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Well Whitehaven news and events

Well North Chairman Lord Mawson visits Well Whitehaven

Having snowed overnight a glorious, yet cold, but beautiful sunny day followed for the visit of Well North Executive Chairman Lord Andrew Mawson to the Mirehouse Estate on 30th January 2019.

Lord Mawson met with the projects that were successful in securing resources at the Participatory Budgeting event held in November 2018. All their project plans have been developed with support from the Well Whitehaven project officer and should be starting soon. Exciting times are ahead.

The successful projects are:

Mirehouse Community Centre: Play area upgrade

Mirehouse Residents Group: Activities for the more mature residents

Continuation of youth provision

Community Centre upgrade (in conjunction with

Mirehouse Community Centre)

St Benedict’s RUFC Support for the youth section

There was also the opportunity to visit a pathway behind Valley School that has suffered from drainage issues, probably since the pathway was installed, and hundreds of children have attended school with wet feet. Betty Wells, who has lived on Mirehouse for almost 50 years, mentioned that her feet had got wet on that path since she was taking her eldest son to school 45 years ago!

Although the project didn’t secure any votes at the event in November when it was being presented, the community members in the room felt it was a very high priority. The improvement of the pathway is being investigated and supported with in-kind support by members of the Well Whitehaven Steering Group.

A morning of project visits was followed by lunch with the projects and a number of community members at Top of the Shops Community Café with homemade meat and potato or cheese and potato pies. Absolutely delicious!

The visit was completed with a meeting with Pat Graham, Chief Executive – Copeland Borough Council, Gillian Johnston, Community Engagement Advisor – Morgan Sindall and Gary McKeating, Head of Community Relations - Sellafield Ltd.


At Valley School

Captions: Cafe photo (l to r): Kelly Johnston – Lead Project Worker, Mirehouse Residents Group, Roger Wynne – Trustee, Mirehouse Residents Group, Betty Wells – Mirehouse Residents Group, Neil Carruthers – St Benedict’s RUFC, Nigel Shipton-Smith – Head teacher Valley School, Lord Mawson, Janet Wynne – Trustee, Mirehouse Residents Group, Barbara Armstrong – St Andrew’s Church, Jennifer Bowman – St Andrew’s Church
St Benedict’s RUFC with their fabulous new pitch in the background: Neil Carruthers, Lord Mawson, Steven Howse
Operation Walkway (l to r): Betty Wells – Mirehouse Resident, Lord Mawson, Paula Ratcliffe – Well Whitehaven Project Lead, Nigel Shipton-Smith – Head Teacher, Valley Primary School
Lord Mawson meets a Viking at Valley School

Well Whitehaven community awards £100,000 to inspiring projects

Thirty five local people gathered at Valley School on 17th November to hear about thirteen potential community projects and decide the six top priority ideas to share funding of over £100,000 from Well Whitehaven.

Each group applying for funding was asked to create a poster to visually promote their proposals, and also to give a talk about their plans. The projects ranged from upgrading local facilities and providing more activities for young people to creating a sensory garden and a community gym.

The six projects with the most votes were:

  • Play area upgrade and Billy Dicko’s Community Fitness Gym – proposed by Mirehouse Community Centre
  • Community Centre refurbishment, maintaining a central office to run activities for older people, and youth provision – proposed by Mirehouse Residents Group
  • Support for the youth section – proposed by St Benedict’s RUFC.

Pupils from St Begh’s school just missed out on funding for their ideas, but have been invited to link up with the Mirehouse Residents Group on their projects.

Each of the chosen projects will be invited to put forward a fully developed and costed project plan. Project development support will be offered to ensure costs, risks, delivery and sustainability are taken into consideration.


“Initially, we hoped to get around five applications and 20 people attending, so the number of projects and people involved exceeded our expectations,” said Paula Ratcliffe, the Well Whitehaven project officer. “I’m looking forward to working with the various groups to turn their great ideas into reality and make a real difference to people of all ages across the community.”

The next round of project funding will be in April to June 2019, with local groups being invited to put forward their projects and vote for their priorities.

Men in Sheds Christmas success

The ongoing development of the Men in Sheds project saw the group focus on the manufacture sale of Christmas decorations during the month of December. Items manufactured included Christmas trees and snowmen made from pallets along with more intricate items such as nativity scenes and sleighs.

The products were initially advertised via the shed Facebook page and were also sold via two local businesses – Rosebudz florists and West Coast Group. This year the group sold over 50 Christmas trees alone and were slightly overwhelmed by the support they received from the local community, which resulted in sales of goods totalling over £1000, all of which is used to keep the shed group running.

The group has now doubled in size and is already looking at further expansion as it develops towards operating under a social enterprise model.

Future Pathways project launched by Well Whitehaven

A new programme for 14 and 15-year-olds has been launched by the Well Whitehaven team. Future Pathways offers a locally delivered alternative to the traditional residential activity based studies, by providing a variety of classroom and outdoor activities each week focusing on a different area of learning and development.

