Across the country, communities are coming together over the festive period to celebrate and spread joy by delivering presents, singing carols and lighting up streets in villages, towns and cities, far and wide.
Whether it’s responding to disastrous weather, which can leave people without homes, food, warm clothes or anywhere to go, or putting on exciting events, parties and shows, these are the places that support, celebrate and bring people together in good times and bad.
Thousands of community assets – buildings, shops, pubs and green spaces – are successfully owned or managed by community organisations across England.
Protecting places and spaces
With so many vital public buildings and spaces being sold, cut or shut due to austerity measures and cuts to local authority budgets, we’re calling for urgent action to protect these assets, which sit at the heart of our neighbourhoods.
Our ‘Places & Spaces – The Future of community asset ownership’ paper calls for a £1bn fund to save the nation’s public assets. Not only would this prevent our most iconic community buildings from being lost for good, it’s a huge opportunity to empower communities, reshape public services and regenerate local economies.
You can support an existing community asset this Christmas by paying them a visit! To help inspire you, we’ve chosen 12 of our member’s community owned centres, parks, pubs and buildings you can visit and learn more about over the festive period!
We all know how the songs goes… on the first day of Christmas my true love sent to me…
1. Hill Holt Wood, Lincolnshire
Hill Holt Wood is a community business and social enterprise operating out of a 30 acre woodland in Norton Disney, Lincolnshire.
In 2002 the community took control of Hill Holt Wood from a couple who bought the woods in 1995 with the vision of it becoming a community asset and green space for all.
This December, members of the local community are being welcomed to visit the woods for a crisp winter walk or to visit the festive Hive cafe for Christmas fun on the 18 December. Expect warm mince pies, seasonal cakes, treats and a colouring competition!
2. Bramley Baths, Leeds
When Bramley Baths was threatened with closure, a group of local residents campaigned to take over the management of the leisure centre from Leeds City Council and were successful in January 2013.
Bramley Baths have been championed by local residents and supporters all over the UK, and are determined to provide an affordable space for health and fitness, and to ensure the survival of this beautiful Grade II listed building.
Over this festive period you can visit the baths for choir services and even a free festive harmonies event were you can swim along to a beautiful live performance from eight classical music students from Leeds College of Music. Relax and enjoy while listening to carols and magical lullabies on the 11 & 13 December.
3. Crowborough Community Association, East Sussex
Crowborough Community Association (CCA) has been active since 1975, and was in desperate need of a new home to support the community and all the activities happening locally.
The CCA drove a project to provide a new facility following extensive local research and consultation. A town centre site was acquired on a 125 year lease from Wealden District Council, and the new Crowborough Community Centre opened its doors in 2012. It is now very much at the heart of the community, with an average of 260 bookings each year.
This December, head over and visit the centre for the Crowborough Community Association Panto of Aladdin, or you can join local people for a Christmas Craft extravaganza on 23 December, for two hours of non-stop craft and festive fun.
4. Heeley People’s Park, Sheffield
Heeley People’s Park is the largest community run park in the country and a flagship model for community management of green space.
An area in Sheffield (which is now Heeley People’s Park) was cleared of houses, pubs and businesses to make way for a new dual carriageway. For various reasons, including public pressure, plans were shelved. A local group (Heeley Development Trust) then came together to transform this unloved corner of Sheffield and ensure the interests of the community were protected.
Today you can visit the park, which is home to two world-class boulder climbing, cycle tracks, picnic and play areas and wildflower meadows and orchards. Why not head over this December to enjoy breath-taking views, winter walks and activities for people of all ages.
On the 11 December local people also held a Christmas fundraiser. All proceeds from the event will go to Heeley People’s Park. The event included a live performance from Wrapping Jack Frost, DJ sets, hot food and a bar and over 100 local people.
5. The George and Dragon, Hudswell
The George and Dragon pub is situated in gorgeous Yorkshire countryside, with views across the rolling Dales. Local people decided to buy the pub in 2010 after it had been on the market for two years, it became the first community owned pub in Yorkshire.
The pub is at the heart of village life – it also contains a little shop, a library and community allotments. The George and Dragon is serving a classic three course Christmas dinner all through December.
6. Grange Court Trust, Leominster, Herefordshire
Grange Court is a community, enterprise and heritage hub, owned by LARC Development Trust. The Trust, which is made up from the local community, local businesses and local public organisations, have worked for eight years and raised over £3 million to ensure that the Grade II* listed building is owned and run by, and for, local people. The project was successful and the Trust now run the building which was transferred by Herefordshire Council, who agreed the sale of the building for the sum of £1.
Head to Grange Court this December to see the wonderful Christmas lights and decorations and learn more about the history of the building. You can also buy beautiful Christmas cards of the building (see image above) or even book your Christmas party there!
