Blacon Community Trust, a social enterprise in Chester offering a wide range of community-based activities and services, all focused on ‘Building a better Blacon’, is the latest winner of Prime Minister’s Big Society Award.
Set up in 1984, the aim of the Trust is to build a better area by involving its 16,000-strong community in finding solutions to local problems. As well as providing education and welfare support to children, young people and their families, more innovative projects include a furniture reuse project, minibus service for elderly residents, a programme to encourage cycling and a research project involving six universities to reduce energy use for Blacon as a model for other UK communities.
Successful Summer and Winter Festivals organised by the Trust are seen as important annual events for the community attracting over 4,000 visitors. Blacon Community Trust has also led residents in taking part in Sustainable Blacon’s Low Carbon Communities Challenge, a national scheme funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change to reduce energy consumption. Estimates show household energy use has fallen significantly in the first year. Last year 102 volunteers were engaged in their sustainability work alone.
Blacon Community Trust was nominated by Cheshire West and Chester Council, recognising and supporting all of the hard work that the charity has supported in transforming Blacon over the last 27 years.
The Prime Minister said:
Blacon Community Trust has worked incredibly hard to transform the area, engaging local residents and organisations, and building a real sense of community spirit.
Through its wide range of services and support for innovative projects such as Sustainable Blacon - showing residents how they can cut their energy bills as well as helping the environment - the Trust has shown how a strong community can make a huge difference, and have absolutely succeeded in their aim to make Blacon a better place to be. Congratulations to everyone at the Trust, the volunteers and the whole community. They are a fantastic example of what the Big Society can achieve.
Welcoming the award, Clare Babbs, Chair of Blacon Community Trust said:
It’s an honour for Blacon Community Trust to receive the Big Society Award from the Prime Minister. Blacon Community Trust has worked very hard recently to ensure sustainability. It’s great that the drive and commitment of the residents, volunteers and organisations working in Blacon, together with that of our staff, has been recognised. Blacon is a brilliant community to live and work in. It has real heart. Organisations make things possible but it’s local people here that make things happen - and keep them going.
Presenting the Award at the Sustainable Blacon Convention, Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said:
Blacon Community Trust and Sustainable Blacon have shown us what can be achieved when local people are fully involved in making the decisions that affect their lives.
Their tireless efforts to sow the seeds of strong partnerships with the local community have reaped big rewards for people in Blacon - whether tackling abandoned vehicles, transforming local shops and services, or saving residents money through green upgrades to their homes. I congratulate them on their achievement and urge other community groups to follow their brilliant example.
Cheshire West and Chester Council Leader Councillor Mike Jones said:
This prestigious honour is being given because Blacon Community Trust is the Big Society in action. I would like to send Trust members my warmest congratulations for the honour which is testament to their tremendous hard work over the past 27 years, work which is renowned locally and nationally.”
Blacon Councillor Carolyn Graham, who is a board member of Sustainable Blacon, said:
Blacon has a strong tradition of community engagement and community spirit and this award recognises that this is the corner stone of what makes Blacon special. Congratulations to all involved.
Notes to Editors
More information can be found on the BCT website - http://www.blacon.org.uk/
On Sustainable Blacon (for its environmental sustainability work): www.sustainableblacon.org.uk
On the Big Society Awards:
The Big Society Awards were set up by the Prime Minister in November 2010. The aim is to acknowledge individuals and organisations across the UK that demonstrate the Big Society in their work or activities. In so doing, the aim is also to galvanise others to follow.
The award focuses upon three specific areas:
- Promoting social action - people being, and being encouraged to be, be more involved in their communities through giving time, money and other resources.
- Empowering communities - local people taking control of how things are done in their area and being helped to do this by local government and others.
- Opening up public services - public sector organisations and individuals demonstrating innovative ways of delivering public services and charities, social enterprises and private companies showing new ways of delivering public services.