AN INNOVATIVE scheme aims to unite groups and encourage the sharing of community premises and services across Rossendale.
It is hoped a pilot project can be set up to link the voluntary, community and faith sectors from Haslingden to Bacup and all towns and communities in between.
So far two discussion meetings have been held to discuss ‘more than medicine’ to look at how groups with community premises can work together to ensure the sustainability of the individual facilities.
REAL – Rossendale Enterprise Anchor Limited – is an organisation which has supported the community of Rossendale since 2008.
It encourages the sharing of skills and called together different groups to explain how the scheme could work.
Chair of REAL Hazel Harding said: “Organisations across Rossendale should be working more closely together, to increase their income, share some services and maximise the offer across the Valley.
“Although REAL has put forward this idea, it will be a collective of community groups that will lead it and take the idea forward.
“It’s about working together to meet need, to enable Rossendale and its people to flourish. By putting forward a combined offer, we hope to be able to attract significant funding to ensure the viability of all these centres.”
Already Haslingden Community Link, Veterans In Communities, Crawshawbooth Community Centre and Whitewell Bottom Community Centre have formed links.
Six ‘more than medicine’ events were held in Haslingden when patients with conditions including diabetes, COPD and anxiety and depression got to meet in an informal setting to discuss with experienced professionals and learn from each other.
Hazel said: “This was a huge success, and was like a mass consultation. It could be easily be replicated in another community centre to tackle issues that are prevalent to the local area.”
It is hoped that other groups that have their own facilities including the Doals Centre, the A, B and D Centre and the churches in Rawtenstall will also link up.
Hazel explained: “If three centres are running the same activity then they dilute the number of attendees, but if they work together then the courses will be well attended and more sustainable.
“There is community transport available to make different venues accessible for all and this is a way of ensuring the future viability of all the centres, which our towns and villages need.”
The next meeting is on Thursday February 28 at Haslingden Community Link at 4pm and voluntary groups interested are welcome to attend.
Once a partnership has been formed, the intention is to bid for funding for a Rossendale-wide pilot project.
If successful, larger funding will be sought to sustain the scheme and the Rossendale model could be then used as a template for other areas across Lancashire.
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