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


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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