Thursday, 27 October 2016

My visit to Safe Regeneration at St Mary's Hub Bootle

I'm not sure what the collective noun for a group of Community Interest Companies (CIC) is; an enterprise? an innovation? maybe they should call it a hope of CICs. My visit to Safe Regeneration at the site of the former St Mary's School in Bootle definitely filled me with optimism. CICs are social enterprises that want to use their profits and assets for the public good.

I met so many different projects housed in and around the canal side site.  I was shown around by Jane Johnson their development manager and Su Grainger from the Community Choir 'Sing your Socks Off' . I met artists, dancers, mosaic makers, joiners, gardeners, bee keepers and people who described themselves as technology nerds.

I was very impressed with the group set up for people experiencing early onset dementia. I don't think I have ever encountered anything as positive or as successful in this area of work. I spoke with family members and those with the condition and they were full of praise for the group called Natural Steps, and the two women who set it up and run it.

There was also a cluster of technology based CICs including The Nerdy Gift Company who had lots of innovative ideas and Little Sandbox who run a technology club for youngsters. They had a 3D printer and in preparation for Halloween they had produce a pumpkin! Personally I prefer the ones you can eat. You could really feel the energy and imagination that drives these companies forward

 Another of the  technology CICs was Periscope Productions who are film/video makers. They had taken on a trainee, a young man who supported Tranmere Rovers-one of the few teams Southport FC have taken a point off this season . They were turning out  high quality films and were successful getting work from a wide variety of organisations from the public and private sectors.

The Periscope film Makers
One of the other focuses for their work is around environmental issues. Their poly tunnel and raised bed were clearly very productive but I was taken by the honey making operation and was delighted when they gave me a jar made by Boss Bootle Bees .

Safe Green Dream and the Boss Bootle Bees

There is land attached to the St. Mary's hub that opens on to the Leeds Liverpool Canal and, not surprisingly, there are ambitious plans to develop it. I was particularly pleased to hear about their ideas for housing including self build and shared equity. As a nation we have failed to develop options that allow people without capital to get on the housing ladder and to own their own home.

The parcel of land also includes a former pub and they have plans to open it up again and to develop a new enterprises including hotel accommodation. I would not be at all surprised if in a few years the Carolina Basin had become the preferred stopping off point for canal users making their way through to the Albert Dock.

As I hope you can tell I was thoroughly impressed by my visit to the St Mary's hub.

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