Idea #1: Community stewardship of Southchurch Hall gardens

Describe your Good Idea: Local residents in the Kursaal ward have come together to form a charity S.H.I.P (Southchurch Hall Inspirational Parkers), whose mission is to improve and maintain Southchurch Hall Gardens for our community.

For many years the beautiful Southchurch Hall gardens were neglected and became an unpleasant and unsafe environment. People stopped using the park and the community lost a vital and inspiring place where local people could meet and come together.

S.H.I.P volunteers are now working tirelessly to restore the gardens to their former glory. We want to bring our park back to life but more importantly help to regrow our doing so.

S.H.I.P also have plans to increase usage of the park and to engage with the wider community by:

– Holding community events in the park
– Working with schools to encourage/arrange trips to the park
– Working with vulnerable groups such as the elderly and disabled to improve access to the park
– Working to create a crime and antisocial behavior strategy to improve safety in the park/area.

Why is this Idea important?: Kursaal ward is one of the most deprived wards in England, it has many issues to contend with; one of which is the lack of safe pleasant outdoor places for the community to meet, sit or even simply contemplate.

Southchurch Hall gardens can provide a beautiful comforting environment to our community but it needs to be maintained and reclaimed first. This we believe will not only provide a fantastic area for our community but will also make it stronger and more united.

Additionally, the gardens/house are one of the oldest historical areas in South England and we owe it not only to ourselves but future generations to maintain them in an appropriate and sufficient way.

How would funding help with your Idea? The funding would help us to:
– Access additional funds to hold free community events in the park
– Purchase horticultural products to improve the aesthetics of the park
– Purchase materials to enable us to engage with schools
– Purchase materials to enable us to engage with disadvantaged groups
– Increase the S.H.I.P membership by engaging and bringing together our whole community
– Reduce crime and antisocial behavior in our community by enabling a local campaign of awareness and engagement.

Your Idea takes off; what’s happening 6 months from now?
– A clean and safe park
– A place of quiet contemplation for those who need it most
– A place where the whole community can meet and engage
– Regular school trips improving local children’s sense of belonging and community spirit
– Regular community events, giving us a chance to celebrate who we are
– Local activism on a level not seen in Essex

In short, a better life for all those who live not only in the Kursaal ward but Southend as a whole.

Idea #2: Expanding the Little Free Library scheme

Describe your Good Idea: The Little Free Library Project is about placing LFL’s in communities around and in Southend. The object is to bring communities together by providing a meeting place to chat, to discuss books being read, share responsibility for the library and encourage a love of literacy in both the adults and children. There are households without books and this is one way of enriching young lives by having books freely available without having to go to the local library, something not possible for some families..They are huge fun and the children love the excitement of finding not only books but competitions and challenges for them to complete and return for prizes.

Why is this Idea important? it is important to foster a love of reading, an encouragement for communities to take responsibility for the library within their community by collecting books, setting up book clubs and reading groups. Children are made aware of the importance of books, of sharing, of taking care of books and above all, loving the feel of a book, the anticipation as you turn a page, all things that can be so easily lost in this digital world.

How would funding help with your Idea?: There are 10 libraries placed around the area and money has run out for the new batch being made. Funding, however small will help to get the libraries made and placed in communities as part of the drive to enhance literacy.

Your Idea takes off; what’s happening 6 months from now?: Six months from now we should, with funding, have 20 more placed and a waiting list for even more.

Idea #3: Great Get Together Shoeburyness – 17th June

Describe your Good Idea: The Great Get Together is a national celebration started by Jo Cox’s husband Brendan. In remembrance of a wonderful woman that believed people have ‘More in Common’ than that which divides them, Brendan (and partners of the Get Together) are encouraging communities to organise fun events – such as street parties – together over the weekend of 16-18 June. A number of events are being organised around Southend and we’re organising a BBQ & Family Fun Day on Shoeburyness East Beach. We’re inviting people to get involved and bring along anything to entertain others – a football, a tug of war rope, volleyball net, drums, guitars, crafts for kids etc (We might draw the line at vuvuzelas. Also – no fire eating; too much paperwork.) We’ll also have a marquee where we can hold talks and debates. We have zero budget for this – we’re just a small band of enthusiastic people making stuff happen – so we need to keep things simple and need lots of people to get involved to ensure the event’s a success.

We must thank previous Soup winners Transpire Southend who are helping with the organisation and are covering the event with thier insurance.

Why is this Idea important? We know that when you bring diverse people together in a positive way, magic happens. By having fun together, and sharing food, we hope new friendships will be made and perhaps even some assumptions challenged. We want to demonstrate that Southend is a welcoming town full of great people. We also want to invite people to connect who might feel socially isolated much of the time.

How would funding help with your Idea? There have already been costs involved – such as submitting plans to Southend Council – which have been met personally by the organisers. Other costs will include power for the PA system and perhaps to hire some of the entertainment kit (or indeed to pay entertainers in some cases!)  We hope a lot of things will be donated, and that people will give their time for free, but there are going to be some unavoidable costs. (And we certainly don’t begrudge paying performers who need to make a living and are *always* being asked to do stuff for nothing!)

Your Idea takes off; what’s happening 6 months from now? This is planned as a one-off event at the moment, but who knows what will happen! If it goes well, we’ll probably do it again next year, but it’s always possible there will be spin-off activities and events that emerge from the day itself.

Bonus Idea: Small Change Theatre – looking for support, not funding!

Describe your Good Idea: Confused about how the economic system works? Do you believe the economc system is unfair and only serves a select few? How have you been effected by this economy? These are some of the questions we shall be asking our audience in our play What Do We Know about our economic world. We are Small Change Theatre Company and have been working with 4 residents of Southend. Through workshops we have explored the inner workings of economy and how these residents have been effected by our turbulent economy. It’s not all doom and gloom. As part of the play we invite the audience to speak up a be a part of real change in Southend and the surrounding area. What can we do together or individually to eleviate some economic pressures? We wish to attract as many audience members as we can to our show. The more we get through the door the more likely we can find a solution through solidarity.

We hope to bring Southend together with this play and maybe expose some Truths while we are at it.

Why is this Idea important? As students we know too well how money effects our daily lives and how these debts that hang over our heads are going to effect our future lives. However, we know we are not alone in these feelings. All across the country swathes of people are becoming homeless, skilled workers becoming unemployed, funds being cut from vital services – yet certain people seem to be still living the high life, sometimes off the back of other’s misery (war, for example, is one the world’s highest profit industries). So what can we do about it? This is such a big subject and innately confusing. Well individually it is quite hard to do much about the national system. However, we can do something in our neighbourhood. Together we can help each other. We need to band together and come up with some solutions. This play will be the catalyst for these discussions. With electoral candidates from the major political parties attending the show this is a perfect opportunity to let them know what you think we should do. This play is important because it is a goldern opportunity to share our ideas together and make Southend a national example of equality in an unequal economic world.

How would funding help with your Idea? We are not looking for funding we are looking for good old honest support 🙂 If people can’t attend the play at 7 pm on 1st and 2nd June, and 5 pm on 3rd June at Clifftown Theatre on Nelson Mews, near Railway pub, then we humbly request that they find some way to advertise it to their friends and community.

Your Idea takes off; what’s happening 6 months from now? Local Councillors will be attending the performance. The idea is for them to listen to your ideas then make them a reality in Southend. So hopefully it will be longer than six months; the effects will last lifetimes.

In addition to this, as part of the play, we are going to organise a planter where audience members can plant a seed for the future. We are seeking anyone or any group who would be willing to look after the plants as the grow. This will provide Southend with some more fresh produce that they can enjoy as well as learning about gardening along the way.

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