Thank you very much to Big Lottery Awards for All for our grant of £9906.00


Our Story

Houghton-le-Spring is at the heart of the Sunderland Coalfields which still feel the effect of the closure of the mines and the unemployment that followed .As part of bringing confidence back to the community we formed Acumen Community Buildings and took over the beautiful Grade 2* listed building, The Old Rectory from Sunderland City Council. Together we have worked hard to improve the facilities and develop enterprising actions to bring about change in our community. Since receiving our Big Lottery grant in January 2018, 18 social enterprises have started up or moved into The Old Rectory. These range from Gateway Wheelers who help people with disabilities go cycling and enjoy exercise, Special iApps who design apps to help children with disabilities learn to communicate, read , spell and do maths to Sugarfit and Time4calm who help people to improve their own health and wellbeing.

We’ve also opened up the building to the community. On our first open day, during Houghton Feast, over 3500 local people came to visit the Food and Craft Fair as well as the history displays. They have volunteered, given their ideas and helped us understand more of the history of the building and the issues in the area. As a result we now hold a monthly fair as well as special heritage events and are working to improve the environment and mental health issues. We held two days where we brought people together to look at how we can strengthen the community, work together to tackle issues and bring about positive change. We now have a vision of what could be and have already run a design sprint with community and local businesses such as Greggs to look at how to reduce litter in the area.

With £50,000 we could help more local voluntary groups and new social entrepreneurs turn their ideas into actions which can become sustainable social enterprises. We would employ a business coach and deliver more training and support. We want to create a more enterprising culture so that people feel that they can be part of the solution to local issues and get engaged by starting their own enterprise or supporting someone else who is doing so. For example, we have some amazing small groups in the area such as Friends of Rectory Park who work hard to keep parts of the gardens around The Old Rectory looking tidy so we are working with them to develop training in horticulture so that we can bring younger people into volunteering and cover some of the costs of plants and materials as well as a tutor. This will mean that more people will be able to enjoy the 8 acres of park that are owned by the community.

All of the ideas will be celebrated next October at Houghton Feast at our Social Enterprise Festival so that the whole town can be part of seeing the difference that people are making.

Bringing people together to come up with ideas, learn how to develop solutions and turn them into sustainable, enterprising actions is at the heart of everything we want to do. With the People’s Millions we could help Houghton become a great place to live.

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