West End Morecambe Big Local


A Summary of Previous Years


West End Morecambe is one of 150 resident-led partnerships across the UK overseen by Local Trust, a National Lottery initiative. Each partnership was granted funding over ten years spent through regular Action Plans which outline its intentions. These must be approved by Local Trust before anything can go ahead. West End Morecambe’s first plan in 2015 achieved some positives but also started a pattern of ups and downs for WEM, where the challenges of finding consensus and unity in the West End has proved as difficult as the wider issues faced by the community. 

Part of Big Local’s ethos is about learning through mistakes, and we have tested that philosophy. Yet in having faced those ups and downs it has made WEM stronger. Our latest plan now includes a goal to not get bogged down in grant giving and the micro politics which has dogged previous activity. We are also now looking to work with those interested in challenging some of the dynamics that undermine what’s needed in the West End. In part that requires WEM to be honest and reflect the strengths and weaknesses of our own organisation and its history. A brief summary of that can be found below. 


March 2020 to Summer 2022: Covid till now

Just as we were ready with a new plan of action, work and events, the pandemic arrived. A once in a generation calamity that rocked our home, country and the world. All the Big Local projects, including ours, struggled to adjust to the challenges and restrictions placed upon us but even so we managed to deliver some local priorities. We supported a local emergency fund, helped set up a major project tackling food poverty and initiated a unique package of support for children and families at our two local primary schools. 

Down time during Covid 19 also allowed us to begin developing a new Action Plan. One that would fundamentally change our approach. Despite Covid restrictions we were able to talk with local people and organisations and find the time to create a plan that covered several key aspects of need in the West End that no one had previously addressed.

Our new plan also includes a review of the last plan’s work, and the strengths and weaknesses we are trying to address in how things work locally. You can see all that in the 2022 Action Plan.


November 2019: Change from ‘Million’ to ‘Morecambe’

While drawing up our 2018 – 2021 plan was costly for the partners in terms of volunteer time, it was enjoyable and team building. Disagreements were constructive and all felt engaged. Everyone was proud to have worked on a plan that was met with enthusiasm by Local Trust. Progress was made including a healthy take-up of small community grants, and some larger projects were agreed, and the hard work of some on the partnership even helped attract a new £200,000 project into the West End.

However, divisions also began to surface that had their roots in earlier pre-2018 conflicts and despite appeals for constructive dialogue and mediation we faced an intractable situation whereby one member was suspended and then resigned, and two other members were asked to leave. Unfortunately, this took up months of time where it was impossible to operate effectively. It also created confusion for those outside of the partnership as we needed some private space to resolve the internal dispute, and rumours in the community only added complications. Through patience, time, and effort we again got through it and also felt a new resolve to get on with the job. In late 2019 we decided to change our name from ‘West End Million’ to ‘West End Morecambe Big Local,’ in part because the word million kept reinforcing the perception of WEM as just a bag filled with money to fight over. 


July 2018: YEAR 3 Action Plan

At the beginning of the year, the West End Million began a full review of past activity and started developing a new plan for future work. Lancaster District Community & Voluntary Solutions (LDCVS) were chosen to be a new Local Trusted Organisation and by June a new Action Plan was submitted to the national Big Local. It was fully endorsed a short time later and activity began to relaunch the West End Million. 


June 2017: YEAR 2 Action Plan

After some discussion a second Action Plan proposed carrying on with the current themes along with one new area of work that had been highlighted through consultations. A budget of £123,000 was proposed. However, the national Big Local was unclear as to the process or methodology used to explain this and the funding were put on hold. Whilst two small areas of costs were approved the decision was made to fully review and discuss how West End Million might need to re-structure. In October, a new Big Local Rep joined, and a fresh look was taken as to how West End Million might move positively forward. It was agreed to accept the mistakes that had taken place but there was a need to learn and positively change. The partnership went through some internal changes, and several partners, including the Local Trusted Organisation (responsible with day-to-day assistance in delivering funding) stepped down.


March 2016: YEAR 1 Action Plan Begins

The first year’s Action Plan had four themes (1) Housing, (2) Young People, (3) Festivals and (4) Enterprise and a range of sub-groups were set up to act upon the plan. The partnership also set up a community grants fund. Over the year some positive work was achieved and there were many smaller successes. A great deal was learnt about the challenges of community partnership working but an urgency to deliver funding and some imbalance in the way the partnership functioned meant some aims of Big Local were lost. Issues also arose around the lack of visible credit for funding and limited to zero evaluation. The partnership’s working groups (tasked with delivering the mini action plans) also declined. The partnership was made up of many local voices, both individuals and members of notable community groups, but collectively they failed to stop the focus drifting away from what it set out to achieve. By the end of the first year Community Engagement was underspent by 53%, but Festivals was overspent by 168%. That didn’t include various other creative projects, and despite the Community Profile only noting a handful of suggestions to use art and creativity to enhance the West End. West End Million funding did go to a number of projects which achieved some great activity but overall, the partnership took a learning curve that was as much on how not to do things as how to do things successfully. 


September 2015: West End Million (WEM) Partnership formed

A new community partnership was set up as West End Million and tasked with rolling out the Big Local programme in the West End. With oversight of a Big Local representative, the partnership worked to create a first-year plan. The partnership involved local people as well as representatives from many West End community organisations.  Locally based More Music was chosen to be the Local Trusted Organisation responsible for day-to-day assistance in delivering funding for the partnership.


December 2012: Applying for Big Local in the West End, Morecambe

A temporary Steering Group was set up with start-up funding and drawing together different volunteers working with the support of a Big Local Representative. A wide range of ongoing consultation and conversations at events and door-knocking took place. There was some to-and-fro in developing a consensus on how the project should work and so finding a clear group direction took some time. By July 2015 the group had completed its work in drawing together a large Community Profile and Plan for delivering the Big Local. Whilst not necessarily providing strategic direction the profile did provide a mandate to build on.