Case Study: Jenny South, Column Community Events

Jenny South, Column Community Events

“Reclaim the power. Take the power back. There’s nothing to stop you doing it”. That’s the rallying cry of a Devonport businesswoman who’s determined to put unity back in her local community. 

Manchester-born photographer, Jenny South, settled in Devonport in 2011 after marrying a Royal Navy sailor. She loved the area, but sensed there was a divide amongst the old and new residents. She barely knew her neighbours and felt the end of the regeneration work, the demise of other neighbourhood initiatives and past empty promises were stifling the growth of a healthy community. 

The seeds of change began when Jenny took part in a successful volunteer-led gardening project, which brought residents together to brighten up the streets with plants and flowers.

She was inspired to set up Column Community Events. A neighbourhood-led business which will encourage more residents to come out of their homes and get involved in making the area a buzzing, vibrant place to live.

It’s early days for the project, but they have already attracted a growing band of eager volunteers. So far they’ve cleaned up Devonport Square and Gardens, installed much-needed bollards and organised a mass litter pick on a freezing January morning.

They’re also working with local schools and groups and aim to organise one big event a month. Because the business is owned and run by the community it’ll be up to residents what the events will be.  Music events, markets or street parties. It’s up to them.

"Literally in every way, or shape possible RIO has helped. They have hosted, they’ve given advice, they’ve been at the end of a phone call, the end of an email. Checking over the CIC forms with a fine toothcomb. I feel pride. It’s a sense of togetherness. I feel more connected to my community now. I know people by name. If I see somebody on the street I get to wave at them. I’m not just me getting in my car, going where I need to.  I feel part of Devonport now."