Dunno, went to the sort of Catholic school who felt unable to teach us the English version of history, hence my inability to spell the name. David Blunkett walks his dog in the park so maybe he could be our Disraeli - or Gladstone - he could take his pick.
Would love a tread of my own. Perhaps you can organise one. I certainly ought to organise with James about placing some of the material we have on his site. Perhaps even a whole page where people could post things about the park. (Probably just me, but I would be polite to myself. ).
In the meantime, and hidden away in a TLMJJ thread, victory is surprisingly muted. It coincides with me really wanting to have some time for myself. Three years is long enough and I have done my bit. But to push for the lease we initiated activities that highlighted the need for the park and increased the pressure on the Church Commissioners to grant a lease.
The first part of this is OK. Over a period of two years we raised £35,000 to survey users and hire professionals to draw up a management plan. (And the 'we' really is mums who used to use the Rainbows End Playgroup.) Without a lease we could not get further, but yesterday I had a meeting with some funders (Cross River Partnership) and Lambeth, and there is every chance our application (written at 5.00am) to have the funding to buy in experts to finalise the proposals in the plan (since it has been sitting on a shelf for 10 months), to then write funding bids for the 50 discrete proposals and, when funding is achieved, write the tender brief for the implementation stage of what will be a £2,000,000 project.
What seems to have happened is that the bigger players in the area seem to have adopted our vision of a good quality local park with plenty of good things in it (cafe, good playequipment, decent footie pitch, tennis, seating, etc) as being a useful addition to an increasingly built up area, and something which is accessible to the less well off and which pulls a diverse community together. This means I can put this baby up for adoption, but will still be allowed visiting rights.
The second part is a lot more depressing. Told that the park was underused and derelict we set up a football scheme using Fulham Football in the Community as suppliers. Its great, and at its peak we were getting 80-90 boys each Saturday, almost all from local estates. Funding so far came from 10 different sources and I got pretty good at filling in applications.
The crazy thing is that this area has been given £19 million from the Government to help fight deprivation, £5 million of which is ring-fenced for the community. But, surprise surprise the local business cartel - the same ones who wanted to build on the park - are running this programme.
We and Lambeth have already been told that they have no money for capital improvements for the park. Presumably street furniture is more of a priority than somewhere for kids to play. But I have also been trying the community side for the £8,000 PA I need for the football to continue.
Earlier applications were turned down for a range of specious reasons. Then there was a chink of light, and I was told that I could apply for £500 - that was all they could spare. I duly spent 4 hours filling in the 22 page form, only to be told it was lost in the post. However someone forgot and quoted from it. He he. However it apparantly could not be processed as my handwriting was too bad - and no they did not find some help to get it retyped, that was for me to do.
The latest is that I was told on Wednesday that we had been awarded £23,000. Huh. We had not applied for £23,000.
Apparantly it is perfectly legal for a 'partner' organisation to apply for SRB funding on behalf of another organisation, and for that money to be granted. More irritatingly this is the second time it has happened. A few months back someone on the panel told me our group had been allocated money for tennis and cricket equipment. The equipment had been bought, indeed some of it was sitting in a cupboard since the park staff did not know what to do with it. Yet despite requests for clarification our unlimited liability group do not know whether we are expected to take responsibility.
On this occasion one service delivered the cartel of landowners seems to have applied in our name for funding from another service delivered by the cartel of landowners.
The problem for us (and after putting this to Lambeths Executive Member for Regeneration who kindly asked what was going on - a copy of the approved application suddenly appeared through my door) is that we want the money for the football to continue. But in order to do so we have to run the project in the way the various people working for the cartel of landlowners have decided it should be run. We get no say.
Conditions require us to provide £2,500 in in-kind support. Eg 333 voluntary hours if they use the £7.50 per hour for volunteer time. We are required to actively monitor numbers at all sessions, undertake an annual feedback session, undertake secific publicity including leafleting all schools and community groups, liaise with Lambeth over the provision of match funding for the scheme, provide structured holiday sessions, establish a steering group involving 5 named groups and others (the problem here is that the others are larger organisations with paid staff so meetings would inevitably be during the day or early evenings - really hard when you want to save your holidays to be with your own kids) and, amazingly, provide exit routes for young people wishing to join a structured club. All on top of the normal reporting and monitoring requirements.
Previously all we ever did was fill in the first application form and then hire Fulham and ask them to provide monitoring to funders as appropriate. Plus obviously going down once in a while to make sure everything was OK and talking to users.
I feel really blackmailed, and surprisingly upset. The people in Westminster Bridge Road
tell me that it is too late for us to apply for money on the basis of the scheme we want to run, as current funding ends in November, and we can't apply till December. Plus they might not approve our application.
So the choice if for me to have to donate large chunks of my limited personal time essentially to meet the requirements set out by, if you go back, the big businesses of the area. (Yes, both the sports and funding programmes are being delivered by a group made up of representatives Shell, Ernst and Young, Railtrack, Sainsbury's and others.) And if I don't, the kids don't get the football.
I feel strongly that many of the problems with young people in the area arise from the fact they have nothing to do. The football delivers male role models, discipline, team work and a lot more than sport. But I really don't feel I should have been put in this position. It has to be wrong to bounce good people in this way.
I don't know what to do. I know there are others out there who know a bit about regeneration. Should I take back my own life or put local kids first. Or is there a way to fight thse bizarre and manipulative SRB structures.
Sorry it was so long. The short fact is that victory seems pretty hollow. Could do with a drink!