The Big Lottery Fund invests in CoLab Dudley

We have good news. The Big Lottery Fund has agreed to invest in our Colab Dudley work. CoLab Dudley is a social lab in Dudley town centre which has developed through work led by Dudley CVS over the last eight years, and has been made possible through a collaboration with Gather Dudley CIC and UnLtd.

The investment from the Big Lottery Fund means that we can continue to build a platform of trust in the town, one which makes it easier for people to grow and maintain fruitful relationships.

The money will help us over the next three years: in part with resources, but also it gives us a boost to know that Big Lottery appreciates this way of working.

We’ve been talking to the Lottery team for nearly a year. The funding is not for us to provide services but to support the skills, approach, ideas, space and lab team that help connect people in Dudley.

Emergent Cultures

For the last two years, CoLab Dudley has been experimenting and making that case to build this platform, starting in the town centre. Together we make it easier for people in Dudley to create, share, make, do and learn things together.

This means that at the heart of our work is relationships. The friendships formed when care is taken to welcome everyone. The pleasure people experience in passing on knowledge and practical skills to others. Connections between local creatives who make, perform, exhibit and trade spaces which are open to all. Support and encouragement shared between emerging and established social entrepreneurs making change in the same town. Our powerful relationships with place and the natural world. A collective sense of possibility nurtured when we turn ideas into experiments and learn together.

In the last year CoLab has helped with: Trade Schools, Crafternoons, Make Fest, Do Fest, Edible Dudley and many other ways in which people come together. It takes time, effort, ideas and persistence and helps people shape their lives in many ways, as the audio clip below highlights.

These are some of the elements of the platform:

Place and Spaces: We create access to all kinds of spaces and support for people to connect, collaborate, test and incubate activities, projects and social enterprises. Our focus is currently on the High Street and St Thomas Quarter.

Inspiration and innovation: The lab draws on and shares inspiration from anywhere where people are collaborating and sharing to create social good. The inspiration acts as a curio and a catalyst for people who want to try something new or change things around them and their family or friends.

Design and Detectorism: The platform approach brings together two very conscious ways or working: we use simple design methods to help people explore what they want to do and test and experiment with their ideas. We also encourage people to actively watch what is happening, record it and learn from that, a method we call this detectorism.

Network Weaving: The spaces and the things people do together help create relationships. In the lab we also deliberately think about networks of people and consciously connect people up.

You can follow progress with our lab experiments and interact with our research through the CoLab Dudley publication on Medium.

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