Place Based Social Action (PBSA) – Community360, on behalf of the One Colchester partnership, have been co-ordinating the Dementia Friendly Communities (DFC) project for more than five years.  We have been supported by The National Lottery, Locality and Renaisi over this time to deliver and evaluate the impact of our work.  As one of nine pilot areas across the country, we are privileged to be able to learn about the approaches of the other projects.  In the Winter of 2023, some of our team took a trip, which was inspirational…Todorina Hammond reflects…

Beautiful Bootle

It was a day like any other driving in the traffic, except this time it was on the M6, rather than my usual A12, to a Place Based Social Action (PBSA) Conference in Bootle, along with Amanda and Tim. The PBSA programme is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund, and the aim is to support communities to delivery projects that can make a tangible change locally.

My colleagues and I felt slightly excited to attend a face-to-face two-day meeting after the long Covid period and somehow mildly attached to the virtual version of similar events.

The host of the event was Safe Regeneration, one of the PBSA funded projects. The place of our meeting was St Mary’s Centre Bootle, an ordinary ex-school building with an ample car park, surrounded by small sheds and facilities and at the bottom a much-loved allotment-type garden, waiting for the spring Sun to wake up again to its beauty.

We hurriedly entered the buzzing hall. The entrance was not somehow traditional; instead, a vibrant, colourful wooden chair was placed on the porch, inviting visitors to sit and admire the surroundings. The attendees of the other seven projects, part of the PBSA programme, were already in full motion to catch up with colleagues.

In the hall full of buzz, the most distinctive smell was freshly cooked curry. By the time we finished our lunch, the atmosphere was like a gathering of old friends trying to tell the stories of their lives in 5 minutes. Each project proudly shared its achievements, including our discussion about the Dementia Friendly Communities. Then we had 20 minutes to present our projects in small groups and ask questions.

The Lock & Quay pub became the hot topic of our discussions in the afternoon. Through the window, I could glimpse a flat, grey sky and the Community Pub, proudly towering over the bare winter branches of the trees. This was far more than just an ordinary pub. It was a travel capsule to another country of choice, imagination, art, stage, and canoe.

It is not unusual to see the impact of the ageing population and the abandoned traditional industrial areas which has led to whole villages and neighbourhoods with empty spaces being left to lose their original beauty and offering nature to take over. Bootle is no stranger to that until a bare dissipated school ground caught the eye of the host of the event. The space has become a community hub for social enterprises, art, and established local businesses, providing apprenticeships and supporting those most in need while running a successful Community Pub. Unsurprisingly, the ales are brewed on the grounds at the ex-school.

And the next ambitious plans for the Safe Regeneration are a community-led housing scheme.

My colleagues and I were so energised after the visit to Bootle that we invited the host Jane, from Safe Regeneration to our CD meeting.

While I was listening to Jane’s presentation, a few distinctive remarks stayed with me:

  • The local community is at the heart of every project but skilfully woven through the role of the art movement.
  • Street art entangled in education and history.
  • Growth based on connecting these distinctive landmarks of a community pub and outdoor spaces to create community behaviours.
  • Kindness and care through a vulnerability


If I inspire your inquisitiveness, there is a concert in June and a chance to taste the Bootle beauty.


To find out more about Safe Regeneration visit (INSERT) or Place Based Social Action, visit