Service Challenge Days

We originally planned to deliver a Service Challenge Day in both Pidley and Somersham in December.  However we now realise that we have been a bit ambitious in our planning as we have also committed to creating two community films in the same time scale.  We have discovered from making the Pidley film that there is quite a bit of planning, scheduling and general organising involved in film making, in particular when trying to involve community members.  Based on this we contacted NESTA to see if we could move the Service Challenge days into the New Year as we felt that this would give us, the communities and the service providers involved more time to decide which community issue to address and to develop ways of exploring it. NESTA have agreed to this change and we are now talking to the two villages to choose an issue to centre the days around.

 How have the villages we work with responded so far to the project?

Somersham: One of the main issues identified this summer in Somersham was the difficulty in distributing information in the village as it has a large population (virtually a small town).  The Parish Council has responded by increasing the frequency of their village newsletters and is working towards putting a new, open access noticeboard in the centre of the village. The village also has a blog ( on which they have developed a’ groups’ page to promote the various local groups and give details of forthcoming events. There have also been four entries into the Neighbourhood Challenge competition which are attempting to address some of the issues identified earlier in the year.

Pidley: Pidley Parish Council has taken on board the issues raised by their community and have started to take action on several points.  They are currently arranging a housing survey for the village, have contacted the Highways department of the Council over creating a pathway to Somersham and are investigating sources of funding for a new play area and establishing exactly how many young people there are in the village with a view to developing a park for the young people.  The two competition entries from the village are focussed on youth provision (a main issue raised through the consultation)  and the two girls who have been campaigning for a while for a park have recently made a film which they are showing in local schools and are applying for more funding to help their cause.

Tydd St Giles : One of the main issues emerging from the consultation work in the autumn was the need for an improved play area.  The Community Centre Committee started an application for funding to address this a while ago and then (for various reasons) it came to a halt; they have now restarted this process as a result of the interest shown through the photographic consultation.   Two young girls have made a film to demonstrate how they would like the village to develop and in particular how facilities in the youth club could be improved.

 Prickwillow: The village council have taken down their old website and started a new one and are looking at ways of reinstating the village newsletter as a need for improved communication within the village was expressed by the community.  One of the main results of our work has been to foster the relationship between the village and the City of Ely Council which is effectively their Parish Council, the lack of broadband is being raised by the City Council with other local authorities and hopefully this will result in improvements being made.  Interest in developing a community buying scheme or integrating a shop with the Prickwillow drainage museum has also been expressed.

Taking the learning forward

Throughout the project we have been aware that we will want to use the learning gained to improve our existing community planning process.  We have considered all along how the various methods we have employed could be used by rural communities going forward and have tried to develop them to make them replicable in the future. 

We are considering whether to include out learning into our existing toolkits or whether to create a series of standalone fact sheets which we could post on our website for communities and other organisations to access.