It's been a long time coming, but F.A.N Community Alliance are in the final stages of acquiring the lease on our very 1st building!!
We may not have signed just yet, but we plan to hit the ground running! Legal fees, insurance and licensing bills will be heading our way soon. On top of that, the building needs a fair bit of work to bring it up to community standard and enable public use. We know how much our members and supporters are impatient to get in there and start using the facility - Almost every day we are receiving calls and comments asking when it can be hired, when people can volunteer, when events and activities are going to start!
So lets get this moving quickly! Pledge today and help us cover the costs of getting this centre up and running for our community!
So, what's the plan?
The plan is to renovate a disused hall so that it can become a truly multipurpose centre that can cater to all the needs of our group under one roof. We are talking community film nights, clothes swapping parties, community cooking, pantomimes and shows, children's parties, bingo nights, coffee mornings, circus skills - a flexible hive of activity!!
But most importantly, this will be a base where people can come and learn about our group and it's journey and find support to follow in our footsteps, allowing us to create a strong network of neighbourhood groups that can share skills, knowledge and resources - reducing duplication and consumption while increasing financial savings and opportunities.
We want to really reach out to the community and make sure that people who are not online (which is a high percentage in our community) know what is going on, the things they can get involved in within the community and encourage them to share their own talents and passions - shaping the things that we can offer and adding vibrancy to the area.
What will the money be spent on?
Unfortunately, this is where we have to be a little vague since, until we get the bill for the legal fees and get in there to see exactly what needs doing we wont know how much we will require. However, we will be prioritising in this order:
- Legal fees & insurance
- A3 duplex printer (our current one is broken and this will be vital for connecting with people offline!)
- Painting & Decorating
- Premises License
- Security system
- Folding tables with storage
- Sound system
- Stage curtains & backdrop
- Stage lighting
- Cinema system
- Sturdy clothes Rails
We know we won't get all of this for £10,000, but it will be a good start and we intend to work in stages with ongoing fundraising until we get there!
Want to know more about F.A.N? Here's our story:
F.A.N was founded in 2008 as “Ethel Street Events Committee”, a residents group with the purpose of helping neighbours get to know each other and improve the lives of the people living in the street. Ethel St. is located in Neath East, an area scoring highly on the Welsh index of multiple deprivation. Anti-social behaviour, drug use and addiction, and fly-tipping were prevalent throughout the area. Although, actual instances of reported crime were not deemed high, police statistics showed that "perception of crime" was, and this lead to many people living in fear in their own homes and while out in the community.
Our 1st event was a full blown street party for Halloween. When we 1st started talking about it with our neighbours, we were met with “it’ll never happen”, “people won’t be interested”, “No-one does things like that anymore”. And yet on a bitterly cold, dark Halloween night (it was -4 degrees!!), not only did the majority of residents venture out, they came in costume too!! That was all it took for us to catch the community spirit bug – we started having meals out together, organising craft workshops, summer trips and much more. However, more importantly than the increased activities, people started trusting each other more, talking, and respecting both older and younger generations. People were no longer living in fear and they felt that had a support network around them. We became a family.
By 2010, we already knew that we were so much more than a simple residents committee, we were getting involved in projects in the wider community, and friends and family from outside the street had started to join in with us. We changed our name to Friends And Neighbours Community Alliance to reflect this and altered our aims to the following:
“We intend to create a community that is vibrant and bustling; where everyone feels included and able to participate; where people take responsibility and respect each other and their environment; where residents groups are encouraged to form; and where people have pride in, and ownership of, where they live.
We intend to create strong and resilient neighbourhoods where community spirit soars.”
We have continued growing and expanding the activities and projects we carry out – largely depending on the skills, ideas and passions of the people that join our group, everything from family fun days and woodland clean-ups to guerrilla gardening and charity fundraisers for local, national and international charities. Last year, we even took the lead on the Neath Community Christmas project, to help make it sustainable for as long as it is needed – which is one of our core values.
One of the best things about our group is the intergenerational impact we have had. Young, old and everyone in between, work together hand in hand to build this community and make it stronger. We held a community cooking event a few months back and every decade from the 1930’s to the 2010’s was represented by someone in attendance – it wasn’t intentional, we didn’t notice until we were looking back though pictures!
In 2012 we won one of 5 national Big Lunch Awards for the impact that we have had upon our community and are a case study for them in the hope that we can encourage people further afield to take the plunge and organise a neighbourhood get-together. However, it is our ambition to help create and support a network of groups closer to home so that knowledge, skills and resources can be shared. We all too often hear people saying that they wish it was like this where they lived, but as much as we try to explain that we grew out of a deprived area (best known for heroin addiction!) where people did not talk to one another, trust one another or care about the well-being of even the most vulnerable, our message has not got across. We are still working out of people’s front rooms, so it is difficult to invite people to come along and meet us, get to know how we work, the obstacles we’ve overcome and essentially inspire them! We have been working hard for the past couple of years to find a “home” for our group and we are almost at the last hurdle. Our community is buzzing with excitement and anticipation to have somewhere to call its own – I can’t even walk down the road at the moment without someone stopping me and saying something like “Have you got the hall yet? Let me know when you do I’ll come and clean for you”!
Our “Community F.A.N-base” project will enable us to create a permanent base for a group, transform it into a thriving asset for the community and help us expand and enhance our current activities. It will also help us engage with more people in the wider community, find and encourage community champions and help spread that community spirit bug!
We have a longstanding dream and you can help make it come true!