On 17 February, Lord Mawson OBE and Chair of Well North Enterprises visited the Reginald Centre in Leeds alongside colleagues from CHP, Leeds City Council, Well North Enterprises and Yeme Architects.
Lord Mawson was instrumental in the set-up of the widely cited example of an integrated community wellbeing centre in London, the Bromley-by-Bow Centre (https://www.bbbc.org.uk/ ). He is one of the country’s most renowned social entrepreneurs. He was joined by Amir Hussain, founder and CEO of Yeme Architects and Kris Mackay, a Well North Associate.
The visit, arranged by Leeds City Council, a joint tenant at the Reginald Centre, was to showcase the city’s asset-based approach to working with communities for health and wellbeing outcomes and to hear about the experiences of the Well North programme around their innovative and enterprising approaches to developing community spaces. Lord Mawson and colleagues spent some time city with senior leaders from health and care organisations hearing about challenges and opportunities for the city before heading over to Chapeltown, where the Reginald Centre is based.
After a tour of the building, there were presentations and discussion led by Lord Mawson and Amir Hussain around building strong communities. Topics discussed included how well do tenants interact with health centres, digital wayfinding and understanding how relevant signage can reassure people using the building. It was noted that people on the ground know best about what messaging works within buildings and that Leeds has a proactive approach to working with communities to make best use of local assets.
Councillor Mary Harland, Executive Board Member for Communities at Leeds City Council, who led the Reginald Centre visit said: “It was good to hear from Lord Mawson that Leeds is ahead of the game with regard to working together creatively. We will use the learning from this visit to develop our future Community Hubs and Libraries even further”.
Central to discussions was understanding how buildings could be more efficient and effective for both tenant and landlord. The discussion also explored short term projects/funding and community activities. The visitors agreed how it is important to ensure that projects have longevity and do not simply close after the funding ends, or rely on grants after. Further discussions covered how community organisations become social enterprises and become self-sufficient.
In terms of community activities, the bigger picture remains how skills are used and made sustainable after people have completed a course. For example, how does someone who has learnt a new skill put it to use effectively to go on and help others by setting up classes of their own, or making a business and career out of their learnings.
Emma Bolton, Area Director at Community Ventures Management and General Manager of Community Ventures Leeds, said: “It was fascinating to hear Lord Mawson talk about his experiences in developing the Bromley By Bow Centre, especially given work that we are currently doing in Leeds on Burmantofts Health and Wellbeing Centre.’
“It was also great to hear how impressed our visitors were at what at the partnership working going on in Leeds, and Reginald Centre in particular. We covered such a broad range of subjects in the session and it was really inspiring.”
Rachael Carter, Operations and Relationship Manager at CHP, added: “It was a real pleasure to help show Lord Mawson around The Reginald Centre last week, and be involved in the presentations from Leeds City Council. It was great to see our GP tenant at Westfield Medical engaging too. There were some very interesting ideas from Lord Mawson on community engagement and shared building use.’
“The conversation around property development was thought provoking and touched on areas we sometimes might not think about in our busy day-to-day schedules. For instance, having listened to the discussions around signage, I will now conduct a poster meeting with my tenants to see which messaging we need to prioritise so that the importance of each topic.”
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Wellnorth Enterprises https://wellnorthenterprises.co.uk/
17 March 2022