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.