23rd March, 2018

On Wednesday 14 March 2018, Nova hosted the Wakefield Community Anchor Network (CAN) conference - #CANCon at St Catherine’s Church and Centre.

#CANCon - Empowering Wakefield Communities

We would like to say a great big thank you to everyone who presented at the event, and all of the 84 attendees. We hope that you left feeling inspired!

The Community Anchor Programme in Wakefield

First up on the agenda was Mary Roche, Nova Adviser - Community & Enterprise Development. Mary opened the conference by explaining how Wakefield CAN came to be – in 2015 Public Health at Wakefield Council commissioned Nova to establish a Community Anchor Network, in order to improve community resilience. Since then, the network has been established and we have found strong pacemakers, a great peer support network, and lots of innovative practice and real evidence of social change.


Community Anchors and Culture Cures – Improving mental health through the arts

Jackie Craig, Stride Theatre, showcased the work that Stride had done as part of the Culture Cures project. The project looked at child illiteracy, linking in with the Dolly Parton Imagination library and showed fantastic partnership working between community anchors, Culture Cures, Stride Theatre and the Dolly Parton Imagination library.

Community Anchors and Care Home Vanguard – Addressing social isolation

Sheena Ibbotson, Health and Wellbeing Project Coordinator – St George’s Lupset, shared the successes of the community anchors and the Care Home Vanguard project, addressing social isolation.

Community Anchors and Capital Projects – Asset based community development

Alison Drake and Lorna Malkin, Castleford Heritage Trust exhibited the Queen’s Mill, a community asset owned by Castleford Heritage Trust. They spoke about how they worked with both professionals and local people to develop the vison for the mill. They also shared the three key themes to their success – vision, versatility, and volunteers!

Keynote Speaker

Tony Armstrong, CEO at Locality gave an inspiring and informative keynote speech on powerful communities and strong economies. Furthermore, Tony spoke about the ways in which Locality support community anchors:

  • Offer support
  • Lobby/influence
  • Provide opportunities and resources
  • Set up inspirational visits
  • Create opportunities for community anchors to speak to each other


The sector’s role – completing the jigsaw to meet the needs of the District

Ian Cockerill, CEO at Nova, stated why community anchors are important to our communities:

  • They reach out to different sections of communities
  • They break down barriers
  • They use the wisdom of local people

#CANCon Question Time

Next came #CANCon Question Time. The panel was made up of:

  • Mike Holt – Chair, St George’s Lupset
  • Anna Middlesmiss – Interim Director of Public Health, Wakefield Council
  • Mohammed Ayub – General Manager, Lightwaves Community Trust and Next Generation
  • Tony Armstrong – CEO, Locality

Attendees had the chance to ask the panel questions regarding the community anchors network.

Community anchors in partnership with the Public Sector

Antony Sadler, Service Director Communities – Wakefield Council spoke about the importance of the voluntary, community and social enterprise sector in Wakefield, listing various important developments, such as:

  • Care Home Vanguard
  • Live Well Wakefield Service
  • Community Safety Network
  • VCSE involvement in Strengthening Communities Framework

Overall, it was a fantastic event which got lots of good conversations started, with many positive ideas to take away! Wakefield CAN will be continuing, so keep a look out for further information.

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