Background & History
Barlow Moor Community Association Limited (BMCA) is a community based, independent partnership group working in a deprived area of Manchester. It is managed by local residents, representatives of local organisations and local councillors. Advisors include the Anglican Diocese and Manchester Youth Service, the Manchester Regeneration Team, the NHS, and Greater Manchester Police.
The Association was established in the 1980s in response to the concerns of local people. It has developed considerably since that time, the most significant step forward being the campaign for a purpose built centre, which was finally opened in 1991.
Consultation with local people revealed a need for affordable childcare for under 5s, a desire for older people to have a meeting of their own, and for women to have a group, at which they could try out new ideas, and have some time solely for themselves. Training in childcare psychology and IT were also identified as being valuable. The outcome was the development of a playgroup, crèche facility, and a women’s group ( now ended) within the centre, as well as an over 50s lunch and social club, and the provision of training for local people in partnership with other organisations.
Subsequently the centre opened a Junior Club for 5-11 year olds; a Tool Hire scheme for homes and gardens, allowing people on low incomes to improve their immediate environment; and a Credit Union. Following a fire in 2008, which gutted a large part of the centre, the tool hire scheme was temporarily closed. In 2010 BMCA was a successful provider and coordinator of the Lottery funded Parktastic programme, bringing play to the parks of South Manchester. Many such activities, which involve local people in the planning as both volunteers and staff, improve social well-being by reducing isolation and, offering opportunities to pursue common interests and learn new things.
At the 2011 AGM a resolution was passed to close the Charity Barlow Moor Community Association and to re-open as Barlow Moor
Community Association limited. BMCA limited is a charitable company limited by guarantee. This change was supported by a 100% vote of those present.
The new Company is governed by its members, just as a commercial company is governed by its shareholders. In order to set up the Company the existing Directors acted as initial members, since it’s incorporation we have been actively recruiting additional members and as of September 2012, 44 local people have become full members who control the direction of BMCA Ltd., who will have the right vote at the AGMs
In 2011, Manchester City Council disestablished its Youth Service. BMCA Ltd has been commissioned to deliver Youth provision at a local and district level. This has seen the establishment and development of provision both at our centre and the Ladybarn Community Centre.
Many of the services have been, and continue to be, delivered in partnership with other local groups as part of local improvement in efficiency and communication. The Association has worked particularly closely with other voluntary organisations –including Ladybarn Community Association, the Chorlton Youth Project and South Strategic Youth Partnership. statutory organisations including , Southway Housing Trust, South Manchester Regeneration Team, the Manchester Adult Education Service, the South Manchester Healthy Living Network, and Manchester Library Service.
Senior Staff from BMCA Limited sit on City Wide strategic networks to inform and influence commissioning strategies, these include: Manchester Community Centres Network (MCCN), Manchester Play Network (MPN), Manchester Playgroup Network (MPGN) and Valuing older people network. This enables us to represent the views of local people to “decisions makers” about service development within our area of benefit .
Evidence of the impact local people can have on improving their services is evidenced by our older peoples’ group, Barlow Moor Voices, working with the community to influence the Primary Care Trust (PCT) to improve the Health Centre premises that made access difficult and is now situated in accessible, welcoming accommodation on the ground floor at the heart of the Estate. The people of Barlow Moor, in particular those who find it difficult to access specialist advice, benefit from the strength of the project and staff experience. The community association contributes to the stabilisation of an otherwise disjointed community which has high indices of deprivation.
This success has spurred the local community onto protect existing services, prior to its destruction by Fire in 2008, the Library, including a community meeting room, together with the loss of the learning hub facilities in 2011 and the planned closure of Merseybank Library and campaigning for improved services including the Local Housing, Library and improved Community Centre facilities culminating in the joint partnership with SHS, SMR, Wates, to build a new Community Centre on the land adjacent to. The local community is an integral participator in the project, involved in the management and development of the building and its services, a New Build Focus Group was formed in the Summer of 2012 to foster a sense of ownership and belonging of the New Community Centre, and steer, oversee the project development.
We opened the doors on our new Community Centre building in January 2013 and since then we have gone on to enhance and expand the services we provide for our Community and have seen the introduction of Additional Play-schemes, Breakfast Clubs, Extended Library Opening hours, a Nursery provision that is now open 5 days a week. The new centre has been a catalyst for regeneration of the local shopping parade, and the introduction of street furniture and planting by Southway Housing and the Merseybank Estate Residents Group.