Community Exhibit
Rooftop community visit Learning new skills Val digs for Cumbria Shaun Williamson - stonemason


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Val Holden FRSA, Project Wrangler

Welcome to the community page. Right now, as the Founder Facilitator of a low-cost housing project, I'm hosting our web presence and administering our facebook page - all are welcome to join the facebook group. This project is in my home area and this work is entirely voluntary.

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View of Ulverston

Homes for UlverSton uses the shortened name H4US, which appears on our logo. We have decided to be a charitable Community Benefit Society, with a wholly-owned subsidiary Ltd Co. H4US is a Community Land Trust, which means that the homes we develop will be low-cost in perpetuity. It also means that membership is open to all who live in or have a meaningful connection to Ulverston in Cumbria. The group hopes that members will be able to develop their own solutions to the present housing shortage. H4US core values encompass good design, quality, environmental management, Alexander Pattern development and permaculture principles. Our commitment to low-impact homes means that we look to use as little as we can in terms of non-sustainable materials and we prefer energy-saving, fossil-fuel free homes. We encourage all styles from sleek and modern to rustic and we consider the existing urban environment, its fitness for purpose and its existing proportion and style when considering how to proceed.

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Here's a quick trip round the community project process. Like everything these days, it's well thought through... but who wants to do half a job?

Projects can come from councils and other bodies, but they don't have to! A member of any community can provide leadership. We can add the support as we identify need.

Ideas often flow from need. It's time to talk to other people in the same situation, share ideas and be critical friends. There's research to be done; is the need really there, is the research correct, what help can we draw on?

Who needs this project and how will each of us help to bring it about? A skills and needs audit, a public meeting, some press releases and tweets will attract the volunteers to create a project team.

We need a vision, shared values, ways of working and decision-making, ideas to add valuable extras like job opportunities, training, income. Time-scales, costs and partners need to be identified. It's time to schedule all the project requirements up to and beyond completion.

We'll look at grant funding, loans, qard borrowing, crowd-funding, community shares and philanthropy to put together a package that suits individual groups.

We revisit demand and undertake a feasibility study, then if we are confident we can deliver and break even (at least), that we have the location, the design, contractors and governance right, we shall take the plunge.

All projects must be tested against the objectives and targets as we go along. We also need to make decisions about changes, check spend progress and troubleshoot. We'll all be using terms like "mission creep", "optimism bias" and "gap analysis".

We shall need to keep a number of people informed about progress: those waiting to move in, the lenders/funders, the planning authority, other stakeholders. This can involve reports to committees, partners, volunteers, website updates, articles for newsletters, interviews and and press releases.

What went well? What can we learn from? Can we improve? Evaluation should be honest, bold and reported.

Time to enjoy the results of that hard work. We shall need to remember, as we go along, those who helped us from the beginning and invite everyone to the party. We hope to have unexpected successes to celebrate, too, and a forward plan in place for management and perhaps the next project...

Deliver on project outcomes:
I seek out those who have a strong background in adding value to projects. If you're looking to improve your area, train jobseekers, reduce your project's environmental impact and raise the profile of your area's heritage, I've done some of that with some first class professionals, gained plenty of experience and am ready to pull it all together to help you give your project the edge you want.