7. Community Spaces Northampton, Northampton
Community Spaces Northampton (CSN) is a local charity who were appointed to run seven community centres previously managed by Northampton Borough Council in March 2012. They also took on an additional eighth centre in 2013. CSN were the first community group to undertake such a multiple asset transfer.
The group have also recently been awarded the right to manage their ninth asset, a brand new £1.9 million centre. CSN were advisors to the design and specification of the building, and submitted rigorously scrutinised business plans.
The group have worked closely with Community Organisers so their work can make an even bigger impact – drawing in people from the whole community in family fun events and plenty of community consultation on their events schedule going forward and any project and plans. Throughout December one of the Community Organisers working at the centre, Mo, will be running surgery’s to welcome all residents to the centre, offering free festive refreshments and a Christmas quiz with prizes. CSN are also hosting a Community Litter Pick on 22 December, featuring Christmas hats and jumpers, warm mince pies and hot chocolate.
8. Knowle West Media Centre, Bristol
The Knowle West Media Centre are an arts organisation and charity based in Bristol.
For years, the organisation was based in an old local health centre and people were desperate for a change. A new centre was needed to support local residents, organisations and young people to develop, achieve positive social change and use the arts to make a difference to their lives, neighbourhoods and environment.
After consultation with local residents and the involvement of young local people in planning the project, the old building was demolished and re-built to suit the community’s needs. The new building opened in April 2008 and is now a thriving hub for the whole community.
Anyone can visit the centre throughout November and December to take part in festive workshops. People can make their own Christmas decorations, cards and small gifts using the machines in the centre’s workshop. Personalised gifts, free of charge!
9. Wells Maltings, Norfolk
The Wells Maltings Trust was set up in 2010 to oversee the regeneration and development of the Maltings, Sackhouse and Granary Theatre – a striking 19th century brick and flint building within the heart of Wells-next-the-Sea. Their aim was to create an exciting new cultural and community hub for North Norfolk, with a diverse programme of entertainment, including; theatre, music, comedy, cinema and exhibitions.
The Grade II listed building, which has already served the community for decades, is now about to undergo a major face-lift and overhaul all thanks to the community, fundraising and grants. Find out more about the redevelopment here.
Visit the Sackhouse this festive season for Swan & Dyer’s Winter Warmer. Expect Christmas carols, dancing, storytelling and experience joy of being together with family and friends.
10. Withington Baths, Manchester
Withington Baths is an Edwardian baths situated in the heart of the residential community of Withington since 1911.
After the much-loved building threatened to be closed by Manchester City Council in 2013, the local community rallied together to save the building.
The idea was that the building wouldn’t close its doors to the local community, but instead be run as a social enterprise – by the community, for the community. In spring 2015 the community finally took over the building from the council using a community asset transfer. The building now has over a thousand local members and runs a diverse and exciting range of classes, projects and facilities.
Withington Baths are running a Christmas challenge throughout December where people are encouraged to come to the centre during Christmas time to do different exercises, classes and activates every day. Find out more and get involved.
11. Selby Trust, Tottenham
The Selby Trust was set up as a charity in 1992 by local people who had a vision for a place in the community that people could call their own.
The Trust were successful and now manages The Selby Centre, a multi-purpose community and social enterprise centre, which is on a 25 year lease from LB Haringey.
The Trust’s tagline is ‘many cultures, one community’. The work of the organisation brings together a rich mix of individuals and organisations, primarily from Black and Minority Ethnic (BME), refugee and other historically excluded communities in Tottenham, Haringey and North London.
Throughout December, and beyond, the Selby Centre is working towards preparing for the arrival of refugees – making them feel welcome in this diverse community. Live locally, or just want to help a wonderful cause? Why not pledge your time to teach English, befriend someone, or even donate food and clothes. You can also volunteer at the local Food Bank based in the Selby Centre to help and support people in need over the festive period.
12. Witton Lodge Community Association, Birmingham
Witton Lodge was formed by local people in 1989 in response to the local authority’s plans to demolish the majority of the Perry Common estate in Birmingham.
The Perry Common estate has been transformed under a masterplan which was designed by the local community. The estate has new refurbished community-led housing, more green spaces, new community facilities and a dedicated extra-care facility for older residents.
Witton Lodge Community Association kicked off the festive season in November with a ‘Christmas On The Ring’ celebration, including a Rodeo Rudolph, festive food, craft stalls, live music performances, a local choir singing carols, and performances from the local Chinese Community Centre dance group. Visit Witton Lodge this December and join in on classes, volunteer your time, learn about Perry Common’s history or join the BIG Christmas Quiz on 16 December for a festive, fun packed quiz night, and a mince pie!
Find out more
Visit our Places & Spaces for more information on Locality’s call for a £1bn Community Asset Investment Plan, to save the nation’s public assets.
Or for more information on nominating, transferring or taking over local assets that matter to you and your community, visit the My Community website for more information.