Around 50 local community leaders packed into the conference room at the Beehive in Grays on Thursday 20 June 2013 at the launch event of an new initiative faciliated by Transformation Thurrock with the support of Thurrock Council.

The delegates included a number of ministers from across the borough’s church, other faith leaders, council officers, as well as voluntary sector and other change agency representatives.

After registration and refreshments, the event was opened by Colin Baker and a message of support from Thurrock Council was given by Cllr Lynn Worrell, portfolio holder for Transformation and Communities, and a longterm Tilbury resident working for the Prince’s Trust.

Colin gave some background to the Thurrock Celebrates vision, with specific reference to the governments Wellbeing Survey. It was in reaction to this survey that the idea of some sort of ‘Wellbeing Conference’ was first dreamed up, to come in the opposite spirit of the borough being tarnished as a ‘cesspit’ (The Guardian).

Tim Harrold then made the link with then to now, mentioning the ethos of Transformation Thurrock and the inspiration provided by the recent Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) courses that he and Andy Blakey attended, along with many delegates at the Visioning Event.

Best Kept Secrets

TC6Andy then went through a number of ‘good news’ partnerships that exist in the borough, calling them “Best Kept Secrets’, because most of them recieve no publicity or recogntion. These are:

  • Thurrock Foodbank – working in Tesco and Sainsburys; supported by Thurrock Council; with funding from the Cinnamon Network
  • Thurrock Lunchtime Club at Quarry Hill Primary School with funding from the Cinnamon Network
  • The Besom in Thurrock (providing help for the poor) and Thurrock Christian Fellowship
  • Bar’N’Bus start-up funded by Essex Police
  • Chafford Hundred Youth Club – Harris Academy and Community Church Chafford Hundred
  • ROC Cafe – Fresh Hope Community and Redeeming Our Communities
  • Coach mentoring in Harris Academy, The Grays Sschool Media Arts College and Hassenbrook Academy
  • Aveley Youth Centre – Aveley Village Community Forum and the Big Lottery Fund

Andy explained that there are many other good news stories out there – the purpose and aim of Thurrock Celebrates is to bring those stories to the forefront and release them to the public through social media.

TC3National Perspective

Adam Dyer (right), of Yeovil Community Church (YCC), then gave the Cinnamon Network national perspective. Key to his address was the story of how his church became involved in helping families with problems emerge from dependence upon council generated support. This process started with just one person visiting a few families, whio all benefitted from those visits, and the council taking note – they then asked the church if they would be prepared to take on more cases. A group from the church were then provided with training and a caseload of 200 families (in a population of 40,000) were given to the church. YCC now run the that whole side of local social work in partnership with the council. This served as a superb example of how the voluntary / faith sector can engage with the local community and successfully partner with local authority.


Tim then facilitated a session of ‘speed dating’, an idea based on one of the ABCD activities. Delegates were asked to find others not in their organisation and simply ask each other the question, “What am I doing that can help you?”

The purpose of this was to generate new informal partnerships from which new good news stories can come.

Each couple had five minutes to talk and write ideas down, and this excercise was repeated four times. All the filled-in sheets were handed in for collation and the results will be emailed out to each delegate. The conversations got quite loud and involved!

Colin then asked everyone to fill in feedback forms, again discussing with others on their tables. Here are a few of the comments:

  • TC5“Good to liaise with other services.” Sue Bradish, Health Improvement Officer, Public Health, Thurrock Council
  • “I felt it was a really positive event with genuine engagement from the council and an openness to the church engaging more strategically for the future of Thurrock. This was so encouraging to see.” Adam Dyer, Cinnamon Network & Yeovil Community Church
  • “The diversity of participants, their enthusiasm for the concept and a genuine desire to see positive outcomes. Thurrock is in good hands because there is a lot of people who care enough to act!” Dai Franks, retired teacher & Grays Baptist Church
  • “Great idea!” Rob Groves, Community Evangelist & Fresh Hope Community, Stanford-le-Hope
  • “I’m impressed by all the good work that is happening.” Helen Parry, Corps Officer, Grays Salvation Army
  • “The event was a great opportunity for people to make contacts/network.” Paul Peterson, Senior Reporter, Yellow Advertiser
  • “I would like to say thank you for creating this opportunity for creating this opportunity for people connecting with each other and be able to help each other to build a better place around us.” Perola Sestini, Thurrock Lifestyle Solutions
  • “Good to meet new people, make connections.” Andrea Winterflood, Community Development Manager, Thurrock Council

Other feedback included suggestions which the team are responding to individually.

What next?

Andy outlined the process for moving the Thurrock Celebrates vision from this point to becoming a reality across the borough. This involves:

  • TC logo jpegthe Thurrock Celebrates website going live – cut and paste into your browser
  • starting up the Thurrock Celebrates Facebook page and other social media
  • training on ‘Writing and Filming Your Good News Stories’ at Thurrock Adult Education Centre on Thursday 18 (evening) and Friday 19 July (morning)
  • a dedicated Thurrock Celebrates YouTube channel for all your videoed good new stories
  • the Thurrock Celebrates Showcase event at some point in the future, hopefully in early 2014, at somewhere like the Civic Hall

Final comments were made by Natalie Warren, Community Development Manager for Thurrock Council, whom we thank for her help and encouragement in making the Thurrock Celebrates Visioning Event happe