Tuesday, 25 May 2010

It's good to have a plan...

Though the Black Cat Centre is still between active homes, just thought that we'd put out a brief update, in that we have teamed up with local community activist Lawrence Buabeng and his brainchild, the Snowhill Skills and Enterprise Initiative, who has been busy at work for the last four years in the local area of Snowhill, putting in work along much of the same lines as ourselves, but grounded with the local community in a much more stable way.

See attached for his plan:


2010 – 2015



Executive summary

National statistics indicate that Snow Hill is in the worst third of neighbourhoods, with regard to the index of multi deprivation caused by low income, unemployment, and living environment.

The London Road has suffered from decades of poor planning decisions. It forms part of an arterial route that has a transient population, caused by the increase in multi-occupancy accommodation. There has also been a reduction in local services and business activity, due to the unfortunate practice of using retail units as residential accommodation.

The SHSEI is a social enterprise, set up in order to provide a locally-managed support infrastructure for the disadvantaged. The main objectives of the SHSEI is to help raise individual and collective aspiration, and to realise the untapped potential of the homeless, unemployed, ex-offenders, excessive alcohol and drugs users, and those with physical and mental health issues. The SHSEI will improve community cohesion, and develop community spirit by providing the following:
1.Accessible training, employment, and enterprise opportunities.
2.Volunteering opportunities for people to share skills and knowledge.
3.Increased and improved local community based services.
4.A structured programme of community activities and events for the benefit of all.
The SHSEI will adopt innovative approaches to dealing with entrenched social problems .Local residents, for example, have produced a series of short films about the area and its people, with the assistance of NESA (North East Somerset Arts). The film project was enthusiastically received and demonstrated the importance of collaborations between local and statutory stakeholders. The day to day management of the SHSEI will be undertaken by the community (Snow Hill Skills & Enterprise committee).
The creation of accessible opportunities in training, employment and enterprise is the primary purpose of the SHSEI. In order to achieve this we are in the process of developing projects and enterprises that open up possibilities for work, training, and volunteering . To this end, the SHSEI is consulting with local stakeholders to establish a Heritage/Regeneration centre on the London Rd, as an initial project, within the context of an overall plan to improve the locality ref. Alternative Vision for the London Rd and Snow Hill area (appendix 1.0).
The social, and economic impact of the SHSEI will be a reduction in, anti-social behaviour, as well as, the disparity between the affluent and the impoverished, in terms of health, culture, and prosperity. A comprehensive evaluation of the SHSEI has been conducted by Joan Geany - Local Improvement Advisor ref. appendix 1.2 SHSEI – Interim report.
In the present economic climate, self – employment is a very real option for those who find themselves, for all intents and purposes, to be ‘unemployable’. Developing confidence, leadership and team building skills will empower those who feel that they have been ‘written off,’ to return to the fold, and contribute to society by delivering cost effective public services.eg providing gardening and building maintenance service for elders.
Although the SHSEI seeks to be self sustaining in due course, it will require financial support from B&NES in the short term.

Aims and objectives
Ultimately, the goal of the SHSEI is to reduce the gap between the areas affluent and impoverished communities, with regard to health, cultural aspirations, and economic prosperity. The provision of , training, employment and enterprise opportunities, is part of an overall scheme to regenerate the London Rd and Snow Hill area. The intention is to engage disadvantaged groups in meaningful activities and projects, in such a way that they are better able to: identify and help meet their needs; asses their personal and social responsibilities; and enable them to participate more constructively in society.
In order to achieve the above, the SHSEI will embark on series of projects, designed so as to, help raise individual and collective aspirations:

Project 1 – Snow Hill residents film making project.
Four short films, produced by the SHSEI, and NESA, can be viewed on the following web link: www.ilovesnowhill.com
Snow Hill men
Out and about
News on the Hill
Festival on the Meadows

Project 2 – SHSEI Community survey
A street survey to be conducted by unemployed members of the SHSE sub-committee, in accordance with the guidelines set out by the LIA. The survey will ascertain specific needs and identify deficiencies. It will have the added benefit of inspiring confidence and developing the communication skills of those conducting the survey – all of whom will undertake public consultation training. The survey will also be used to further develop the case for using disused premises for training, employment, local enterprise, and housing for those in conditions of need
Project 3 – Design and implement landscape scheme for overgrown garden area; and repair grade II listed wall ( 4 Longacre)
The work will be undertaken by the long term unemployed under the supervision of a skilled stonemason and a BTCV ( British Trust for Conservation Volunteers ) team leader.

