Welcome to the Whitley Bay 'Our Bigger Story' website. This is part of the multi media evaluation of 15 Big Local areas in England. The website is an opportunity to follow what is changing in Whitley Bay as a result of Big Local over a ten year period.
The aim of the website is to share the learning from everything that is happening in Whitley Bay with other Big Local areas and highlight what works in communities with a wider audience of practitioners and policy makers
Whitley Bay Big local Knit and Natter group is working with train company Nexus to create an installation for Tynemouth Metro Station exhibition space. It's not complicated...just large!
The Creative Civic Change project has been supporting people to be creative.
Whitley Bay Big Local pays for a local 'Tidy Town' caretaker to keep the area looking neat and tidy.
Making Spaces 'Signs of Life' project - the community garden next to the Big Local building hjas been spruced up.
During the pandemic, Whitley Bay Big local joined forces with Whitley Bay Round Table and Evan's Bistro to provide a hot meal every day to homeless people and those who were isolated.
Thursday morning volunteers help to make everyone feel welcome and valued through listening, chatting and supporting
Friday mornings and lunchtime have always been a special time at the WBBL building. Our Knitters and Natterers get together, and while the crafting goes on lunch is prepared. Many volunteers have pitched in to make this "stone soup" community lunch happen. Often someone will bring in pudding from home! There's a real family feel about Fridays..... and there's always plenty of soup for anyone and everyone!
The annual Whitley Bay Carnival usually features a spectacular parade and entertainment, and it attracts thousands of people This year plans were amended to keep the carnival going despite the lockdown. A series of 'how to' videos were streamed prior to the event to help people to make their own costumes and create decorations. The whole event was live streamed on the day - 23rd May.
The local paper covers the story of how Whitley Bay Carnival plans to go ahead despite the lockdown.
Getting ready for the Whitley Bay Lockdown Carnival - on line guides and publicity to make the event special despite the lockdown
The annual Whitley Bay Carnival usually features a spectacular parade and entertainment, and it attracts thousands of people This year plans were amended to keep the carnival going despite the lockdown. A series of 'how to' videos were streamed prior to the event to help people to make their own costumes and create decorations. This film hows costume making.
The annual Whitley Bay Carnival usually features a spectacular parade and entertainment, and it attracts thousands of people This year plans were amended to keep the carnival going despite the lockdown. A series of 'how to' videos were streamed prior to the event to help people to make their own costumes and create decorations. This film shows how to make puppets
Whitley Bay Big Local has joined with other organisations to coordinate the volunteers who have been making for the NHS. Hundreds of volunteers have donated fabrics, their times and skills to make pairs of drawstring laundry bags for NHS and care staff to take their clothes home from work. Pairs of hearts which are given to patients and families as a symbol of connection when separated have also been created. The collaboration between WBBL, North Tyneside Business Forum, Sixpenny Memories, Pink Spaghetti and Mendys has provided the safe coordination and distribution of the makes to hospitals, surgeries and care homes all over the region. The weekly online get together allows the makers to share their stories and build new connections.
Whitley Bay Big Local has teamed up with another local charity, Whitley Bay Round Table and has identified people in the Big Local area who were not receiving statutory support. The "Big Batch Cook" project has a chef preparing freshly cooked meals in the kitchen of a local restaurant and these are delivered to up to 40 local residents by a team of volunteers. The funding has come from Round Table and WBBL and local traders are supporting the project with huge discounts on their fresh produce. As well as a nutritious and tasty meal our recipients are looking forward to the daily contact with someone and we have been told that "just knowing that someone cares" is making a big difference to the mental health of some of our local folk.
The annual Whitley Bay Carnival usually features a spectacular parade and entertainment, and it attracts thousands of people This year plans were amended to keep the carnival going despite the lockdown. A series of 'how to' videos were streamed prior to the event to help people to make their own costumes and create decorations. This short film shows how to make a 'rap'
Whitley Bay Big Local invited a goat to join in its 'Happy to Chat' online session.
