Case Study: The Broomhill Project

Shared by Karen Orr, RIG Arts

Name of Organisation/Project

The Broomhill Project

Funding/Partners Involved

River Clyde Homes
British Gas
Creative Scotland
Riverside Inverclyde
Climate Challenge Fund
D’Oyly Carte Charitable Trust
Tesco Bags of Help
People’s Post Code Trust

Background Information

River Clyde Homes (RCH) a ‘not for profit’ affordable housing provider and registered charity hired RIG Arts, a socially engaged arts charity based in Inverclyde, to develop cultural activities to support a three year £26m regeneration project to transform Broomhill, Greenock, an area comprising of more than 600 homes.

The Broomhill Project began in November 2015 with initial funds promised over a three year period from RCH. RIG Arts significantly increased these funds to develop additional projects to offer a wide range of opportunities for the area to build community spirit and to cast a positive light on the area which had been previously overlooked and suffered locally from a poor reputation. RIG Arts integrated approach embedded creativity into the heart of the revitalisation of Broomhill.

The Broomhill Project was designed to create work of universal value deeply rooted in the place’s culture while simultaneously increasing opportunity and wellbeing through improved confidence and skills. 3,625 people have actively participated with the Project with thousands more accessing the online content via Facebook, Twitter and the Broomhill Project and Heid O’the Hill blogs The split of participants is 52% Broomhill Residents and 48% of people living out with Broomhill but residing in Inverclyde.

A cultural hub and central place for people to meet developed through RCH’s offer of a dedicated art flat in the Broomhill Court high rise. This central location broke down barriers to participation. The project gave a voice to those living in, and connected to, Broomhill, nurturing their creativity and celebrating their strong industrial and cultural heritage through artist residencies, workshops, films, community events, murals, community gardens and heritage projects.

The high calibre of the creative interventions and the strong, open partnership between RCH and RIG Arts enabled the project to be a catalyst for change and development in Broomhill. It empowered the community and supported a people-centred approach to regeneration.

Local schools St Patrick’s Primary School, Whinhill Primary and Notre Dame High School have also been valuable partners throughout the project. RIG Arts worked with all three schools actively engaging them in various aspects of the project.

The Broomhill Tenants and Residents Association (TARA) have also been an integral partner throughout, allowing RIG Arts to maintain open communication with local people outside of the weekly workshops and events.

New relationships across generations have been formed with people with diverse backgrounds and experiences bonding over working on creative projects. It is frequently noted in both formal feedback and informal conversation that the regular workshops are integral to increasing and maintaining positive wellbeing. This is seen both in the pride expressed in completing an artwork using new skills and through humour and conversation shared with workshop facilitators and other participants.

Creativity and the arts are powerful tools, helping people to communicate and learn, especially those people with social, emotional and behavioural issues. RIG Arts’ work encourages individuality whilst at the same time teaching team work, interpersonal skills, critical and out-of-the-box thinking. The project focuses on the positive development of underprivileged individuals and the wider community through using creativity and innovation to help them achieve their potential and to realise other personal and community goals.

Community Involvement:
RIG Arts holds regular steering group meetings with key stakeholders, artists and the community to ensure that there is ongoing feedback and contribution from the community in the delivery and direction of the project.

Projects have been created and funding sought based on what the community wants and needs. RIG Arts regularly attends Broomhill Tenants and Residents Association (TARA) meetings and the monthly public meetings in order to maintain open and receptive communication with local residents.

Each artistic output has been created in collaboration with the community. RIG Arts also actively promotes and approaches residents who hold local knowledge, employing and sustaining these individuals where possible. A genuine appreciation and understanding of multi-way knowledge sharing and relationship building is practiced. A Broomhill teenager Morgan Carter who left school at 16, was employed by the project as a project assistant, May’17 to Oct’18. The project also employs a resident cleaner and hired a resident as a researcher on the Heid O’ the Hill Heritage project for 3 months.