Project 4 – Heritage and Regeneration centre
The SHSEI is consulting with local stakeholders to begin the process of regenerating, and at the same time conserving and enhancing the neglected heritage of the London Rd area. These organisations move from the premise that the addressing of contemporary local issues, on a day to day basis, becomes the lasting legacy we leave for future generations. Engaging local people in their heritage, and the history of their area, can help foster a sense of community that is inclusive - celebrating all the stories of the people who live, or have lived in this key element of the City of Bath World Heritage Site.
Initially, we intend to establish a Heritage & Regeneration centre at No. 2 Caroline Hse. The premises is presently occupied by Shape Housing, and owned by Places for People (Preston). It has been confirmed that Shape intend to relinquish Caroline Hse altogether, but a formal statement to this effect has yet to be made. A breakdown in communications between stakeholders needs to be repaired if we are to make the most of the LIA allocated to the area. With the departure of Shape, the use of No.2 Caroline House (ground floor) by the community for heritage and regeneration exhibitions, will herald the beginning of the areas ‘brand’ improvement.
Exhibitions will be created with assistance from the BPT, who will provide: expert advice in relation to architecture and heritage; help with sourcing archive material and loan objects; and input into outreach events and learning programme. Regeneration consultation and public education will be achieved simultaneously. The Heritage and Regeneration centre will also be used to prepare the case for the development of No. 3 & 4 Longacre as a community managed Skills and Enterprise Centre (with reference to the Quirk Asset Transfer scheme).
No. 3 Longacre presents an ideal opportunity for a community project to renovate a grade II listed property as a showcase for illustrating how to adapt old buildings to become environmentally sustainable. An innovative approach to this project will deliver the following outcomes:
Increased employment and skills acquisition of young people in the locality
A restored No. 3 Longacre as a nationally important showcase demonstrating how to adapt listed buildings to reduce carbon footprint.
Building a sense of community and local ownership of their built environment, resulting in greater participation.
Improved public realm.
Strong and sustainable partnership between SHSEI , BPT and other key stakeholders.

Project 5 – Disused shop fronts – conservation and enterprise opportunities
There are approximately 445 grade II listed, and 55 grade I listed properties in the London Rd area. The conservation of disused grade II listed shop fronts is of historic as well as commercial importance. We hope to transform the London Rd into a heritage tourist attraction, using disused shop fronts to display archive material, that would otherwise be stored away from public view. The public profile, and audience participation of museums including the Building Bath Collection, No. 1 Royal Crescent, and the Museum of Bath at Work, will be greatly enhanced by having satellite displays on a major thoroughfare. The proposed improvements will be of benefit to Bath as a whole, enhancing a significant element of the World Heritage Site hitherto neglected. Working with B&NES Planning dept, and local landlords, we believe that regeneration of the London Rd area will help deliver the following five priorities (out of a total of eight) from the B&NES vision:
Improving the public realm
Building communities where people feel safe and secure
Addressing the effects of Climate Change
Improving the life chances of disadvantaged Children and Young People
Sustainable growth.

Project 6 – Snow Hill Skills and Enterprise Centre – community managed property development of No. 3 & 4 Longacre.
This major project, although ambitious, is intended to provide real opportunities in local training and employment. We are working with the architectural department of Bath Spa University and BPT to design and develop a comprehensive scheme for the two buildings. B&NES estimate for the cost of renovation works is £840K but if the buildings were transferred to the community, development and building costs could be dramatically reduced - it would be in the region of £150K - £180K.
3 & 4 Longacre have been left derelict for a number of years, they are owned by B&NES and have recently been put on the open market. There is a possibility of raising capital to purchase the buildings, however going through the process of a Quirk Asset Transfer may be the most appropriate course of action.
The ground floor of No. 4 Longacre and rear will be occupied by metal, wood and, stone craft workshops. The upper floor will house art and design studios with film making and performance space. An extension to No. 4 by adding another floor, will enable the provision of a cafe or a gymnasium.
No. 3 Longacre will serve as a support agency for training and employment and act as an information access point for housing or health issues. It will also provide IT courses, business support services for social enterprises(eg home care or child care), and office space for local entrepreneurs at minimal cost. A credit union or LETS scheme could also be introduced.
Detailed financial costings for this project are available in the Financial Plan section.

Corporate structure
The SHSEI will, in due course, become an independent social enterprise with charitable status. However, the long-term objective is to become a Community Interest Company with limited liability. The SHSEI will seek to address social inequality issues in relation to health, employment, and training by raising the aspirations and expectations of those on the ‘bottom rung ‘.