Sunday Roast...prepared at Evan's Bistro as part of our #bigbatchcook project with Whitley Bay Round Table. Another 36 meals delivered with a smile and socially distanced chat with our new friends!
Due to social distancing we have not been able to hold our weekly Knit and Knatter session...until today! We created a facebook event with the zoom meeting link and also sent out personal invitations to those we hold contact details of. I expected to have to give lots of technical support , but actually it all went quite smoothly. The session was only due to last 40 minutes as we were just using the free app, but this was extended ... and the group stayed together for two hours! They shared their projects, shopping tips, how to make face masks, exercise videos and their sense of community and love! We're going to meet up weekly and are working at ways to remotely train those who aren't so "tech savvy" so they can get in the frame too!
We tried to keep our new community building open as long as we possibly could, recognising that some of our more vulnerable people would quickly become isolated- but as time and circumstances moved on so rapidly we very sadly decided that to keep people safe, it was the only measure we could take. Regular sessions were cancelled, a child's 6th birthday party-cancelled, chances to learn, meet people, share skills and belong all cancelled! The challenge now is, how do we maintain the great relationships we have built up with local people? How do we help people stay connected with each other? How can we can work with other organisations to give practical support that will be needed? New challenges for everyone!
WBBL's Community Involvement Coordinator talks about their Small Sparks grant programme.
We want to share with you the launch of "Happy to Chat", one of the projects we are working on with some Reducing Isolation funding that we received from North Tyneside Council. It's been great to collaborate with VODA and North Tyneside SIGN to bring the work of our volunteers together to launch this scheme. We'll be recruiting cafes and other venues to host happy to chat sessions and display their Happy to Chat badges in their windows to make everyone aware that they are a friendly space. We are every grateful for the funding which has enabled to launch this project in a very professional way. Copy this link to view our launch video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eCXpe8_bp5U&feature=youtu.be
A November 2019 article from our local paper, The News Guardian, about WBBL's new building.
Alan Dickinson talks about Whitley Bay Big Local and his time as Chair which ended in September 2019.
Follow this link to our local newspaper's article about the first Creative Civic Change workshops hosted in our new building: https://bit.ly/2q0klvZ
Thanks to Whitley Bay Film Festival for bringing the amazing Cabin to our Community Forum event today. Ema and Mal talk about their unique project. Whitley Bay's Creative Civic Change funding helped with some of the finances. Good luck with the project! (With apologies for the dodgy wind and traffic noise.)
Whitley Bay Big Local Community Building was open to the local community at our 2nd community forum of 2019. Hear thoughts about the new venue from a mix of residents, people that use the building regularly, MPs (OK, only one MP), volunteers, people that run groups and generally lovely Big Local folk. A great mix that has evolved over the last few years.
Lord Lennie of Longsands was a recent visitor to Whitley Bay Big Local. He met our Chair, Big Local Rep and 2 workers to discuss the role of Big Local in helping improve the town for residents and visitors ahead of this discussion on The Future of Seaside Towns. Use the link below and scroll to "8:04 pm" - unless you prefer to read the whole thing. https://hansard.parliament.uk/Lords/2019-07-01/debates/126DE39B-1B97-4F0B-BBE5-FCA096286A03/FutureOfSeasideTowns
In June 2019 Our Bigger Story hosted a 2 day event for all the case study areas. During this time, each of the OBS areas mapped their journey. Here are a few photos.
This short film was produced and directed by Suzanne Halliwell, from Whitley Bay Big Local, about her Big Local’s journey to secure a community space and provide affordable housing. Suzanne’s story was made with Hamlett Films. Here is a link to the film: https://youtu.be/iKY2cIJo9F4
Whitley Bay Big Local has a new 3 year plan for the period 2019-2022. The draft plan was developed following a range of community consultation events and methods - referenced in the plan document. We underwent a review with a representative of Local Trust and received some very positive feedback. Themes - we will continue to focus on 'environment' and 'people' themes but also have a new piece of work that focuses on 'Investing in a Community Building'. More on that in another post soon...
