Blackpool Coastal Housing and LeftCoast crowned winners of the Partnership of the Year - Delivering for Communities Award
In 2013, Blackpool Coastal Housing was instrumental in creating LeftCoast, an arts provider on a mission to increase participation in the arts in some of the most deprived areas of the UK.
With Creative People and Places grant funding (from Arts Council England), BCH have been pivotal in leveraging LeftCoast’s decade of success: providing pro bono business support, a direct route to tenant/resident communities and accommodation for pioneering artist-in-residency projects.
In our latest, most ambitious collaboration, the LeftCoast and BCH partnership have delivered a community-built launderette-cum-library, branded ‘Wash Your Words’. In the last 18 months, a former housing office on Langdale Parade, Mereside (which was unused for several years) has been dramatically transformed into a laundry room/library/social hub hosting weekly workshops for residents to learn new crafts such as lino printing, sewing and hydroponics.
The space has been designed to be functional and friendly, helping people to leave their homes again post-pandemic. In addition, the free laundry facilities meet a basic need for many families on the estate as they become Wash Your Words members, helping with the upkeep of the space and the cleanliness of the machines.
BCH always seek to enhance the lives of our tenants and their local communities whenever we can. Our long-standing partnership with LeftCoast has been beneficial to many of our tenants, and the innovative new library and launderette facility on Mereside will encourage reading whilst also helping residents with cost of living issues.Stephen Dunstan, BCH Director of Resources
The project has attracted national recognition, and has recently achieved the ‘Partnership of the Year – Delivering for Communities’ award at the prestigious Affordable Housing Awards.
From receiving the housing office keys to a public launch, Wash Your Words took 8 months to realise at the modest cost of £33,000. It has become a blue print for future endeavours between BCH and LeftCoast as we turn our attention onto other wards with a mixture of social, economic and health challenges.
The combined expertise of a social housing plus model and opportunities for community growth through the arts is creating genuine impact. BCH and LeftCoast bring different skills, perspectives, contacts and sector knowledge to grassroot projects.
BCH give LeftCoast freedom to operate independently, enabling them to genuinely empower our residents in the communities we serve. We are committed to the belief that arts and culture offers real opportunities to change peoples lives, especially in a town that needs creative and innovative action to stop it being labelled as ‘Left Behind’.
Our partnership with BCH has grown from strength to strength over the years. At LeftCoast we are process led, driven by conversations with residents and can rarely say from the outset what the end result will be. This is often unfamiliar territory for a housing association. The trust in which Blackpool Coastal Housing gives us to work through our practice enables us to develop collective creative solutions with residents, with out the trust this would not be possible. This award recognises the benefits that can be achieved for residents through this kind of partnership.Helen Jones, LeftCoast Operations Manager