The SHSEI is actively consulting, negotiating, or working with the following stakeholders:
Better Bath Forum
Bath Social Centre
Bath Spa University
North East Somerset Arts
Bath Abbey Homeless Initiative
Genesis Trust
NHS – Robyn Pound
Snow Hill Neighbourhood Organisation
London Rd Residents Association
B&NES – Stronger and Safer Communities
Member of Parliament – Don Foster
Cllr Terry Gazzard – Heritage and Economic Development
Cllr David Dixon - Walcot ward
Job Centre Plus
British Trust for Conservation Volunteers
Local Improvement Advisor – Joan Geany (SWRIEP)
Somer Community Housing Trust
Places for People

Management and Accountability
The day to day management of the organisation will be undertaken by the Snow Hill Skills and Enterprise committee.
Snow Hill Skills and Enterprise committee (SHSEI):
Lawrence Buabeng (Chairman SHSEI)
Caroline Deakin (Company Secretary SHSEI – market researcher)
Ozzie Ffield (former director of Evaluation and Performance /Birmingham City)
Ian Parsons (Colonel British Army)
Tom Boden (BPT- Education and Audience Participation Officer)
Maria Morris
Ali Scrase R.I.P
Rodney McEvoy R.I.P
Paul Brooker
Andrew Lucas
Joy Gibbs
Yousuf Harwood
Steve (Bath Social Centre)
Matt (Bath Social Centre)

Members of the committee will have a single vote on all issues, with the . All profits will be re invested in the SHSEI or used to set up new social enterprises. The SHSEI committee meet once a month.
Personnel - competence / staff requirements
The members of the two committees have all the required skills and professional acumen needed to take forward this ambitious scheme. They also possess the necessary commitment, passion, effort of will, and desire to deliver- all of which are ‘qualitative prerequisites for success.
As a locally managed training and employment scheme, priority for jobs created, will be given to local residents. It will, however, be necessary to bring in people with particular expertise or specialism’s, on a sub-contractual basis.
Student Volunteers have an important role to play with regard to community development. The SHSEI is currently working with Bath Spa University to develop a programme of potential academic/vocational collaborations.

Products and services
The SHSEI will introduce its portfolio of products and services in four stages, over a five year period.
Starter learning projects.
Introductory skills demonstrations and taster learning sessions in art and design, stone masonry, furniture restoration, metal work, gardening, and community consultation.

Basic life and work skills session – healthy eating, personal presentation, health and hygiene, self-respect and community responsibility (active citizenship), punctuality, team work

Starter IT courses with maths and English

Provide local job search skills support, interview techniques, on-line CVs, etc.
Improvement of the SHSEI corporate logo will assist in raising the organisations profile. No. 2 Caroline Hse, presents itself as the most appropriate, immediate location. The community survey will identify those most in need of basic skills training, and will be used as part of the ongoing monitoring and evaluation process . Sessions for specific groups (elders, those with mental health problem, single parents,)will be encouraged.
Short term enterprise projects.
Local residents film making project in association with NESA

Employment agency for local small works – gardening, building
maintenance, window cleaning, domestic cleaning, dog walking

Landscape improvement of public green space, behind No.2 Longacre (Caroline Hse), and rebuilding of grade II listed wall.

Parks conservation and street cleansing – rapid response handy man service on behalf of Somer.

SHSEI Community Survey
Costings for the above projects can found in the Financial Plan section and are dependent on the outcome of negotiations with, Somer, B&NES, People for Places, and Shape
Medium term social enterprise projects.
No.2 Caroline Hse : Establish Heritage and Regeneration centre, to hold exhibitions about the area’s past, present, and future. The centre will also function as an internet cafe with wholesome refreshments provided.

No.3 Longacre : Snow Hill Skills and Enterprise centre (1) – a locally managed renovation and refurbishment of the premises will provide local employment and training opportunities. When the environmentally sustainable development of this grade II listed property is complete, it will house: starter learning programmes; job search support services; Citizens Advice outpost; information access point for housing, health, drink and drug issues ; dept and benefit advice; as well as, social enterprise and business support services.

No.4 Longacre : Snow Hill Skills and Enterprise centre (2) – this building is not grade II listed, and as such may be adapted to suit requirements. The property will house: furniture making
and restoration workshops; metal workshop; and stone masonry. The first floor will contain art and design studios; film making and performance workshops, whilst the proposed second floor extension will boast a healthy eating cafe and/or gymnasium

We are in the process of preparing funding applications for the above projects.
Long term social enterprise projects
Accredited training, employment, and enterprise development, support agency.

Accredited home care service for infirm, disabled or elderly.

Building and garden maintenance service.

Accredited childcare service.