An issue originally faced was the areas bad reputation and a fear from people from within Broomhill and the wider Inverclyde area to participate. Broomhill is an area of high socio-economic deprivation as listed in the SIMD 2016. Broomhill Court had the worst reputation of all the blocks with many empty flats and people with addictions and social issues living there. After a constant and strong PR presence by RIG Arts through social media, blogs and the local press the barriers were broken down and today additional workshops are run to reduce waiting lists for the sessions.

‘Festivalising’ the project through various sharing events, exhibitions and fun days increased community participation and engagement by getting people and art out into the street to share experience in the context of their space. The ‘Bye to the Bells’ event and various fun days are evidence of this. Positive media coverage and PR for the Broomhill project has reduced the stigma that outsiders may have felt about the area and has raised the confidence, ambitions, belief and pride of Broomhill tenants and residents.

Reaching disengaged residents was a problem. This was tackled through using a varied and creative approach, short bursts of activities, free events and visibly being engaged in the community talking to people broke barriers and ensured that the most people possible were reached and included in the regeneration process.

There were issues integrating disengaged people and people with mental health and addiction problems with some workshops. Clear rules had to be set and additional tutor support had to be provided.

There were also clear divides between community groups and individuals at the start of the project with a feeling that the ‘kids’ would not respect work made and parents would use workshops as free childcare. RIG Arts have demonstrated the opposite by providing inter-generational and family focused workshops also inviting knowledgeable community members along to specific workshops to co-facilitate.

The Broomhill Project developed into and continues to be an ambitious publicly engaged arts project, connecting local residents and artists in collaborations to create physical artworks, events and performances.

Inclusive Growth Outcomes sought

In order to capture the inclusive growth outcomes of the project, the Scottish Governments 5 P’s outcomes framework has been used:

Productivity – Economic growth is resilient, sustainable and inclusive

Population- Scotland’s population is healthy and skilled

Participation- Inequality of opportunity to access work is addressed,
jobs are fulfilling, secure and well paid, and everyone is able to
maximise their potential.

People – Economic benefits and opportunities are spread more widely across
Scotland’s population with lower poverty levels.

Place- More equal economic opportunities across Scotland’s cities, towns,
and rural areas ensuring sustainable communities.

Sustainabilty- Inclusive Growth is pursued within the constraints of environmental
and financial sustainability- ensuring fairness for both current and
future generations and preserving, protecting and enhancing
Scotland’s natural capital and environment.

Actions Taken

Productivity- The Broomhill Project has created economic growth in terms of local trades people, companies and artists used to deliver the project in combination with specialists from out with the area.

Population- The community assets from the Broomhill Project combined with ongoing creativity and innovation supported by RIG Arts has brought and will continue to bring people to Broomhill and Inverclyde making it a better place to live and work assisting with the wider Inverclyde Council strategies of Tourism and Re population for the area.

Sustainability-By working with the local community to develop projects, the project is ensuring that the outcomes of the workshops will last well into the future. Collaborations result in meaningful artworks, invested with memory and importance by participants and therefore embodying an attitude of ownership and care. This attitude can also be witnessed in events and other less tangible outcomes, with participants sharing their knowledge of the area and expressing pride and protection over The Broomhill Project.

The benefit to local people through increased skills, confidence and independence will act as a legacy of the project by improving the community’s economic and social stability by increasing opportunity and encouraging local people on a path of engaged learning, volunteering and employment. The aim for long term legacy and change is to empower local people and to share with the Broomhill community the tools and knowledge to take action, and remain actively invested in their area.

Participants have been introduced to ‘WEvolution’ to begin conversations about how they can continue making work on a self-sustainable model. This will ensure a transition between externally funded projects to self-funded projects, enabling the local residents to maintain their increased skill-set, confidence and potential to make the most of opportunities available to them in the creative world.

