The Whitley Community Development Association (WCDA) on Northumberland Avenue has spent about a quarter of a million pounds so far, said finance officer Mo McSevney at their open evening on Wednesday 11 April 2018.
Mo McSevney said that conditions had changed in Whitley since 2014, when the WCDA was set up to manage the million pounds awarded by the Local Trust, and the WCDA now needed to review what they were spending the money on.
“We have £191,000 to spend this year,” she said. “We now need your suggestions about how we will go about spending it, and what changes we should be making.”
Mo McSevney said that back in 2014 they had planned projects which, four years later, had been taken up by other organisations and no longer required WCDA support, such as running a bus to ASDA.
“It’s effectively your money,” she said, addressing Whitley residents at the open meeting. “Living and working in the area, and knowing what it needs, is a really important part of the decision making.”
“We’re at the stage where we need to re-evaluate what people want and how the money should be spent,” she said. “Being a quarter of the way through is a key moment for us; we’re more developed and more mature and now have a reputation; we’re no longer the little upstarts!”
The Whitley Researchers are a joint initiative between Whitley residents and the University of Reading, funded by the Big Local that also funds the WCDA, which aims to teach local communities the skills needed to perform their own research. They have already conducted research into the everyday transport needs and experiences of communities in south Reading and into financial exclusion.
The Whitley Researchers want to recruit more local people to help; it’s paid work, and you should contact Mo McSevney at the WCDA if you’re interested.
“It’s very participatory, and we’ve seen a real change in the people involved,” said Trisha Bennett. “We have a 100% record of people starting as researchers and going into some other sustainable, permanent work.”
The community café
The café in at the Northumberland Avenue social club was inspected by the Food Standards Agency and Reading Borough Council in March and was awarded the highest food hygiene rating of ‘5.’
“The café is really buzzing,” said Trisha Bennett.
Communicare is a free drop-in service for people support or advice on matters such as debt, completing forms, housing or benefits advice. They visit the Whitley community café every Monday between 10.30am and 12.30pm.
“The communicare lady used to sit here every Monday on her own,” said Trisha Bennett. “Now people are often queueing up to see her. That, for us, is a major change.”
The WCDA have leased the Whitley Advice Shop at 479 Northumberland Avenue for 15 years from the local council as a new home for RG2 Whitley Radio. Email them at email@example.com if you want to volunteer, or firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to collaborate.
- Whitley Social Club and Cafe is community centre “for the first time in thirty years”
- The WCDA on Facebook
- Whitley Social Club and Café
- Whitley Researchers and Reading University
- Community research in Big Local areas