Case Study - Coleford Area Partnership

Coleford Quest – a family learning maths and local history event

Background
Coleford Area Partnership is a strategic organisation that was set up to coordinate and encourage efforts of the community supported by the public, private and voluntary sectors both locally and regionally to regenerate the area of Coleford in a cultural, economic, environmental and socially sustainable manner.

SPP Pumps has been a world leader in the design manufacture and production of centrifugal pumps and systems for a variety of applications across a range of industries for 130 years.  Based in Coleford in The Forest of Dean, it employs 300 people worldwide, about 250 locally, and has recently been awarded Manufacturer of the Year at The Pump Industry Awards.

The Process
The planned date - 28th May 2013 – the Tuesday of half term was agreed. SPP Pumps was included in the discussions, but their sponsorship was the main involvement, as it was hoped employees’ families might take part, but would also fall under the company’s social and local community responsibility.

Publicity was through local business networks, posters, fliers through school contacts and local press – though the press release was not published in either of the local papers. Nor was it published in the ‘What’s On’ columns.

Laura Hurcombe, Engineering Manager at SPP Pumps, gave support to the Family Learning Activity – a treasure hunt around the local town with maths-based clues and information about Coleford’s heritage. We named it The Coleford Quest.

Prizes were generously donated by local businesses and attractions.
The response by these organisations was overwhelming and enabled every participant to have a generously filled goody bag as well as there being prizes for different elements of the Quest.

The event
Despite a wet and gloomy day, six family teams took part.

The maths-based clues had been set up in the previous weeks, but participants were also given local heritage information relating to their walking journey. There were maths clues; animal pictures in shops for younger walkers to identify; a charity shop challenge, tallies to collect and ‘name the place tapestry’ clues. The Charity Shop challenge involved using a virtual voucher to buy a smart outfit.

The teams
Two teams were from Coleford or its immediate surrounds; four from further afield in the Forest of Dean. Information had been spread by word of mouth and fliers had been picked up from local schools.

Feedback
Most participants took about two hours to complete their Quest
Two volunteers, Linda and Tilly, helped with clues and guiding people with library clue.
Participants reported that they had enjoyed the challenge and learned more their local town, (including a town planner). Some reported that they had visited places they had not been before and it made them look at and think about the town in different ways.

This is what participants had to say about the event:
“The Charity shop challenge was a great idea thanks – the best bit! Good, well prepared questions and about right as a challenge”.
“Very well thought out. Pity about the rain”.
A 3 generation family – grandfather, father and girl aged 10 and boy aged 8years said that the
Intergenerational aspect was good.
“It was good to have so many traders involved. Finding out about local history was interesting and helpful”.
“Brilliant! Very thought-provoking and the history was interesting”
“Really enjoyed it, all logical and the clues were easy to follow. Ideal – wouldn’t change anything”

Lessons learned:
•If approached in the right way (personal letters most successful) local businesses and attractions can be very generous.
•Lots of organisation time was required to work out routes, clues etc. It was necessary to distribute animal posters and check critical clues like costings and film times before the participants set off, Marketing- word of mouth is probably the strongest recommendation. We used free internet event listings and 200 fliers were distributed in local schools, with posters in local shops etc.
•    The partnership working between an initiative, an employer, local business networks and the community partnership contributed to the success of the events.

Summary
These activities could be replicated in any company and in any town. Whilst numbers were small, as a pilot, useful lessons have been learnt, that can be taken into consideration when planning future activity.

All the materials are easily adapted, so a package can now be made available on the appropriate websites.

A local Academy have expressed an interest in running the Making Ends Meet sessions for families, possibly in partnership with other local schools.

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