The Big Society Award

Blacon Community Trust, focused on ‘Building a better Blacon’, is the latest winner of Prime Minister’s Big Society Award.

Set up in 1984, the aim of the Trust is to build a better area by involving its 16,000-strong community in finding solutions to local problems.  As well as providing education and welfare support to children, young people and their families, more innovative projects include a furniture reuse project, minibus service for elderly residents, a programme to encourage cycling and a research project involving six universities to reduce energy use for Blacon as a model for other UK communities.

Successful Summer and Winter Festivals organised by the Trust are seen as important annual events for the community attracting over 4,000 visitors.  Blacon Community Trust has also led residents in taking part in Sustainable Blacon’s Low Carbon Communities Challenge, a national scheme funded by the Department of Energy and Climate Change to reduce energy consumption. Estimates show household energy use has fallen significantly in the first year.  Last year 102 volunteers were engaged in their sustainability work alone.

The Team at the Big Society Award
Blacon Community Trust was nominated by Cheshire West and Chester Council, recognising and supporting all of the hard work that the charity has supported in transforming Blacon over the last 27 years.

The Prime Minister said:

“Blacon Community Trust has worked incredibly hard to transform the area, engaging local residents and organisations, and building a real sense of community spirit.

“Through its wide range of services and support for innovative projects such as Sustainable Blacon – showing residents how they can cut their energy bills as well as helping the environment – the Trust has shown how a strong community can make a huge difference, and have absolutely succeeded in their aim to make Blacon a better place to be. Congratulations to everyone at the Trust, the volunteers and the whole community. They are a fantastic example of what the Big Society can achieve.”

Welcoming the award, Clare Babbs, Chair of Blacon Community Trust said:

“It’s an honour for Blacon Community Trust to receive the Big Society Award from the Prime Minister. Blacon Community Trust has worked very hard recently to ensure sustainability.  It’s great that the drive and commitment of the residents, volunteers and organisations working in Blacon, together with that of our staff, has been recognised.  Blacon is a brilliant community to live and work in.  It has real heart. Organisations make things possible but it’s local people here that make things happen – and keep them going.”

Presenting the Award at the Sustainable Blacon Convention, Communities Minister Andrew Stunell said:

“Blacon Community Trust and Sustainable Blacon have shown us what can be achieved when local people are fully involved in making the decisions that affect their lives.

“Their tireless efforts to sow the seeds of strong partnerships with the local community have reaped big rewards for people in Blacon  – whether tackling abandoned vehicles, transforming local shops and services, or saving residents money through green upgrades to their homes. I congratulate them on their achievement and urge other community groups to follow their brilliant example.”

Cheshire West and Chester Council Leader Councillor Mike Jones said:

”This prestigious honour is being given because Blacon Community Trust is the Big Society in action. I would like to send Trust members my warmest congratulations for the honour which is testament to their tremendous hard work over the past 27 years, work which is renowned locally and nationally.”

Blacon Councillor Carolyn Graham, who is a board member of Sustainable Blacon, said:

“Blacon has a strong tradition of community engagement and community spirit and this award recognises that this is the corner stone of what makes Blacon special. Congratulations to all involved.”

(November 2011)


Blacon Presses Apples

Transition Chester had a public apple pressing outside the Spar shop at the Parade,  Blacon last Saturday 15th October.

Local residents bought along their apples and pears and took away freshly pressed juice. During the morning more that 180 litres of juice was pressed by around 30 local residents using the apple crusher and press that Transition Chester had brought along to the event.

Transition Chester stand at the apple press
Simon Brown from the group said: “it was a wonderful event with lots of people getting involved – we even had two 10 year old girls come along to our stand with apples they had picked from their gran’s garden – they chopped up the apples, crushed them ready for the press and they even had a turn pressing the pulp. To see their delight as they skipped away with their plastic bottles full of fresh juice, swigging it as they left was a joy to see!”

“Our last public event will be at the Kingsway Shops, on Kingsway, Newton outside the Community Café from 10.00 to 2.00 pm – people can bring along their apples or pears (cookers or eaters, windfalls or picked) together with containers for the juice and they will be able to take away their freshly pressed juice.”

Transition Chester also loans out the press and crusher to community groups or schools as well as to local residents for a nominal fee. The Transition Chester website at shows when the press is available and contact can be made via the website.

(October 2011)


University Challenge

Six universities are now conducting research with Sustainable Blacon in Chester to find out how we can all help in the fight against climate change and cut our bills.  The universities which are all at the cutting edge of climate change research from across the UK are: Chester, East Anglia, Oxford, Oxford Brookes, Southampton and Strathclyde.

University of Chester will be the first to make its report into the Blacon Energy Management Programme, part of the DECC Low Carbon Communities Challenge in the area.  95 households completed the year-long programme to see how people could cut their energy use and bills by up to a fifth.  The results will be made available at the Blacon Sustainability Convention on 1st November at University of Chester:

Professor Roy Alexander of University of Chester said: “Reducing the emissions of greenhouse gases produced by the fuels we use to heat and power our homes is critical for our long term future.  At the same time people are interested in saving money by saving energy and in getting to know others in their area better.  The Blacon Energy Management Programme provides an excellent opportunity to find out what works in helping people to reduce their energy consumption and it has important lessons for us all.”

Ged Edwards: Chief Executive of Sustainable Blacon said:

“We are pleased to welcome the universities to the area.  Blacon has a fantastic community which is changing the area.  Blacon is at the forefront of climate change work in the UK and the Government has described this work as inspirational.  We want other communities to come, to hear and to see for themselves what they can do and so take the path to a safer, cheaper and better future for us all.”

Rosemary Burns: local resident and Chairperson of Blacon’s Image and Infrastructure Group said:

“Blacon has always been a strong community not frightened to have a go and make a difference.  We are deeply concerned about the environment in all of its aspects here and there are many people here who are struggling with their energy bills.”

(September 2011)