Credit Union and Time Bank (LETS)

Conservation, recycling,graffiti, and street cleansing team

Architectural ironworkers and stone masonry team

Furniture making and restoration service

Car valeting service.
In order to achieve our long term goals, we will need to: carry out detailed market research, and analyse capacity requirements; develop individual plans, policies and procedures, risk analysis etc, for each enterprise ; work with partners to deliver qualifications in child care and home care; register with Job Centre Plus as an employment and training provider, as well as applying to PCT/Social services for home care contracts.

Quality control and statutory requirements
Quality control, monitoring, and evaluation
1.Recruitment induction and initial assessment
All members of the SHSEI will undergo a continual monitoring and evaluation process – paid staff, volunteers, and clients. This will ensure efficiency improvements in all its projects. The induction process will determine the career direction the individual hopes to pursue, whether it be basic IT competence, or self-employment.
2.Individual learning, work, or enterprise plan
The information obtained from the initial assessment, will be used to develop a personal training / employment programme.
3.Progress reviews
Continual reviews will help identify deficiencies in the organisation, or its personnel, indicating areas for improvement.
4.Assessment reports
Assessment reports will determine whether, the direction chosen by the individual, is the most appropriate one.
5.Achievement reports
Inspiring confidence and rewarding excellence is central to the SHSEI ethos
6.Progression reports
This report concentrates on the development to the next stage of an individuals training, employment, or enterprise plan.

National quality standards and charter marks
The SHSEI will work towards to meeting the requirements of the national quality standards listed below:
Matrix Quality Standard for Information, Advice and Guidance
Adult Learning Inspectorate (Accredited Adult Learning)
OFSTED Inspection for Youth
OFSTED Inspection for Nursery Provision
Health and Safety Executive
Investors in People
PQASSO – Visible Standards for Community Associations
Statutory requirements
Equality of opportunity legislation
The SHSEI supports, unreservedly, all the equality of opportunity legislation listed below:
Sex Discrimination Act 1975
Race Relations Act 1976
Sex Discrimination Act 1986
Employment Act 1989
Disability Discrimination Act 1995
Protection from Harassment Act 1997
Human Rights Act 1998
Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000
Special Educational Needs and Disability Act 2001
European Directive on Equality in the Workforce 2002
Employment Equality (Religion) Regulation 2003
Employment Equality (Sexual Orientation) Regulation 2003
Employment Equality (Sex Discrimination) Regulation 2005
Disability Discrimination Amendment Act 2005
Equality Act 2006
Racial and Religious Hatred Act 2006
Employment Equality (Age) Regulations 2006
Planning considerations
The SHSEI is in the process of negotiations with B&NES Planning Dept in relation to the renovation of No. 3 & 4 Longacre for community use. The buildings are designated for commercial use under the Local Area Agreement

Environmental and socio-economic impact
The SHSEI programme of activities and projects will dramatically improve the visual appearance of a part of the London Rd, which at present , manifests all signs of urban decay and social deprivation. The proposed development of No. 3 Longacre, is intended to become a nationally important showcase, for the environmentally sustainable adaptation of a grade II listed property.
The scheme is designed to have a positive impact on the long term unemployed, and other disadvantaged groups by providing accessible, and targeted opportunities for self improvement through collective endeavour.
For those who are dependent on drink and drugs, the SHSEI represents a work based rehabilitation programme.
The benefits to the wider community include the following:
Provision of improved, cost effective public services
Reduction in crime and anti-social behaviour.
Improved public realm.
A more vibrant local economy
Improved reputation and perception of area (image)
Conservation of Heritage of London Rd
Reduction in unemployment
Community cohesion
The SHSEI will document, audit, and archive, all the information of its activities in detail, for purposes of external evaluation and, verification of performance indicators."

This doesn't mean that the Black Cat has finished with its own brand or vision, but just that we recognise the value of mutual aid and alliance, in these hard times...

Thursday, 13 May 2010

New home? News to us!

Whilst the Black Cat centre folks have generally been happy with the somewhat enthusiastic coverage by local weekly rag The Bath Chroncile, the latest confusion/misinformation is somewhat mind-boggling, as, to the best of our knowledge (unless there are radical splinter groups out there?), the Black Cat is still currently without a home...:


"Monday, May 10, 2010, 13:57

Squatters move across the road

​Squatters who had been occupying the old Porter Butt pub have moved to new premises on the other side of London Road.

They were evicted from the pub - where retail chain Richer Sounds wants to open a new hi-fi store - on Friday but are now occupying Caroline House.

This is a property owned by Bath and North East Somerset Council which at one time had been due to be used as accommodation by social landlord Somer."