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Stronger Communities

Yorkshire Housing’s neighbourhoods team is helping residents in a North Yorkshire town run their own services.

Staff at the housing association’s Skipton hub have joined forces with county council officials and local residents to deliver a Stronger Communities initiative.

It follows concerns that the loss of certain facilities has left some areas isolated.

For example, the Greatwood and Horseclose estate in Skipton has seen its pub and two shops close over the last few years.

There has also been a reduction in public services, particularly mental health provision.

Yorkshire Housing was already helping by organising healthy eating and healthy living classes at the estate’s community centre as part of a scheme called Craven Nurturing Neighbourhoods.

North Yorkshire County Council then launched its Stronger Communities project, which saw the authority and Yorkshire Housing team up.

The focus of this initiative is on the county’s Craven district, which includes Skipton, Settle, Bentham and Sutton-in-Craven.

Michael Hewson, neighbourhood services manager for Yorkshire Housing in Skipton, said the schemes dovetailed and so they joined forces.

He added: “We’ve been quite active in community activities for a number of years and they wanted to tag on to us because we share some common aims.”

The aim of Stronger Communities is to identify local solutions and give residents greater collective control of their own wellbeing.

Priorities include:

  • Community libraries;
  • services for children, young people and families;
  • community transport;
  • and services for adults and older people.

For example, the Greatwood and Horseclose estate is on the outskirts of Skipton, making it harder for elderly people or those without a car to get around.

Yorkshire Housing has just under 400 properties there, making it the company’s largest single collection of homes.

Stronger Communities is working in tandem with a third initiative called Looking Out for Our Neighbours, which aims to combat loneliness.

The schemes, though separate, are aimed at celebrating community life and increasing social connections in Craven.

Michael said: “In terms of community development, I believe in a bottom-up approach, giving people the confidence to set their own agenda.

 

“With a top-down approach, when organisations do the work, what you find is the service dies if the organisation withdraws.

 

“Here, we’re encouraging communities to take responsibility on their own terms.

 

“Where organisations do this for people, often the service provided can by X, Y or Z, when actually they really wanted A, B and C.

 

“So this is a way of getting people involved in their community and providing the things they want.”