“My name is Claire Johnson and I’m the Community Development and Learning Coordinator for the Hangleton and Knoll Project. I manage the delivery of the project’s community development and learning work.
The Hangleton and Knoll Project works in partnership with residents to access and develop opportunities and resources and to facilitate positive change as identified by the residents of our communities. We deliver award-winning youth and community development work, adult education, employment, and IT support.
We’re a community development charity based in the Hangleton and Knoll ward of Brighton and Hove. We support everyone in the community to achieve their goals and aspirations using a community development approach across all our work areas.
We’ve been a part of the community since 1983. We work for the community, with the community, and are managed by the community.
Despite the pandemic we continue to support our community. Our work is based on establishing long-term meaningful relationships and we facilitate regular discussions with groups and residents to ensure we maintain regular support and identify needs.
The main challenges for our community members right now are relieving social isolation and looking after their health and wellbeing at a time when social connections and activities are limited.
Since the pandemic we have transitioned our work online and, where possible, supported community groups to transition online too. We know there are barriers for some to access online activities so to ensure we reach the wider community we have been telephoning people and offering one-to-one support where required.
Our highlight last year was the Telling Our Stories Project. We worked in partnership with RISE, The Hangleton and Knoll Multi-Cultural Women’s Group, and New Writing South to develop an innovative project empowering women from multi-cultural backgrounds to increase their sense of wellbeing and improve their mental health through telling their rich, diverse, and often poignant stories.
We arranged for RISE and New Writing South to visit the group so that they could build relationships with the women and ensure their needs were met in the planning and delivery of the project.
We organised two taster sessions, one in the daytime and one in the evening to enable maximum participation and feedback from the women, this then formed the development of a five week course delivered through our Community Learning service and facilitated by author Sharon Duggal from New Writing South with support from the other partners.
At the start of the project, Sharon gave each of the participants a notebook and folder to collect items and short pieces of writing so they could begin telling their stories. Then, over the next few weeks, she used a series of exercises and games to prompt and enable the women to recall often long forgotten memories, share these with the group, and record chapters of their lives through words, photos, images and items. Nine women took part in the project and included women from Mauritius, Singapore, Iran, India, and Kenya.
The sessions were initially held at St Richard’s Community Centre but we had to develop a new way of delivering the sessions during the pandemic. For example, we created a booklet with prompts which we posted out to participants to enable them to write at home which we then followed up with online zoom sessions.
The impact of the Telling Our Stories project was great. We had participants say,
“I miss my family a lot these days and I am feeling not well sometimes but this workshop helped me to talk about what I love and belong to and was really excellent.”
“Such rich stories with journeys from all over the world. Open, honest writing and sharing of deeply personal experiences.”
“I enjoyed everything about the group. Great experience, chances, opportunity and more. Thank you for this opportunity to be part of something awesome!”
Community projects like these are invaluable. They create a safe space for women from ethnically diverse communities to come together, build relationships, be creative, develop new skills, and share their experiences.”
The Hangleton and Knoll Project works in partnership with residents to access and develop opportunities and resources and to facilitate positive change as identified by the residents of our communities.