Helen Garforth, who has been appointed by the Big Lottery as the Big Local representative for Toothill, introduces herself .
As you may know, Toothill is one of 50 areas in the country getting started on the Big Local programme. With a £1 million investment over the next ten years it gives local residents the opportunity to shape and develop Toothill.
It is my role to support you and your local steering group over the next few months as you continue to discuss how Toothill can become an even better place to live, and as you plan how to make the most of the investment.
In early September I met the dynamic group of excited Toothill residents who have been getting things started and was impressed with what has been going on so far. The area has had a first grant of £10,000 to start residents talking about how they would like to see Toothill transformed.
This included funds for May’s Toothill Festival which was a great success, people coming together and enjoying a fun day of activities and the opportunity to discuss their dreams and visions for the area.
We’re now at the next stage, putting together a proposal for how to use a further £20,000 to start to develop those ideas and visions into a coherent community plan which will guide how the main investment is spent starting next year.
So Toothill needs you. You may already have voiced your ideas, but now is the time to work out how they could happen and how you could get involved. And if you haven’t yet had the chance to discuss your desires for your neighbourhood, there is still time. The steering group will be meeting again in October to continue planning, and there will be two ‘Let’s Go’ meetings in November to develop the community plan - watch this space.
And me? I live in west Reading with my husband and two children. I run a small business supporting organisations to make a positive difference to their clients or in the local or global community. This includes big charities like the National Trust, local charities like Voluntary Action Centres, and small community groups. I also work with local authorities – particularly supporting partnerships between local people and the organisations that plan and deliver services.
Working with Big Local will be a major focus of my work over the next few months. I am supporting another community in Southampton through the first stages of the programme as well, and am linked up with the other Big Local representatives around the country, so will be able to share ideas and information.
I look forward to meeting many of you in the near future. In the meantime if you have any questions about how the programme is developing, please feel free to contact me at: Helen@just-ideas.co.uk or call 07745 407434.
Tina Mackie of the Toothill Million Steering Group can be contacted on 07531692968.
• See stories and pictures of Toothilll Festival at: www.mytoothill.org.uk
Pictured: Helen Garforth, centre, with some of the Toothill million steering group, from left, Lindsey Poole of the Big Lottery, John Hill, Dennis Mackie, Pam Pixton, Tina Mackie, Martyn Cowell