Life in Community C.I.C was founded in 2019 and incorporated in February 2020, after Kelly Cranston (founder) stepped down as Chair from Tibby Residents Association. Being born and raised on the Tibbington Estate, following the completion of her degree, Kelly felt it was imperative to give back to her local community and help raise their aspirations. For over 10 years, Kelly and a team of local resident volunteers were involved in improving geographical area of the Tibbington Estate (Tibby) in the ward of Princes End of Tipton. During that period, Kelly and the team worked tirelessly to deliver services for the local community, which included youth work, education and employment support and training as well as offering signposting services for local people. Kelly became increasingly aware that the structure of the TRA was not fit for purpose, in order to access the required resources, that were necessary to address the social issues in the area. She wanted to create transformational change and positive outcomes across the neighbourhood and felt that setting up a Community Interest Company (Social Enterprise), was the best way in achieving this. Not only for a small area but for the ward as a whole. Kelly has a wealth of experience manging programmes involving children and young people and has worked for a number of charities and within secondary education. More recently Kelly developed a health and wellbeing programme in Birmingham for those suffering with low-level mental health.
Kelly & Pat at a Tibby Residents Community Event back in 2015
Pat Willamson is also a Director alongside Kelly and has lived in the Princes End area for most of her life and has worked as a volunteer for many years in Tipton (and elsewhere), seeking to improve life outcomes in a deprived area which had few community facilities and employment opportunities. However, these areas had a great community spirit. Pat found disabilities and deprivation around her all through her life and it has gave her a heart to encourage, motivate and facilitate people to achieve the best for their lives. She wholeheartly, believes that strong communities are built on caring, sharing relationships where each person is valued and respected and able to access and try out things without fear, and where no-one is isolated; but rather all are included. Her volunteering has included Youth work, Children’s work, running a Parent & Toddler group, all within different churches. She has also assisted a child with SEN in primary school; been a treasurer for her local TRA; volunteering with a local ‘Listeners’ group, the Education & Business partnership and also for Youth and Children’s clubs, within a church setting. Independently, Pat set up study groups for women, and has also run dance workshops for women and girls, to encourage, teach new skills, empower and motivate. Formally her employed positions included: working in local High Schools, in both SEN Learning Support and as a Learning Mentor, and within the NHS in an admin role. She has also worked for the Local Authority as a Local Learning Champion (within the community). Her strengths include being a trained counsellor, having skills in active listening, mentoring, financial (SMBC trained) and admin/clerical. Prior to working as a Local Learning Champion she accessed lots of community based classes. She learned a lot from them and this, together with voluntary work, meant confidence was built to engage in this role, which entailed talking to people in the Tipton community and engaging them with learning, both formal and informal; and also setting up community-based courses with providers. She learned first-hand how valuable having access to courses (e.g. life skills, well-being, employment and education based opportunities) within the community is, and why ‘Life in Community’ is very much needed now.
Suzie Ho (Director) Sue has lived in the Sandwell area for over 30 years. She has worked as an accountant and a volunteer during that time. She has always had a heart for helping people. About six years ago she was called to study counselling and is now a qualified integrative counsellor. She has also taught levels 2 and 3 and assisted with level 4 in counselling certification, to help others achieve their goals to help people with mental health problems.Sue's volunteering has been in many different areas from being a member of several listening services, volunteer counsellor, working in several foodbanks in Sandwell and Birmingham, delivering mental health workshops, running a coffee morning for people to come and meet others and facilitate them meeting other people and talking about their mental health problems. She also assisted to run a scout group and taking kids camping to learn important life skills. Her faith is really important to her and as such has been involved in a prayer street ministry and church related activities. Sue's primary focus now is helping and equipping people to work through their mental health concerns to achieve their goals. She sees it as a real privilege to walk alonside them through their journey and to be a part of their healing and rebuilding of their life script. This allows them to move on with life, equipped and stronger, ready to face what lies ahead of them in the future.
Charlene Cotton (Director) Born and bred in the Tipton, Charlene has worked in the local area over the last 17 years delivering services ranging from childcare, youth engagement and intensive family support. She's worked for various organisations such as Murray Hall Community Trust, Citizens Advice, Tipton Toddlers and more recently Black Country Talent Match working across, Sandwell and Wolverhampton. Charlene is a mother six and has been involved with Tibby TRA for over 10 years. She led on the under 10's provision and communty engagement. Charlene is passionate about promoting positive mental wellbeing. She loves supporting local people to achieve their goals and aspirations. She is a real advocate for women, especially young mothers, helping them to rise above their circumstances and learn skills that will equip them for the future. During her tenure at Black Country Talent Match, Charlene won Mentor of the year which highlights her deadication in supporrting young people. Charlene is trained in supporting women affected by domestic violence as domestic voilence community chamption via the Freedom Programme.