The facilities from the Broomhill Project, the art flat and outdoor makers space will give the community a base on which to grow and develop further.

Participation- RCH coordinated Broomhill Job Fairs to offer em ployment advice and opportunities to residents.

People-Through skills-based workshops and opportunities for learning, community confidence is growing and participants are gaining key practical and interpersonal skills, improving wellbeing and opportunities. Participants and audience members have treasured experiences at the workshops and events, socialising, sharing experiences and becoming emotionally involved in the work. This is improving well-being and will help to develop improved individual and community outcomes in the future.

Place-Local residents are able to feed into the environmental plans through participation in the creative programme i.e. in helping design the Broomy’s Bees community garden that was installed in 2018. This has increased pride and ownership over the changes being made to their neighbourhood amongst local residents, improving the likelihood of the new environment being nurtured in the future.

Challenges Encountered & How Overcome

Challenges encountered were residents’ discontent at the ongoing work and disruption going on in and around the area. Delays and change of plans were also a point of contention. RCH kept open communication and created a community development role to assist.

During the project RCH restructured which meant a change of senior management and a need to re-establish the benefits of the project and its plans to the new managers. The project was supported at RCH Director level which was a great benefit especially in securing external derelict spaces to transform into community assets such as the Broomy Bees community garden and external makers space.

The Broomhill Project assisted in terms of being seen as neutral and RIG Arts were able to connect with people who do not normally engage with the formal community meetings and consultations. The project was able to pass on concerns and ideas to RCH through the steering group meetings.

Assessment of Impact & Future Opportunities

Broomhill is now a more desirable are to live and work. From seeing many empty flats the area now has full occupancy. Broomhill Court has turned around and is now flats for older residents with their own community flat in addition to the art flat and a guest flat for family to stay for short periods

Broomhill is now area that is not only physically improved but now has better facilities and activities for residents and the wider community i.e. the Broomhill Community Gardens & Hub and the Broomhill Art Flat.

The Broomhill Gardens and Community Hub is a social enterprise focused on improving lives and communities who believe that people experiencing difficulties in their life, whether through health or social problems should be accepted, supported and equipped with skills to deal with the challenges they face.

The Gardens and Community Hub opened in 2016 and is managed by In work Enterprises Ltd based in Greenock a Social Enterprise who are wholly owned by Inverclyde Association for Mental Health and provide training, voluntary and work-related opportunities in catering, office skills, landscaping, ground maintenance and horticulture to people in our area who have experienced mental health issues or have experienced long term unemployment.

The hub was designed by Inch Architecture and was named the winner of the Scottish Design Award in the ‘Health Building or Project’ category in August 2018

A Social Return on Investment Audit concluded that for every £1 invested in Inverclyde Association for Mental Health from the public sector there was a £6 return to the public purse. It is a great having this organisation based in the area.

The Broomhill Project has sited community made artworks such as experimental photographs, benches created by recycled stone from the demolished Drumfrochar Square Flats an iconic landmark of the area, stained glass inspired by its industrial heritage and sculptures. The project regularly used the space for community events, exhibitions and specialist workshops.

River Clyde Homes was also recognised for the Broomhill regeneration project.
It received a commendation in the Best Regeneration Project category at the Herald Property Awards.

As well as the physical changes to the area, including the introduction of bio-mass district heating to help tackle fuel poverty, the environment is being improved and an arts programme has been critical in bringing the community together.

Elaine Cannon, service improvement manager, said: “We are all deeply thrilled at receiving the commendation. This has been an ambitious project from the very beginning and is proving to be a great success.
“The proof, quite simply, is that more people are living in the area now than at any point over the last 20 years. This is tribute to the community and the hard work of staff from across River Clyde Homes who, collectively, have lived our vision of ‘improving lives and places’.”

Broomhill will also be the home of the new Greenock Health & Care Centre on Trafalgar St, Greenock. It will be a hive of activity.

Links to relevant documents
The Broomhill Project –

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