ONE Haverhill Partnership has been making a difference in the town for 10 years
Ten years ago, a quartet of community-minded people from Haverhill visited the offices of the Department for Communities and Local Government to sell their vision.
Haverhill was bidding to become one of only 12 pilots across the country to become one of the Government’s new neighbourhood community budget programmes.
Over the last decade, the decision to offer Haverhill the project – a move which led to the creation of ONE Haverhill Partnership – has been repaid time and time again.
Whether it was an explosion of apprenticeship opportunities, the adoption of a hugely successful social prescribing project or the simple promotion of volunteers, businesses and lots more, ONE Haverhill Partnership has been at the heart of championing the town for the last 10 years.
But the beauty of the whole project, and the reason behind its many successes, is the ‘partnership’.
A partnership of all three tiers of local council working together, of the education sector, local employers, of charities working with police, and so much more.
ONE Haverhill Partnership has no legislative power, but its strength comes from bringing together the right people to make things happen.
Sarah Howard, former chair and one of the four town representatives who visited the DCLG offices 10 years ago, recalls: “I think the reason our bid was successful was that we demonstrated very clearly that all the organisations coming together as One Haverhill were committed and already doing some great work.
“We already had lots of fantastic people in the town sharing the same desire to get things done and this pilot project gave us an opportunity to formalise what was happening.
“ONE Haverhill Partnership got together all the key players and everyone had an equal place around the table.
“We had to account for how we were spending the money, but we also had some independence to ensure the money was spent in the best way.”
Under the chairmanship of local councillor Anne Gower and then Mrs Howard, the organisation wasted little time in ‘getting things done’.
Improving youth skills and opportunities was an early priority and they set themselves a target of finding positions for 10 local apprenticeships.
Under the expertise and drive of youth skills manager, Karen Chapple, they sourced 50 within the first year.
This led to the inception of the Apprenticeship Awards as employees and employers came together in an annual celebration.
Mrs Chapple said: “I was always passionate about supporting young people with educational and employment opportunities.
“At the time, the community felt young people deserved better opportunities and more support was needed to help them take positive next steps.
“This strand of ONE Haverhill Partnership, delivered by Haverhill Town Council, supported that and the fantastic results have been a real success story of ONE Haverhill Partnership.
“Now the service has evolved to continue to meet the needs of the community and we currently offer projects that support young people with low mood and anxiety. We offer a bespoke service to ensure we positively support more than 150 young people a year.”
But they didn’t stop there. Another key strand, this time led by West Suffolk Council, was the Partnership delivering the Haverhill Town Centre Masterplan.
Over the course of three years of consultation, more than 1,000 people directly engaged, another 20,000 were reached on Facebook and there was almost 26,000 words of text from people sharing their views.
Adopted in September 2015, the aspirational Masterplan document set out a vision for town centre growth and development over the period to 2031.
While Mrs Howard stepped down, ONE Haverhill Partnership, now under the chairmanship of John Mayhew, continued to go from strength to strength.
Haverhill was chosen as the host for a new pilot social prescribing scheme. In keeping with the partnership mantra, Haverhill LifeLink saw coordinators work with local organisations and partners to connect people with the many social activities, clubs and groups on offer within the local community.
The success – and importance – quickly became apparent with participants gaining confidence, reduced loneliness, getting back to employment and volunteering, helping physical and mental health as well as reducing debt.
In December 2018, Haverhill LifeLink was a beneficiary of a £660,000 social prescribing grant which allowed the LifeLink project to be expanded into neighbouring West Suffolk towns and villages.
In the same year, ONE Haverhill Partnership worked with George Vestey, then High Sheriff of Suffolk, to host a garden party celebration of local volunteers and unsung heroes.
Following on from this fantastic event, ONE Haverhill Partnership was determined to open a new volunteer centre, which opened in June 2021, delivered by the Town Council.
Reflecting on this time as chair and the success of the organisation, Mr Mayhew said: “The strength of ONE Haverhill Partnership has always been in the word ‘partnership’.
“Getting the right people together to achieve things but also identifying the right projects to support and make a difference and enabling the best-placed partner to lead a project.
“These might be smaller things that all add up to improving our local environment or working with partners to secure funding or pilot projects that come to Haverhill and support our local residents.
“I was very proud to be chairman of ONE Haverhill Partnership for five years. But any success wouldn’t have been possible without the support of all our board members, partners and local community.”
While the pandemic slowed ONE Haverhill Partnership’s work, the organisation used its lines of communication to signpost to support services.
And they didn’t slow up completely, paving the way for the Heart of Haverhill, born out of another OHP task group, which was set up to promote the town centre and drive footfall.
This brings the OHP story to the present day and a new chairman, Andy Hunter, headteacher of Samuel Ward Academy.
While hugely endorsing a successful first decade, Mr Hunter said the anniversary gave ONE Haverhill Partnership a chance to review, take stock, and then look forward.
He explained: “A tenth anniversary in any organisation is a bit like a crossroads. Rightly, it is a chance to celebrate and say thank you.
“But we also want to take this milestone as an opportunity to look forward and engage the local community about what our priorities should be over the next 10 years.
“What projects can ONE Haverhill Partnership realistically get involved in and actually make a difference?
“The one thing that won’t change is that we have always been about doing what is best for people who live, work and visit Haverhill.”
Over the next few months, ONE Haverhill Partnership will be engaging with board members, individuals, local groups and organisations to ascertain their priorities for the next 10 years.
To find out more, get involved or share your views about future priorities, please visit www.onehaverhill.co.uk or email firstname.lastname@example.org