September 16, 2022
All good things must come to an end, and at the end of this month, we say goodbye to our Project Coordinator Kelly Patterson. Here’s what she had to say about her time with SPTM Big Local and her hopes for the project in the future.
Q) How long have you been the project coordinator at Big Local?
A) “ I’ve been here for 6 years.”
Q) What would you say you’ve enjoyed most bout the role?
A) “ Even though it’s community led, I love that there’s an element of creativity around that. It’s been nice to hear some of the areas the community would like to improve, then being part of that initial conversation on how to do that. You can be quite creative with that sometimes.
Often, it’s about using the negatives to create some positives in a creative way. The food project is probably an example of that. Obviously Covid was a huge negative, but we really pushed SPTM to a different level and made sure we stuck around. I’m really proud of that project and I think the dedication of myself, Ali, and those key volunteers during that time was a real asset. I like to think that the community really understood why we did it and why we didn’t just disappear like many other organisations had to.”
Q) What have you found the most challenging thing?
A) “ Sadly, it is the community involvement side of things, but I do understand it. I was a community development officer for CBH and that was always difficult. I like to feel that this role was a bit easier than that because I feel the role of CBH is hidden behind the Borough Council at times. If people see you as ‘the council’ and as being in a position of authority it’s harder.
With this role, I always liked to think I understood a bit of the background as I was brought up in council housing in the Moors. I think because of that, I was able to communicate with people in a different language, one they understood.
So yes, keeping the ongoing engagement and involvement of the community going is tricky. People’s lives are hectic and things can change so quickly as we know. People sometimes think they aren’t community-minded or they don’t have the skills to do things in their communities, that’s why you need that consistency and time to build trust. Even though getting people involved is the hardest thing, it can be the most rewarding when you get there.”
Q) What has been your personal highlight in your time working in this role?
A) “ I’d say two things. The food project because we responded really well during the lockdown and were one of the first to respond. Then there’s the Community Sports Hub. The fact I’ve been involved and helped get it to the planning stage has been great. I’d love to see it happen for the community as well as the club. It’s a really nice legacy going forward for everyone. That’s important. We have an opportunity to keep SPTM going.
Q) Where are you off to next?
A) “ I’m staying at the Borough Council . My current role was a rolling fixed term two year contract so once the most recent term was coming to an end, I took the chance to review things. I made the decision to take up the role of Partnership and Research Officer which will be similar work to what I’ve been doing. I’ll be looking at themes that people have to deal with like hardship and mental health, and working with organisations in Cheltenham to look at activities we can be doing to support that.
I’m really looking forward to it, even though the SPTM role has been 6 years of my life. It hasn’t been an easy decision but for me personally, it was just the right one.”
Q) What would you say is SPTM’s biggest achievement to date?
A) “ I think it’s the fact it’s been so community led. We’ve been able to give a lot of people a voice who maybe didn’t think they had the right to have one, or who maybe thought they didn’t have anything to say. Everyone has something to say. As well as that, at key moments, we’ve had some really great volunteers and community members step up and take the lead on things.
When we did the food project, we ran a community help project alongside it. We got people to link with neighbours, especially the elderly, and they took a lot of self-responsibility to make sure others were okay.
With the cost of living crisis, I think that will come back. People will invite people in to have a dinner. We’ll go back to that quite naturally I think as it’s human nature to make sure other people are alright. Hopefully my new role can be another path to encourage that.”
Q) What are your hopes for SPTM in the future?
A) “ I hope there’s a legacy, that we still have the community worker, community involvement, and involvement in positive activities that will change perceptions of the area. I hope there’s a chance to build on what we’ve achieved in the last 6-8 years.
If the hub goes ahead, that will be massive in terms of community regeneration and sports regeneration. It will link those living in the Moors area with the Saxon Quarter, Brooklyn Gardens, and Arle Road so they don’t feel so isolated.
It will be another community facility in the area. There are already some great facilities like The Rock, Gas Green, and the YMCA which all provide something different. The hub will really uplift this area I hope. I wish everyone the best with it and I hope that the community will get as much out of it as the football club. Though the club are very community minded, so I don’t think that will be an issue.”
Q) Is there anyone you’d like to give a special mention to?
A) There are so many people! Ali, our community link worker, who has the hardest job in the world but does it so well. Marisa from Tesco has been incredible. Dave Bath has been an incredible support. Lindsey, our casual member of staff who’s taken on the food project which really took the pressure off us. She was a community development officer so she’s really hit the ground running.
We’re very lucky to have attracted such good members of staff, volunteers, and partnership members, as well as having the chance to work with great people in organisations we partner with.
For the community members who’ve been involved, not many places have a community organisation that can support them to do things in their community that they are passionate about. I’d like to say a huge thank you to you all for how you’ve supported me, SPTM, and the community.”