The residents of Shiregreen in Sheffield have cause for celebration following the announcement that their local housing provider has been selected to take part in a ground-breaking community project.
Shiregreen Community Homes, part of leading housing and care provider Sanctuary Group, is one of just 16 organisations chosen to take part in the Neighbourhood Challenge – an initiative led by the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) with support from the Big Lottery Fund (BIG).
NESTA's challenge is designed to show how people, when equipped with the right skills and financial support, can work together to devise new and imaginative ways of tackling pressing social issues.
Shiregreen Community Homes – which manages 2,500 properties on the Shiregreen Estate in Sheffield – was selected from over 600 applicants and will be working alongside its residents and partners to address the neighbourhood's biggest challenges.
Priorities include empowering local groups to find solutions to local issues, improving communication and building new relationships across the estate, providing training and work opportunities for the community and developing social enterprise.
The Neighbourhood Challenge will also reward volunteering and help turn residents' aspirations into reality.
As part of the programme, Shiregreen residents will receive specialist training and gain the skills needed to develop an action plan which they will use to shape their future.
Colleen Eccles, Sanctuarys Project Director - Shiregreen, said: "This is a fantastic achievement for Shiregreen and is the start of an exciting new opportunity for the neighbourhood.
"We will be encouraging all local people with ideas and aspirations to get involved – grass roots innovation is at the heart of this initiative.
"We are hugely grateful to all of the residents who have shown their support so far and are looking forward to working alongside them, NESTA and our local partners over the coming months."
Phillip Colligan, from NESTA's Public Services Lab, added: "We know that the most innovative solutions to big social challenges are found when you harness the ingenuity and energy of communities and citizens.
"Shiregreen Community Homes has already shown that they can inspire local people to get together and take action on the things they care about. Over the next year we'll be supporting them to go even further, showing what can be achieved through people power."
Sanjay Dighe, Chair of the Big Lottery Fund England Committee, said: "The Big Lottery Fund is excited to be working with NESTA in a partnership which blends the best of innovation, a determination to support communities and people most in need, and a passion for learning.
Sanjay continued: "Neighbourhood Challenge puts local people in the driving seat giving them the space, the tools, the inspiration and perhaps most importantly the support they need to take that significant step forward in their local communities. We regularly see how such small steps can lead to BIG positive changes in communities."
Over the next 12 months, progress by Shiregreen Community Homes and the other 15 successful groups will be monitored to understand how community-led methods and micro-finance can generate sustainable community action.
NESTA will also evaluate which techniques are the most effective at increasing community action and what challenges communities face who want to do things for themselves.