Less than a week into his role as Naval Base Commander, Commodore Peter Coulson today [Friday 13 July] visited Devonport Square (adjacent to Devonport Guildhall & Column) to handover the refurbished space that MoD apprentices have spent the week rejuvenating.

Working in partnership with Column Community Events – a community business led by local residents Jenny South and Rachel McManus, volunteer apprentices have spent the week helping with building works to install bench seating and tables to improve the appearance and facilities in the square.

Rachel McManus, Director at Column Community Events CIC said:

“I’m so pleased the volunteer MoD team could be involved in the project. They have helped move us forward in the regeneration of the area. I can’t wait for the community to see the progress at the summer BBQ on August the 4th.”

Lorna Stubbs, the Defence Equipment & Security Engineering Apprentice Manager at HMNB Devonport said:

“participating in a local community project allows the apprentices to develop leadership, team working and project management skills which they can then take into the workplace within HM Dockyard, Devonport as project engineers. It also allows them to participate in something that benefits others, demonstrating how integrated the dockyard is within the local community.”

Volunteer and project lead, Joe Clatworthy, said:

“Being given the opportunity to manage a community project in my local area has allowed me to contribute towards the link between the Dockyard and the surrounding area of Devonport. On a personal level it has given me an insight into project management and has allowed me to develop my personal skills of leadership, communication and teamwork.”

This week’s activity has been part of a wider project supported by RIO – the Real Ideas Organisation – who led the regeneration of Devonport Guildhall & Column, and Liverty, who are working together to improve Devonport’s outdoor spaces and provide spaces for events and the local community through the Empowering Places Programme.

Established by the lottery-funded organisation, Power to Change, and delivered in Plymouth by RIO, Empowering Places helps individuals and groups, with passion and drive to make things happen in Stonehouse and Development, turn their ideas into a reality in the form of community businesses.

Community businesses – owned and run by local communities themselves – have been bubbling up in neighbourhoods across the country during the last decade. Whether saving local pubs from closure, turning around community assets or giving people control over their housing or work, they are keeping wealth local. Local people in Stonehouse and Devonport have already identified issues that face their community and how community business may be able to help.