Ideas for improvements and change were shared at Gainsborough community event

Improving play areas, education and employment prospects were the main issues raised by Gainsborough residents at the first ever Mutual Gain event.

Residents in the South West Ward gathered at the x-church to take part in the World Café, which is a new pilot project organised by Lincolnshire Police.

In small groups they discussed what they love about the area, what the issues they have and what steps can be taken to address concerns.

Mick and Sheila Goodall have both lived in the town for 30 years and said one of the things they love the most about the town is the ‘community’.

They discussed what they love about the area in small groups

However, Mick said: “One of the biggest issues affecting people is poverty and property poverty.

“People get stuck in a situation and they can’t seem to find a way out. I wanted to see if I can help to address this.

“Once we have pulled our ideas together we are on the first rung of the ladder and then we need to climb higher and higher. If we can set a little acorn we can make it grow.”

Sheila said: “I wanted to give a voice to people and speak up on their behalf.

Residents in the South West Ward gathered at the x-church to take part in the World Café

“There are less opportunities for people, 16 hour contracts and zero hour contracts, that is the level of employment for many and it is simply not enough."

Holly Baker, who attended the event with her two children, said: “I don’t think there is enough for children to do around here so all they can do is congregate on the street. The local park used to be nice but it was vandalised and is now full of dog poo.”

Mark Housley, operational superintendent, said: “We take your feedback very seriously and it will shape our thinking and planning going forward. It was also encouraging to see local agencies working together.

“I am hoping this is the start of some forward momentum for the ward. If we continue to work together we can make a difference.”

Claire Birch, High Sheriff of Lincolnshire also attended the event, which she described as ‘inspiring and eye catching’.

She said: “It is very interesting to be taking a ground-up approach, sitting and listening to people who live in the South West Ward. It is great to see the amount of volunteers and people of all ages getting involved.

“An important part of my role as High Sheriff is to recognise and celebrate those who have done exemplary things in the community and that is one of the reason I attended as I wanted to find out more about who is doing this in the area.”

Mary-Jane Storr, community co-ordinator at Lincolnshire Co-op, said: “We were delighted to be able to support an event which brings together people to tackle social issues within their community. It was a great opportunity to build connections with local people.”

A number of West Lindsey District Councillors attended the event including Coun Leslie Rollings, Coun Trevor Young, Coun Jim Snee, Coun Mandy Snee and Gainsborough Town Councillor Baptiste Velan.

Coun Rollings said: “Any opportunity to get people to come together to talk should be welcomed. What we want to see from this event is some action from the issues being raised.

"One lady said to me she would like somewhere to go to report crime without compromising herself, which is a good idea, like a safe space.”

Coun Jim Snee said: “During the pandemic people have relied on the community for support and we want this to continue, for people to open their doors to the community and keep those connections.”

Everything will be collated from the event into a report. Then a first round of funding will go ahead entitled ‘participatory budget’. There is a funding pot that projects can bid for.