know that you are a Cornwall Sustainability Awards 2018 finalist!
The judges met today and worked through all the applications, carefully examining the merits of each one. The panel were blown away by the calibre of this year’s applications, which made choosing the finalists no easy task. In turn, this means that being a CSA 2018 finalist is a real testament to the quality of your sustainability work and your commitment to environmental growth.
We will let you know how we get on..
Last week we held our first big soup event, having trialed them in Bodmin, about a year ago we now felt this was the time to go bigger and better. That we certainly did! With £500 cash and 12 months of business support, training and mentoring provided by UnLtd up for grabs.
A community soup is an event where people come together to build contacts and share what work they are doing in the local community, all over a bowl of soup which was very kindly made and supplied by Keep Cornwall Fed who wanted to support the way we were bringing real community benefit. We find food to be a great starter of conversations so coming together in this way is an amazing way of building your network. This is followed by a number of pitches by community groups which the public then vote on, deciding who wins the prize money, and in our case the business support as well.
We wanted to make sure that the event would be beneficial to everyone who attended and not just the winner of the pitches so the event was not just about pitching ideas but also building connections and growing networks, helping us create a community of people working for the betterment of their communities that supports each other in taking leaps forward.
With SSE -School for Social Entrepreneurs, Par Bay Big Local, Eden Project Communities, local County Councilors among others in attendance the event also provided for the community groups and workers that attended the chance gain access to new opportunities and build their contacts, helping increase their capabilities as well as strengthening relationships between community groups and funders as well as promoting the support available that can help community projects expand their impact and potential.
The Group, Spy Squad, Gracefully Made CIC and Better Lives were the four groups that pitched at the event, for many of them this was their first pitching experience though, you would have never known. They were professional, clear and when questioned on their ideas everyone remained unflustered, an outstanding achievement in its own right. Weather they won or not, we are pleased that everyone found it a helpful experience.
Coming out on top of the vote and awarded with the £500 and 12 months support was Better Lives, a community support group for those struggling with mental health problems. “We are a new group which means this money will really lift us off the ground. We will be able to pay for training and DBS checks on all our volunteers instead of expecting them to find the money themselves.” said Jack, the founder of Better Lives.
“It’s important that our foundations are solid and our volunteers are looked after.” He added “The event was brilliant for all kinds of reasons but mainly boosted our confidence as a group and gave us a real belief in what we are doing. We gained some valuable contacts and the event helped us network for the future. An all-round pleasurable and motivating experience."
Jack says the support that has come from the soup was invaluable, as he prepares to facilitate the first public support group with the help of local volunteers this funding will allow them to focus on supporting the local community rather than trying to secure money to rent a room for their activities.
We are really happy that this event will help support a group like Better Lives and hope that the £500 will help them to achieve their ambitions. Jack done tremendously well, his ambition and drive to support those in his local community is inspiring and we hope that this result will allow him to take a big leap forward. We wish Better Lives every success with their Community Support Group, it's a brilliant idea and of course, we all have mental health so, good luck to them.
We want to help the people around us wherever possible and with a Community Soup we can not only support Community Projects with funding and business support but, we can also use this event to facilitate the building of connections, supporting others in working together for a greater impact. As a result we are pleased to announce that as this soup was of such huge benefit to those that attended, we now plan to scale it up and make even more of a difference, in Cornwall, with more regular Soup Nights and Community Networking Events planned into 2019."
If you would like more information about the soup nights, how to apply in the future or information about any of the groups who pitched for the money on the night then please contact us for more information.
And A couple of weeks ago we were approached by a fantastic org here in Cornwall and asked if we can help out in a time of need.
Little Wrens Wardrobe are a children's clothing bank for those in need and are based in Bodmin ( www.littlewrenswardrobe.co.uk ) and during the run up to Christmas they deal with a lot of referrals from social services and the foodbank among others.
This year they wanted to make it more personal, more uplifting to those receiving the essential items they deliver in their hour of need and this is where we came in and can help.
The need is for us to provide bags that Little Wrens can use when they pass over the essential items. Knowing the work we can do we were only to pleased to help and that we were asked. Our aim is to bring people together through textiles and this fits in perfectly with our aims. We can use this exercise to teach those who would like to learn, we can bring sewers together on a more social side and we can help people come together in ways that can combat loneliness and isolation while helping others in need.
We have put together 6 workshops over the next month to start things off. We provide the space, the machines and the materials to make the bags. Some of the materials we have been using are Liberty, William Morris Inspired fabrics and a whole host of good usable fabrics we have been stashing away for just this kind of purpose.
The first workshop session was on Thursday 25th October and will continue for the next 3 Thursdays at Cornubia in Par. ( Contact us for more information.) In addition and through another group of ladies who wanted to help out with the bags and aimed at tackling period poverty we have 2 workshops sessions in Bodmin on the 30th October and the 6th November. These Tuesdays sessions will be held in the Community Hub at Kinsman Estate and we will provide all materials, machines and refreshments for those that join in. All abilities will be made most welcome and our skilled teachers will have you making bags before the evening is finished. If yo uare an experienced sewer then you will also be most welcome and we do need as many bags as we can make.
Our first session brought in 11 people aged from 11 to 72 and we made 15 bags on the evening. It was fun, full of purpose and they all want to come back next week.
As part of a course I went on in April, I helped volunteer to run a Swish event in Sheffield. I knew then that this was something I wanted to replicate on my return home to Cornwall. The event was amazing! Run by Common Thread, their Swish was run monthly attracting as many as 100 people each time. The spirit of joy and support that brought the community together around a topic that I am particularly passionate about… sharing. I loved it and I knew you would too.
On my return home I know I had to find a way to make it work in a way that would be supported by the local community and also worthwhile for us. It took until September but, finally, our first Swish, held in Par on the 29th September, and what a success it was.
1 pm had arrived and it was time to open the doors, my first surprise a que of almost 50 already waiting to come in, with clothes to swap by the binbag, any previous concerns around if the support for the event was there was instantly shattered and in all 107 people turned up, not bad for our first swish, even if I do say so myself.
The rails were full, the atmosphere was buzzing and the people were great, helping out where they could. We could not have done it without the helping hand of volunteers and attendees, so thank you. The challenge was getting everything out on the rails fast enough, with so much more clothing than we had ever contemplated the pile was certainly getting out of control at times but, eventually, we caught up with the staggering 452kg of clothes that came through the doors.
Considering everything we learnt from our first Swishing Saturday, we are now ready to use everything we have learnt to make the next events even better. With that in mind it is with absolute delight that we can announce the next Swishing Dates which are Saturday 3rd November in Bodmin and Saturday 1st December in Par.
Our next Swish will be in Bodmin on the 3rd November. Contact us for more details and how you can take part.
One of the last events we took part in September was a Youth Exchange on an Erasmus + trip to the Czech Republic.
We had the great chance to take 4 young people out to to spend 8 days with 26 other youth from around Europe.
The topic was Sustainable Development and again the knowledge these people had on sustainable futures and development was amazing.
We were a mixed group but had one thing in common; the desire to make a better future.
We took an artist, 2 musicians and a chef who mainly cooks for refugees and the homeless and we found each could share experiences, teach new things and work together brilliantly especially when it came to their presentation to the group.
The week was spent learning about other cultures and countries including Poland, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic and us from the UK.
We shared knowledge, gained new insights, made agreements on actions we would take forward, realised the problems faced were not so different from country to country and came away feeling that the youth have the chance to make change.
The exercises we took part in were all run through non formal education and were delivered in a very professional way that often you totally forgot you were learning. The facilitators had years of experience in delivery and this is one of the best projects we have been luck to be in partnership with.
We will be involved with more in the future we hope, both training programs and youth exchanges so if you would like to be involved in the future either in the UK or in Europe then please contact us.
Our blog is designed to keep you up to date on Cultivate Cornwall news and all the different projects we are working on.