Delivering differently – Mark’s Story

As a Devon County Council Locality Lead for Ottery St Mary I help as an intermediary for issues or challenges the community are facing that may sometimes get caught up in our bureaucracy. As part of my role I have been working with the community to establish a multi-use and cross-generational space in Ottery St Mary.

We have achieved this with the establishment of the Station Community Hub, which was a former DCC Youth Services Building. Twelve months ago it was boarded up, now this building has been transferred to the Town Council and the local community. It has been refurbished by the Town Council using lots of different funding sources including Invest In Devon, money from the local member and the local community via its town precept.

It is home to a growing range of activities – offices are offered out to small, local enterprises and local community organisations such as the Ottery Help Scheme that help older people in the community. It has space for another local organisation (the 06 Group) to run youth sessions each week and it is even now being used to store equipment for Ottery’s response to supporting Syrian Refugees. The use of the centre changes and grows month by month.

This journey may have started with my involvement around the Community Interest in former youth services buildings, but it has led to my involvement with a whole host of internal departments, councils, voluntary sector organisations and even the Cabinet Office’s Delivering  Differently Project that looked at how we could deliver youth, library and day care services more effectively as a council.

I think my work with Ottery as a locality lead was a small but an  important part. A key aspect of my role was to develop the communities own solution to and find the resilience (and persistence) to make this happen. I think this change sits in a space all of its own.

It is early days to talk about longer-term achievements as this journey has only just begun, but here we have an example of Devon releasing assets, using enablement funding, using different methods and thinking to achieve community-owned and inspired action to help themselves. Hopefully the creation of the space that already offers services for younger and older people will benefit other parts of the community.

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