Connecting people
to build community

Keynsham Action Network

Introduction to KAN in ‘About Us’ section:

What is KAN’s purpose?

Keynsham Action Network is our response to what we see as a loss of connection and a loss of deep meaning in our culture. We believe the answer is to help people build ….

“a living, organic, believing community active in fulfilling some unfulfilled perhaps unrealized purpose”.

This quotation comes from the great writer and social critic, D H Lawrence – author of Lady Chatterley’s Lover. Lawrence believed that this building of community enabled people to be free to discover a ‘perhaps unrealized purpose’. The words ‘living’, ‘organic’ and ‘believing’ are all vitally important ingredients in this. This is what KAN is about.

How do we achieve our purpose

We try to achieve this ambitious goal in various ways. First, we have a group of ‘listeners’ who take whatever opportunity they can to listen to residents’ (and visitors’) views about living in the town. We record this views (taking care over confidentiality) to form a picture of the community’s assets (what is good about it) and its problems. We also gather an impression of what the people are prepared to do themselves about changing things towards their particular vision of how things could be better. As the pattern forms we then invite people together who have similar concerns. From this new projects emerge led by members of the community and supported by members of KAN.

We have a similar process with existing organisations in the town. We ask members of the organisation for their views of the town and how their group is aiming to help. We then invite representatives of different groups to meet one another to explore ways in which they can support one another by collaborating and promoting one another –  there are often unhelpful duplications, and opportunities for sharing resources.

In addition, we support community members in organizing public events that bring people together who share an interest or a passion, for instance, for the environment, or for music. The ‘Live Simply’ series of events in 2013 were a good example of this and was continued through the visit of Alastair McIntosh to Keynsham in July 2014.

How is KAN organized and funded?

KAN is a voluntary organisation formed at the end of 2011. It is currently an unincorporated association. We have a steering group of seven local residents who meet every 6-8 weeks to make key decisions about progress and direction. We are supported by an administrator, Jill Herrett, for one day per week.  The members are listed below with a few sentences about each of us. Every steering group member has a particular role in the organisation.

Our funding comes from local fundraising in the town (such as donations at events) with support through St Augustine’s Medical Practice in Keynsham. We have received two generous donations from Keynsham Fairtrade Group.

Who are we?

Dr William House (chair):

During 30 years as a general practitioner in and around Keynsham I shared with people bringing up of children, the struggling with misfortune, laughing at absurdity, weeping with joy or misery, and increasingly raging with frustration. Somewhere along the line, I concluded that the science of medicine did not help to understand most of this, in fact it was often a hindrance. Forming KAN was my response. I see it as a cross between an unusual form of creative art and a new sort of gardening. Both involve working with the grain of nature and wondering at its miracles.

Sarah Fox:

Hello, I’m Sarah. Having brought up three children and worked in the NHS, I am now a photographer. I have a lifelong passion for nature and am fascinated by all sorts of things in life, from art to architecture, psychology to poetry, music to movies. I also love travelling to places near and far.
My role in KAN has been to establish our links via Social Media. I aim to look not only at local links, but also further afield.
I see KAN as a conduit between individuals and their community and between communities and the wider world.

Ron Payne:

Ron was Bristol born, the son of a Master mariner. After thirty years spent in various occupations in a variety of towns, Ron settled in Keynsham. You may remember him as the potter in Hurran’s Garden Centre. When he retired, Ron’s studio was used to make two of the Millennium Mosaic Panels that were displayed around the Clock Tower. Needing exercise, he joined a walking group in South Bristol. With his wife Pat he explored undiscovered green corners of Bristol and the countryside nearby, and led two groups of walkers. In Keynsham, Ron and Pat set up and led the Bus Stop Walkers on behalf of Age UK until he was no longer fit enough. Eighteen months ago, Ron and Pat joined Keynsham Action Network. Ron is now the chair of their “Listeners” who are talking with local residents to find ways of improving Keynsham life.

Other members of the steering group include:

Christina Smith who is tremendously active both in KAN and also in local group Community @67.

Sheila Crocombe:

I came to Keynsham with my husband in 1962 from my first teaching job in London.I grew up in a small Welsh mining village where everyone knew everyone else and looked out for each other so I’m drawn to activities that bring the community together.

When my three sons were growing up I did the usual school things, PTA, school governor but in 1994 I joined Keynsham Community Association (KCA) on its start-up. The aim was to work with the  District Council-first Wansdyke then B&NES – to build a community hall on the Tesco site. It didn’t happen in spite of an Ombudsman’s decision in our favour that there had been maladministration by Wansdyke when the money for Keynsham’s hall was spent elsewhere. You will see flats going up now where our hall should have been- much more lucrative. Along the way though KCA worked on a variety of community arts projects so I met many talented people and learnt a lot.

By 2009 there was no hope of a hall being built so KCA folded. The money earmarked for it was shared between three existing venues to help with their refurbishment. One of these was our newest bit of community space Community@67 which was the sub-post office in Queens Road Another community group Keynsham South Forum persuaded the owners Somer Housing ( now Curo) to lease it to a management committee and they are going from strength to strength. I have signed up as a volunteer there and I run an after-school Maths club once a week in term time aimed at Years 5 and 6 of the primary school and open to any school in Keynsham. The space is limited and we can only take 10 members but we meet that quota and have a bit of fun.

I have also linked with Transition Keynsham’s food arm. Transition is a national charity network of people concerned with sustainable solutions to food, transport and fuel. We have a community veg plot in the memorial park, anyone can join in and taste and try. We also cultivate a wildflower patch to lift the spirits along the Wellsway.

Keynsham Action Network is my most recent venture. It is a very ambitious project and we are finding out the art of the possible but I would very much like to see it succeed – I think it’s very existence can only be a force for good in our community.

Andrew Judge, vicar of St Francis church in Keynsham, chair of Churches Together.

Alastair Singleton, local businessman and resident. Alastair’s early career was in the public service, and he served as a Diplomat in the Middle East before entering business in the 1980s. He specialises in organisational design and effectiveness and is incurably curious about how best to change anti-social behaviours in society. He is actively engaged in criminal and youth justice, and his broad charity experience has included board positions with the international development NGO VSO and the environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy.

Jill Herrett, administrator

(more info. pending!)

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Photos of our ‘away day’ facilitated very kindly by Jim Cronin  in December 2013 : reviewing the busy year behind us and making lots of plans for the future!