Whitley Bay has been running a small grants programme for many years. it is open to individuals with ideas and passions who can apply for up to £250. In this film, residents talk about how projects have grown and the impact on the whole community.
Local residents, small business owners and board members came together for a discussion about what is changing in Whitley Bay and how Big Local is helping to make this happen. In this film, people talk about the overall impact of Whitley Bay Big Local - the value of their community shop, the importance of making connections, the diversity of the community, their influence over the environment, and relationships with strategic partners.
Four representatives of our Creative Civic Change project group traveled to the amazing Battersea Arts Centre for a national Learning Event. It was good to meet the national project team, funders, artist facilitators and reps from the other 16 CCC areas. We aim to develop a project that will bring a significant funding pot to Whitley Bay to support arts and creative work linked to our annual community carnival.
"Work is taking place to tackle loneliness and isolation among Whitley Bay residents. Whitley Bay Big Local (WBBL) is embarking on a number of initiatives to address the problems affecting young and elderly residents. The charity has been given a boost thanks to a grant of £12,100 from North Tyneside Council and North Tyneside Clinical Commissioning Group, which was facilitated by ward Councillor John O’Shea." From Whitley Bay News Guardian, full article can be viewed here: https://bit.ly/2tqdcU8
We are starting our community consultation ball rolling to tell local people about the exciting opportunity to use creativity as a means to achieving civic change in Whitley Bay. We hope to build an inclusive year round programme of creative activity that will focus on celebration at our annual carnival. We'll need to make progress in the next 2 months to be able to submit a plan that our community has shaped. Exciting times ahead...
Whitley Bay Big Local residents will have a chance to discuss our recent community consultation responses and the plan we have drafted for the next 3 years.
After a bit of a disaster with previous website arrangements we decided to work on it in-house. OK, it's not going to win any prizes but we are happy to launch it 'as is' and improve it as we go... Here it is: www.whitleybaybiglocal.org The main thing for us is that the site is low maintenance and for it to link to our Facebook content. In a recent survey we found that nearly 70% of respondents visit our FB page and follow it as a way of keeping in touch with Whitley Bay Big Local events and activities.
We published a Welcome Leaflet to explain what Big Local is all about in Whitley Bay. The leaflet will go to all households and businesses in the area and be available for people to pick up in our community shop. We often get feedback that people don't know what Big Local is about. This is despite us having a community space on the high street, holding lots of community events and activities, having a strong social media presence, a website, getting regular articles in our local paper, holding community consultations and producing numerous newsletters over the last few years. Raising awareness, publicity and PR is a challenge!
We’re Coming Home’ celebrating Whitley Bay, was created by three locals: author Sue Miller who wrote the script, teacher Stephen Mason and the film maker Chris Ainsley. “I've lived in Whitley Bay all my life,' explains Chris. ‘….. I could see the changes that had happened and sense the difference in the way people were starting to feel. I wanted to capture some of that ….” Teacher and actor Stephen Mason, who for years worked in local pubs and clubs said: “I jumped at the chance to take part ...it felt like a great opportunity to challenge how we all think about our individual responsibilities to those around us - what we each do and what we say to make a difference.” “Creating our community means how we all choose to live together. Everyone has a part to play, so the film’s really a call to arms”.
We worked with some Whitley Bay High School students and staff to support their Enquiry Based Learning project. Their target was to produce a short film to be posted on this page - mission accomplished! They made this short film over a couple of days and did a great job - researching, interviewing, presenting, video and audio recording, scripting and editing. Thanks to all that participated!
Our Community Involvement Coordinator talks about the value of Big Local operating from a community shop space in Whitley Bay town centre.
