Today is a grey autumn mizzly day and a good day to pause and take stock of what WADT has achieved so far. We have four themes we work to with our efforts to make a difference in Weymouth. Social, economic, environmental and working in partnership.
I am working an article about our Connecting People Weymouth project (Social). We partnered up with Dorset Superfast and 21 local people have stepped up to be trained as Digital Champions so far, and have started to help their neighbours with staying safe online, how to use the internet for health advice, making appointments, applying for jobs or benefits, or translating important stuff if your English isn’t great. 11 Weymouth residents have benefited so far and our target is 100. If you are interested then get in touch. We raised funds through Awards for All Big Lottery.
I am writing this in the Starfish Enterprise CoWork Hub, on the Weymouth Peninsula (Economy) Our first social enterprise as a not-for-profit opened in June 2018. The Development Trust invested start up funding into the project and negotiated with the Weymouth and Portland Borough Council for start up space in the old Ferry Terminal. There is a quiet buzz today and the smell of good coffee. Brightly coloured chairs, white desks and pools of light from the desk lamps make it look cosy. On the other side of the room an interiors designer working layout graphics, another person is coding a website for a solar energy client, and another is wired up to headphones whilst providing online and telephone ‘tech’ advice to companies all around the UK. In reception, the Business Host, Hayley, is emailing one of our ‘walk ins’ who she has been advising on how to franchise. Upstairs a training social enterprise has a small group of ‘supported interns’, young people working on ’employability’ skills whilst in another room the trainers are working on a programme for adults getting their Construction Safety Skills certificate. A programme for start ups and new businesses should run in the Spring 2019, and we are planning on developing a Centre of Excellence for SMEs in a coastal town project, to give all our towns businesses access to locally delivered top class training, work space and advice and guidance.
Tomorrow, we will take part in a workshop with the Team Around Melcombe Regis, a group of people from the local council, local community groups and residents and organisations like us, trying to work out the best way we can work together to improve things round here. We believe strongly that collaboration is a stronger base for working to get things done than competition, when our focus is to find solutions to problems. So looking forward to that and we will try and put the plans online. Either here or on Dorset for you.
We have applications in to attract grant funding into the Town. We have cowritten two ‘big ones’, for £3.5 million to the Coastal Communities Fund (awaiting decisions but they are three months late) and also to the Dorset LEP. Again in partnership with the Weymouth Coastal Communities Team, which includes the Weymouth Bid, the Weymouth College, Weymouth and Portland Borough Council and Dorset County Council and the Chamber of Commerce. We have been waiting so long now for decisions I have run out of fingernails, but should have news before the end of October 2018.
Other projects we are exploring. Raising funds to buy the Clipper building to use for social enterprise and community, but the owners are not sure what they want to do with the building so we are waiting on them. A Community Resource Centre where you and your school/charity/not for profit can hire equipment for events or just for running your business. Also a Tourist Information Office for Weymouth collaborating with business community and Weymouth Bid and the local College. We could do this, but then the new Town Council might want to do this next year, so should we wait? Maybe you have an idea we should explore?
All this, in 18 months, because a group of residents got together to make a difference.
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” Margaret Mead.