Community Together CIC history started in 2007 when former Borough and County Councillor Lee Bates, along with local residents in Wilnecote and Staffordshire Young Peoples Service worked together to form an intergenerational project called ‘Community Café’.
The idea behind the ‘Community Café’ was to break down barriers between youth and older residents through providing positive activities such as games, arts and crafts as well as the opportunity to speak to each other. The session became very popular and soon broke down barriers between generations and complaints about young people that used to occur at local residents’ meetings soon went away.
The session quickly started to get a lot of interest from outside organisations, both statutory and voluntary, who wanted to come and speak with people attending the ‘Community Café’ about other services available in the local area. With changes to Staffordshire Young Peoples Service, the running of the ‘Community Café’ session needed to be made formal. However, after consultation with users who enjoyed coming, the formal aspect didn’t appeal to them and so we had to look at models other than the traditional constituted group with a Chair, Secretary, Treasurer.
The Community Interest Company model was chosen because it was not for profit, transparent, all accounts are registered with Companies House for people to see, and there is a national regulator called the Community Interest Company Regulator where we have to submit an annual report to that evidences the work we do is all community based.
Another benefit that appealed to us was it offers more flexibility to add and change services to adapt quickly to local needs.
In January 2011 Community Together CIC was incorporated and a board was formed including founding board members Steve Hodgetts, Debbie Bates and Lee Bates who took on the running of the Community Café Project.
In 2009, the Community Development Officer for Tamworth Borough Council in Amington approached us about setting up a session in Amington and when the newly built Fire Station opened up in Belgrave in 2011 we were approached about running sessions there as well. Slowly but surely the network of Community Café’s started to grow.
In the midst of the financial crisis, people coming to the Community Cafés were asking for help with CV’s, interview techniques, job searching and so we set up our Job Club support service called Let’s Look Together Job Clubs. Continuing to engage with our users is key. They told us they wanted to learn cooking skills so we developed a series of Cooking Course, help with IT so we established a Computer Club and a local youth club merged with Community Together CIC which brought youth activities to our portfolio.
All of what Community Together CIC does today has come directly from our initial Community Café and has been developed by the communities we serve, telling us what help and activities they would like to engage with. This is helping tackle local issues around mental and physical health, tackling loneliness and up skilling people to become more resilient in the future. Community Together CIC today is helping Tamworth residents to Grow Well, Live Well and Age Well through a variety of projects and activities.