1) How and when did you come together and form an area forum?
There were three scoping meetings that were designed and delivered by Sussex Community Development Association (SCDA) in 2016 as a result of funding. The outcome of those scoping meetings was that there was a desire within the community to network between community groups. SCDA had no more funding and the concept was parked.
SCDA approached Burleys Community Liaison Officer, Karen Rigby-Faux and asked whether she wanted to do something with the idea. Burleys are a private grounds maintenance company that works in partnership with Lewes District Council managing the parks and open spaces contract. As part of their social corporate responsibility they provide a community officer to support communities in green spaces. Burleys took the concept, mapped out all the groups, created the social media site and developed the network for the last two years to where it is now. Network meetings were started that run every four months with relevant speakers for Greenhaven members. In June 2018 a committee was formed and the members voted their constitution in, they held their first AGM in June 2019.
2) How many groups or members are in the forum and how many have attended in the last 12 months?
There are 92 green space community groups, 9 Forest Schools and over 250 members and we continue to grow very quickly. A list can be found on the Greenhavens Network website, including links where applicable.
3) Has anything been difficult or challenging?
The difficulty with all community-led initiatives is the actual “doing” because everyone is busy volunteering in their own groups. As an umbrella group it is hard to find volunteers to give their time, creating the website was particularly challenging with the amount of time it took.
4) What successes have you achieved?
Funding for a website.
A very successful, engaging private Facebook group.
The network has achieved a lot in bringing people together, signposting people and helping kick start projects.
Greenhavens roadshow has been particularly successful as presentations have been delivered to all town councils and other key stakeholder groups, which has enabled them to grow with the network,
5) Why do you think you were successful?
The continued support of Burleys through their Community Liaison Officer Karen has been critical to our success. Karen has been able to devote substantial time to building our brand and communicating the message really well resulting in our profile continuing to become more visible. There is an overwhelming community spirit in the Greenhavens, people and groups really do want to work together and share skills and knowledge.
6) What’s happening now with your Forum? (How have things changed or improved)?
We are now in the process of applying for funding to pay for our own coordinator so that we can run independently. We have agreed two major projects to work on with all the landowners; which are the creation of ecological corridors across the Greenhavens Network and improving health and well-being through the promotion of our green sports facilities e.g. football grounds, tennis courts etc.
7) What is planned for the future?
Our vision is that we will continue to develop the resilience and capacity of our community groups and engage and involve more residents in their communities.
Here are few of the active groups within the Greenhavens Network:
- Peacehaven Community Orchard and Gardens, Peacehaven and Lewes, East Sussex
- Friends of Castle Hill Local Nature Reserve, Seahaven, East Sussex
- Seaford Community Garden at ‘The Crouch’, Seaford, East Sussex
- Newhaven Growing Together Community Garden, Newhaven, East Sussex