Quick Summary: An initiative that helped to revive the Railway Club in Laira, Plymouth, through community engagement.
Laira is neighbourhood that is about 20 minutes from the heart of Plymouth City where the main campus of the University is also located. This distance puts it slightly beyond the radius where many students find convenient accommodation to attend the University. Yet, quite of few families of Plymouth staff to reside within its boundaries. Laira and its neighbour Lipsom are ranked 18th of the 39 localities in Plymouth in terms of deprivation, making it uniquely representative of “middle Plymouth”.
Laira once boasted of a thriving community built around the railway industry. It seemed only natural that they would build a strong social identity around a Railway Club that bordered main rail depot. However with the passage of the years which has seen a steady decline of that industry in Plymouth, the Railway Club Laira itself has seen a progressive decline of its clientèle, leaving it in a rather dilapidated state at this moment in time.
So when a new stakeholder of the club approached MegaReach for assistance in reviving the club we it was nothing but a privilege to lend a helping hand. Following a series of discussions, which included meeting some of the patrons of the club, it was agreed that the most effective way to regenerate interest was to hold a series of monthly events that catered for the expressed needs of the community. The first such event, a family-themes “Health and Wellbeing Day” was held on Saturday 21st March 2015, bringing together a selection of local health-focused charities as well volunteers from the faculties of Architecture, Biomedical Science, Dentistry and Medicine from the Plymouth University. They were able to put together a very engaging programme that ranged from face painting to advice on daily oral hygiene, from an indoor zoo to line dancing. The volunteers also used the opportunity to pilot a questionnaire designed to gain an understanding of the community towards health surveys in preparation for the wider survey to be conducted during the Freedom Community Festival, which is described under a section labelled as such.
The success of this first encounter led to second country and western themed evening event, bringing together three live bands and two dance instructors, continuing on the main focus of promoting health through wellbeing. The proceeds from this event went to the Ponderosa Pony Rescue, a local special interest group. This was followed by an Arts and Crafts Fair in May 2015. The Railway Club Laira also hosted a group of visiting students from the Cardiff Sixth Form College in June 2015, who were hopeful of studying medicine in the near future. Feedback indicated that the students were uniformly appreciative of the opportunity to interact with the local community, in their own neighbourhood, in a uniquely social setting. MegaReach continues to be alert to such opportunities, as they contribute directly towards community cohesion, by bringing students into direct contact with residents of the city.
I joined Plymouth University as a medical student in September 2013. Outside medicine, I'm very passionate about dancing, fitness, cookery and baking. I have been holding casual dance classes, setting up cake sales and food stalls at various events to promote active lifestyles and raise money for various charities mentioned on our website. I find the Laira Initiative particularly attractive because it aims to promote health through wellbeing.
I took over the bar duties of the Railway Club Laira, late 2014. It boasts a proud history having once served a thriving railway community. I want to recreate that role where it serves as a hub helping to keep the community together + stimulate new exciting local partnerships. MegaReach, to me, is a key partner in helping identify local problems + supports our own solutions in combating them. I fully support the idea of MARDiTRePing having seen its impact on helping me realise my own goals.
Cakes by the dozen!
All these cakes were made by MARDiTRePers of Plymouth University in order to raise funds for the Sri Lankan tour of 2015. They went down a treat.
Smiles all round!
MegaReach events always try to reach across generations. Seems to have worked in this instant.
Shin in her element, teaching a few dance steps at the Health and Wellbeing day.
Our ballet stars in action
Afraid to say no one had offered to give them roles in any musicals or operas just yet...