Coventry community strikes it clucky

Resident helpers have a cracking time with the chickens.  Left to right:  Nikyla King, Caitlin Richards (21 months) and Lorna Round.


 

?Thursday, 18 April 2013 

Families living in Henley Green and Manor Farm are today thanking 30 chickens for improving their community and helping scoop a national award.

Rescued from battery farms, the feathered-friends have turned around the fortunes of Henley Green Community Centre, reduced anti-social behaviour and given local people a passion for eggs and animal husbandry.

The project backed by Whitefriars Housing last night (April 16) scooped best community-led initiative in the Chartered Institute of Housing’s UK Housing Awards 2013. Comedian Sue Perkins presented the award.

Motivated by reports of the ill treatment of battery chickens, members of resident group Craven Connection approached Whitefriars Housing for assistance to build a chicken coop.  Through its Pride In Our Streets funding, the housing association awarded the group more than £1,300 for materials for the coop as well as money for two residents to attend a chicken husbandry course.

As a result of their efforts, 30 chickens, four ducks and a turkey now live in comfort at the back of Henley Green Community Centre.  Up to 45 boxes of eggs are sold to local people each week, an estimated 500 people visit or see the animals weekly and the community has pulled together to care for them.

Community centre staff, local schools, including the next door Henley Green Primary School, Tic Toc Nursery School, a youth group, an older persons’ lunch club, people attending adult education classes, faith groups, people with learning difficulties and other local residents all contribute towards keeping this project going strong.

John Marriott, 74, who lives in Henley Green and volunteers at Henley Green Community Centre, was one of the leaders of the venture, along with fellow resident Lorna Round.  John said: “We are so pleased that we won, we couldn’t believe it when our name was read out.  The project has really turned our community around.  Before we didn’t have much to be proud about, and now our chickens are a local talking point.  People come from across Coventry to visit us and residents have started cooking more from scratch as they’ve been motivated by the fresh eggs.

“Somehow word of what we’re doing has spread and over the past year we’ve had people from 15 other community groups from around the UK visit us to get advice on how to set up a similar scheme in their area.  I’m really proud to share our tips and now that we’ve won this award that number may go up more.  It’s great for Henley Green to be well known for something so positive.”

Terry Rollings, customer and community involvement manager, at Whitefriars, said: “The great thing about this project is that it has helped more than just the animals.  An independent study has found that for every £1 invested in this project, more than £12 in benefits have been gained for the community in social return on investment.

“Young and old work on this scheme, which has helped to break down barriers, in fact the 20 most prolific helpers range in age from 15 – 70s.  We also know that anti-social behaviour has decreased.  Before the project started eight fruit trees at the community centre and four windows were vandalised.  Since the project started there have been no incidents.  

“Another fantastic by product of the project is that revenue for the community centre has more than doubled thanks to the increased money generated by its café because of the increased number of people who attend to visit the animals.

“The residents have done an amazing job.  Congratulations to everyone that has been involved.”

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