Thornton Lodge is one of the most deprived areas of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire. Where textile mills once flourished, their demise left behind high levels of unemployment, poor quality housing, health challenges and educational disadvantage. The community is multi-ethnic and multi-lingual. Local residents have shown themselves to have a thirst for learning and for improving the quality of life in the area. Thornton Lodge Action Group grew out of this drive to make life better for all the residents of the local community.
Thornton Lodge Action Group has been working to support our community since 2006 when we came together as a collective voice to influence Kirklees Council on how they should allocate the £2.4 million of regeneration funding in our locality. We consulted local families and then lobbied local Councillors and Council officers to seek support for the four strands we have identified as TAG’s priorities for the foreseeable future: Education and Training, Health and Well Being, Sports and Recreation and the Environment. Since then, the community meets regularly to review those priorities, to advise our Trustees and agree what funds we should bid for so we can continue our work.
Council owned Thornton Lodge community centre was destroyed in a fire. The community was fully involved in planning the new replacement centre.
Thornton Lodge Action Group or TAG achieved our first Service Level Agreement (SLA) with Kirklees Council to provide youth activities on Wednesday evenings.
TAG worked in partnership with the Council to open the new community centre which was to become TAG’s base for training and other activities as well as a new home for the SureStart Pre-School Alliance. In the same year, we were successful in getting Kirklees Council (KMC) funding to run sporting activities for young people as part of a wider Tackling Obesity initiative.
Also in 2011 we ran a weekend Outward Bound course for 20 young men aged between 13 and 19 years old in the Lake District and took another group of young men to Carlton Lodge Outdoor Centre in Thirsk, North Yorkshire. This programme aimed to inspire young boys to become the leaders of tomorrow.
TAG won £45,000 from the People’s Health Trust providing two years’ funding to develop and deliver social activities for local women as part of the organisation’s wider Health and Well Being targets.
TAG was successful in winning £245,000 from the Big Lottery’s Reaching Communities. This provided five years’ funding to 2018 to run a range of community based courses in Education and Skills. One of our key aims was to help people into employment.
TAG registered as a charity. We also developed and ran a flagship project with the support of Kirklees Council’s Integrated Youth Support Services called UR weekend, UR choice. This offers a range of activities every Saturday and Sunday for both girls and boys including Nirvana gym, arts and crafts, sport, dodge ball and kick boxing. This has now been established as annual funding.
November 2015 marked a great achievement for Thornton Lodge Action Group who received Trinity SELT course provider status. The status is the first to be awarded to a community organisation in Kirklees.
Learners who are seeking to gain Indefinite Leave to Remain (to settle) or British Citizenship (B1) or Further Leave to Remain (A1) can now attend a local venue in Huddersfield to get all the support in passing the test.
We have been awarded £9,348 from BBC’s Children in Need to provide weekend educational opportunities to children and young people. The project will also deliver sport, music and drama to help children and young people to develop positive attitudes towards education, raise their career aspirations and increase their self-esteem and confidence. Through it, children will also get to develop bonds and friendships with those of different ages, communities and cultures.
5 years on from 2012, TAG are once again successful recipients of a two-year grant of £38,622 from the Health Trust
This is the first project that has been developed and led by local residents. A Community Champion is facilitating the project offering leadership, guidance and support helping residents to avoid common pitfalls in running a community project.
The project has been branded Mix and Fit by the community. It takes a two-pronged approach in addressing health and wellbeing the community. Its offers social activities to residents to come together and Mix and also offers Fit sessions so women can stay healthy, mobile and active.
Our project aims to create opportunities for marginalised, isolated and inactive BME women who reside in our community. The project aims to increase their sense of belonging, create opportunities for civic participation and promote British values.
Cohorts of structured ESOL sessions coupled with integration activities will run. The provision incorporates challenging extremism and embeds British values in its delivery.
We also would like to acknowledge the donation made by Ernest Cook Trust in 2018 which has helped us support young children from our community to excel in Numeracy and Literacy.
In March 2019 we concluded our Pilot project “Beyond the blade” which was financially supported by the Home Office, Anti Knife Crime Community Fund. Over the 6 months the project supported 95 young people with diversionary activities, train the train workshops coupled with mentoring support from skilled practitioners. An evaluation report can be accessed here. Continued government support is being offered through #knifefree to tackle the mounting incidents of knife crime up and down the country.
Mid way through the year the active charity was a successful recipients of ESF Community Grants drawing down just under £20,000 to extend their flagship project “women into enterprise”. The project will support unemployed women and foster key skills drawing women closer to the labour market.
The Start of 2020 has bought some highs and lows for the charity. In February 2020, the charity awarded another £20,000 from ESF Community Grants to continue much-needed work around supporting inactivity and unemployment in the community. But in March 2020 all the projects came to a grind to conform with government restrictions on movement to tackle the COVID 19 pandemic. The charity was resilient and acted swiftly in setting up “COVID 19 response” initiative after seeing first-hand the hardship residents were facing from ill health to mass unemployment. Early polls were worrying for the community which saw a high proportion of people from BAME backgrounds falling victims to COVID 19.