Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Project Puts Residents in Charge of Regeneration

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Project Puts Residents in Charge of Regeneration

Article excerpt

Byline: SMALL BUSINESS TOM KEIGHLEY tom.keighley@ncjmedia.co.uk

ASCHEME which puts Newcastle residents in the driving seat of regeneration efforts has taken inspiration from an unlikely source.

When the North East was likened to Detroit by a now infamous newspaper article, many responded in uproar, but there is inspiration to be taken from the Motor City - as one community organisation found out.

Walker SOUP is a new scheme which puts the community in the driving seat of its own resources and regeneration by creating a relationship between residents and entrepreneurs.

Local people gather over soup or other food and pay a small amount into a kitty which serves to fund micro grants. The audience watch pitches from four local entrepreneurs and then vote for the project they feel benefits their area the most. Successful entrepreneurs - who may have established operations or nascent ideas - are then helped with financial support and local resources to expand or launch their projects.

The idea was adapted from the successful Detroit SOUP project which has raised $85,000 for projects bene-fiting residents in the deprived US city.

The North East version is now five months old and is being run by Building Futures East - an organisation which encourages personal development and skills training in the East End of Newcastle.

Anthony Woods-Waters, the chief executive officer of Building Futures East, said: "The people of Walker have been consulted to death over regeneration programmes, many of which fail to materialise. There is definitely a degree of fatigue and cynicism out there.

"The idea for Walker SOUP has been a couple of years in the making. The fact is there are some great projects already going on in the area - but not everyone knows about them. Part of this is about illustrating that work as well as making sure people feel in control of their area's resources. …

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