17. Carlton Mill - Sowerby Bridge Forum
Carlton Mill is a flagship project of the Sowerby Bridge Forum's SRB scheme. It is a community facility in a converted mill in the town centre which aims to contribute to the town centre's regeneration and to provide access to information about educational opportunities and public services.
This is delivered through a 'First Stop Shop' staffed mainly by the Housing Department, creating a single point of contact for the public to receive information and guidance. There is also a new, more accessible Further Education Centre to encourage lifelong participation.
The early phase of the lifelong programme has focused on putting in place the infrastructure within which to offer an extensive and effective programme of education and training. Through a creative process, the Council has enabled a local developer to renovate an old mill in order to provide residential accommodation, office space for council services, and an adult and community education facility. The First Stop Shop offers drop-in information services, as well as access to the adult/community education facility two floors below.
The adult education facility is well furnished, and set up to enable an effective adult education programme to be delivered. This includes one IT room which has been set up by the College. There are also childcare facilities, a refreshment area, and a meeting room which can be used by local community or business groups. Project literature indicates that the facility is working to near full capacity.
The only problem is that the facility is currently not well sign-posted: residents who live in the two floors above the Council offices have complained about the signs to both the First Stop Shop and the adult education facility. However a solution acceptable to all parties has now been identified.
The new technology centre is being built at present (due to open late 1999). However, it is already apparent that the IT equipment will cost more than was originally estimated. The school is discussing with the LEA ways of addressing this issue.
The training audit undertaken to identify business needs is already being responded to, and when the new IT facilities are ready, more of the identified training needs may be met.
Background - Problems to be Tackled
The Sowerby Bridge Forum is a cross-sectoral partnership formed in response to the decline in employment in manufacturing in the town, and its consequent struggle to find a new role and identity. These problems were compounded by the exclusion of the area from a number of economic, social and health initiatives from which surrounding areas had benefited.
Carlton Mill, the project, has its origins in concerns by local providers such as the Council the TEC and Calderdale College about the level of educational attainment in the local schools, and the facilities available to the community for lifelong learning. This has been related to employment problems, attitudes towards the local environment and to community participation. In line with government thinking, they felt that lifelong learning underpinned both economic and community development, and that was where investment should be encouraged.
The mill is opposite the old adult education facility. The council had, for many years, been looking at options for bringing the mill back into use. A private developer took the derelict property on for a nominal fee and provided 14 flats on the three upper floors. SRB funding enabled the three lower floors to be restored for the First Stop Shop and the new adult education facility. The council now leases these facilities back from the developers.
The aim of the Sowerby Bridge Forum's Lifelong Learning strategy is 'to develop a lifelong learning culture by improving further education facilities, increasing course provision, meeting learners in their own environment, and the development of transferable skills and extension of basic and key skills.'
This addresses three of the SRB strategic objectives:
The conversion of Carlton Mill into an operational adult and community education facility, with First Stop Shop supporting council services, is complete, and in fact was open ahead of schedule, in June 1998.
This new facility is providing a range of adult and community education programmes, in partnership with Calderdale College. It includes a crèche area, and has an IT suite which can also be used by local businesses. The College undertook an audit of the training needs of local businesses and residents, and this is informing training provision. It is expected that the new Adult Education Centre will provide relatively basic IT training. Anyone needing to progress to more advanced levels will transfer to the new Technology Centre at Sowerby Bridge High School, also SRB funded, which is due to open in late Autumn 1999.
Additional outcomes include: