During these most challenging of times, I wish you and your families and neighbours safekeeping and good health and positive spirits. I am mightily impressed with local action and support in the area.

Some good news is that Big Local has guaranteed a further £50,000 to each area, bringing the total investment in Central Boston to £1,155,000 over the whole programme.

Some useful Big Local resources have been developed in partnership with local areas:

  • Developing Potential shows how residents can gain from regeneration and development, rather than lose out to it.
  • Community hub handbook is a full and practical guide to the tough task of developing and sustaining such a resident resource for the long term.
  • And during the Covid-19 pandemic, some useful guidance on volunteers and safeguarding has been produced by government.Every three months or so, I share my thoughts on local area progress with you as residents as your Big Local Rep and with the central team managing the national programme. Your comments and thoughts are always welcome.

    Priorities and achievements looking back: running things well, communicating success, networking with local groups and responding swiftly and effectively to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Running things

The partnership continues to meet monthly with strong support from the Local Trusted Organisation, Age UK Lincoln & South Lincolnshire. Finances are reviewed each month and headline figures displayed on the spend barometer on the website. Quarterly reports from partners were reviewed in January. These are posted to the website. These provide the evidence of outcomes and impact through stories of action and change and in newsletters delivered to every household. A recent article highlights the value and impact Boston Big Local support to CAB brings to residents. Continuing consultation with residents is gaining insight into potential activity for future investment, including any one major project of £100,000: discussion was held in February with Rev Val Ogden of the Centenary Methodist Church about its accommodation project.

Doing things

Activities and projects are on track across all themes and priorities in the plan, except for further delays in the Boston Buoys arts project. The partnership has approved the LCVS bid for an environment volunteer co-ordinator and her work has got underway despite the Coronavirus lockdown. Connecting with Science and the Artist in Residence programme, two national Big Local initiatives, have inevitably stalled in the current circumstances. The partnership is also in discussion with Boston Borough Council colleagues leading on events and being advised as to when these need to be cancelled for public safety and protection, in turn seeking to minimize financial loss through incurring non-refundable expenditure. The chair and vice chair retain strong and positive links with Boston Town Deal and Heritage Group initiatives.

Key priorities looking ahead: Boston Big Local’s vision for a happy vibrant area where people feel a sense of belonging never seemed more appropriate. It will keep lines of communication open with partners during the spring and summer and respond to necessary variations in activity; it will be ready in the late summer and autumn to join with partners to kick start new or putting on deferred events; build the community conversation in order to ascertain changing needs and emerging priorities and consider how best to respond in line with Boston Big Local’s overall vision and aims; it will run a deferred Boston Big Local celebration and AGM.

Key achievements, success factors and insights into what has worked well

Boston Big Local has had a very successful first year of its current two year plan across all themes and priority activities. It remains alert and responsive to community need, using its plan as a framework to build on not a straightjacket to restrain movement. Boston Big Local has been quick to respond to the challenges posed by Covid-19, moving to online conferencing and engaging with partners.

Benefits locally of support available from Local Trust

Partnership members value contact and input from the wider programme, most receiving the national newsletter. While Boston Big Local is sad that BL Connects cannot happen this year, resident members will be queuing up for 2021. It is disappointed but sanguine that Connecting with Science and the Artist in Residence programme have had to be deferred.

Emerging issues

Boston Big Local is working well in these most difficult of times and those being funded are in the main able to continue a reframed offer of support to residents they are working with. With the additional funding available of £50,000, the partnership will appraise emerging or changing community need and priorities in the autumn.