Each session in the eight-week programme will enable young people to develop skills to help them in the next stage of their learning and through to the world of work. They also have the option to work towards formal qualifications to become climbing or canoeing instructors.

The programme began on 15th September, and is funded for the next three years. During this time, the Future Pathways team expects to engage with 350 young people of secondary school age.

Each cohort of 12 will ‘graduate’ after the initial eight weeks and will be mentored by a Community Support Officer for the following 12 months. From Future Pathways the young people will be supported and encouraged to move to the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme.

For more information about Future Pathways please contact Mark Wear at mark.wear@cumbria.police.uk.

Fantastic Men in Sheds team transforms community space

Thanks to wonderful support from the local community and businesses, a brand new workshop/shed and small allotment area have been created at the Seathwaite Community Centre in Mirehouse, Cumbria.

The three-day Men in Sheds project, led by Well Whitehaven, involved over 30 people who volunteered to take part by digging, building and brewing tea! Starting with an empty patch of ground on Monday 30th October, the community space now includes a shed plus an allotment of raised planting beds to grow fruit and vegetables, new fencing and paths plus a compost bin. Children from Valley School also built bug hotels to attract insects to the allotment.

Men in Sheds takes its inspiration from the Men’s Sheds movement which originally started in Australia. The Mirehouse 'shed' operates from the Community Centre and was originally set up by AgeUK to provide men aged 50 or over with a dedicated space for their age group where they can make things, socialise, share skills, or just enjoy a brew.

Thanks to support from the local community and businesses, the Mirehouse shed is now able to expand and offer additional activities. The project team would like to thank Sellafield Ltd, Travis Perkins and West Coast Group for donating materials to enable the project to go ahead, and Morgan Sindall for working with the children on the bug hotels.

Mark Wear from Well Whitehaven said: “This amazing project wouldn't have been possible without all of the donations of materials and people's time which we received to support the group. A huge thank you to everyone, particularly the local businesses, for their contributions.”

You can see more photos and follow the project here.

Bright outlook for Future Pathways graduates

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, attended the graduation of a group of students from the Pathways programme on Friday 17th November at Whitehaven Academy.

The initial cohort of 15 students graduated from the ‘Future Pathways’ programme, which delivers an alternative to the traditional residential activity based studies by providing a variety of outdoor activities each week focusing on a different area of learning and development. The programme has helped young people develop skills to help them in the next stage of their learning and through to the world of work.

The students, comprising a group of year-nine and group of year-ten students from Whitehaven Academy, took part in the eight week programme involving activities that helped develop their problem solving and presentation skills along with boosting their self-confidence and self-esteem.

Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner Peter McCall said: “I am delighted to support ‘Future Pathways’ and to be part of the graduation event and see the results of the students’ hard work come to fruition. I have made a commitment to support young people in our communities, and I know that it is only by working together with our partners and agencies that we can make a positive difference to these young people’s lives.

“I hope that Future Pathways will continue to demonstrate that with effort, commitment and support, every young person can ensure they have a bright future.”

The Pathways programme is funded and delivered as a partnership between the Office of the Police and Crime Commissioner, Morgan Sindall Construction and Whitehaven Harbour Youth Project, and supported by Well Whitehaven.

From ‘Future Pathways’ a number of the students will continue to be supported as they now move on to the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme, Junior Firefighters scheme, work experience and other community based projects


Children inspired to boost natural spaces in Mirehouse

An interest within the Mirehouse community to develop green spaces within the estate was generated after the successful Men in Sheds project. Two groups of children from St. Begh's Catholic Junior School and Valley Primary School were given the opportunity to visit Watchtree Nature Reserve at Wigton, with the aim of inspiring them to gain ideas on how their local area could be developed.

The students were encouraged to take in as much as they could during the visit so that they could potentially replicate aspects of the nature reserve in the area where they live.

Whilst walking round the nature reserve the children were asked to collect items that represented all the colours in the rainbow. All of the children were amazed by the variety of colours and the amount of things that continued to grow and live during the winter months. The students also learnt about different habitats and some saw a family of wild deer.

Using the knowledge and information they gathered during their visit to Watchtree Nature Reserve, the children are now beginning to prepare their own plans on how they would like to see their area developed to increase the presence of nature and enhance the open spaces.

The visit was sponsored by the Crime Commissioner for Cumbria and construction and infrastructure company Morgan Sindall.

Gillian Johnston, community engagement advisor at Morgan Sindall, said: “The visit to the Watchtree Nature Reserve was a very cold day but very enjoyable.

“Encouraging the children to learn and care about developing green spaces in their local community is great as it helps them to see the very important contribution nature makes to the environment they live in. I look forward to hearing the children’s ideas and plans for the community after the Christmas holidays.”