We included a questionnaire for local residents in our last newsletter. It launched our community consultation work ahead of us starting to plan for the next few years of Whitley Bay Big Local. We held a prize draw and our local paper, The News Guardian, covered the story: https://www.newsguardian.co.uk/news/resident-wins-prize-draw-for-survey-on-whitley-bay-1-9290277
Whitley Bay Big Local has supported the carnival for several years - with time and money. Resurrecting the carnival was something a lot of residents wanted to see and everyone is encouraged to participate. Lots of work goes into helping people think about how they want to be involved, making costumes, providing workshop space etc. This film of the carnival tells the story of why it is a significant local event and illustrates how fun events are so important.
This film outlines how WBBL has responded to local concerns and the kinds of activities it has delivered - from contributing to the council's seafront regeneration to the community activities taking place in the community hub.
The latest WBBL newsletter was in Spring 2018 - they have decided to stop producing these for a while and try other ways of connecting with the local community. This one included a resident's questionnaire where we asked residents for 3 suggestions about how to improve Whitley Bay, an update on the activities of the Big Local funded Whitley Bay Neighbourhood Caretakers, and an example of how a Whitley Bay Big Local Small Sparks grant has been used.
After a few months of hard work, WBBL felt that it was time to invite anyone and everyone to see our new home, hear about our work and see the inspiring things that our Small Sparks Award Winners have done to bring people together in Whitley Bay!
The new signage on our shop will help everyone to find us!
Year Nine Pupils from Whitley Bay High School "took over" writing the majority of this edition of the Newsletter.
WBBL has commissioned Citizens Advice Bureau and MoneyWise Credit Union to work in Whitley Bay to provide benefit and debt advice and to encourage safer lending and saving.
We are hoping to involve lots of people in the activities planned in our new shop. These activities are usually led by local people. There are lots of ways to get people together, reducing isolation, learning new skills together.
Whitley Bay Community Carnival is an excellent opportunity to bring the community together, not just for one day but for months leading up to the event. Costume and structure preparation involved young and old and the event itself attracted thousands!
"Following the success of last weekend, we will be continuing the tidying-up of Trinity Churchyard. There is still some litter to pick up but would also like to tidy the garden too. Please feel free to come along and join the effort!
Local people joined Andy our Town Caretaker to help clear up Trinity Church which has been unused and unloved for quite some time. Just a couple of hours work and it's looking a lot better already!
What Whitley People Want.
Whitley Bay Big Local, together with North Tyneside Council, has introduced the new seafront telescopes to encourage both residents and visitors to take a closer look beyond the shore and admire the views of the beautiful coastline.
A passion for a place has brought people together.
Local resident John Clavering has been appointed as the town’s first ‘caretaker’ by Whitley Bay Big Local. He will help to improve the appearance of the area and build on the sense of community pride within the Big Local streets.
On 5th August 2016, WBBL brought together residents, volunteers, community organisations, local businesses and public agencies to tell their stories about how Big Local is making their town an even better place to live.
Big Local Spring Event in Newcastle (April 2016) Whitley Bay talk about the Carnival and its role in developing a stronger sense of community and promoting awareness of Big Local as well as providing employment opportunities for local residents.
Extensive consultation resulted in 500 people suggesting ideas about Whitley Bay. All comments and suggestions were ranked based on impact and ‘do-ability’ and a draft plan was shared at an open meeting before approval by the Partnership.
Issue 2 of the Whitley Bay Big Local newsletter includes news about the WBBL plan for Year 3, local activities, the small grants pot, and has a 'You Said - We Did' column to show how WBBL is helping to make change happen.
A leaflet explaining WBBL plans for 2016 - 2017. It identifies achievements so far, activities for the coming year and how people can be involved.
Food Swap and Harvest Market to raise funds for the Refugee Crisis. These took place in Whitley Bay Metro Station BBQ in the Station Master’s Garden, food donated by the Whitley Bay Food Bank.
Residents of Whitley Bay come together at their Big Local Community Forum to reflect on what’s happened so far and share ideas for the refreshed community plan.
Residents of Whitley Bay come together at Whitley Bay Big Local Community Forum to reflect on what’s happened so far and share ideas for the refreshed community plan.