Work at Over Darwen House – The Livesey Foundation Project

Vision, Creative Concept, Project Management

Work at Over Darwen House – The Livesey Foundation Project

Vision, Creative Concept, Project Management

The Objective

The Livesey Foundation had purchased the former Co-Operative Bank building in Darwen Town Centre with the aim to create a place that would support businesses to grow thereby creating jobs for local people. Working with them we developed a vision that would transform this former bank into a modern and creative workplace with private offices, hot desks, meeting rooms and much more.

The Vision

This project came along at the perfect time and was the challenge I had been looking for. Having worked with startups for 3 years prior to this project (and businesses of all sizes for 10 years) I had a good understanding of the local need and challenges they face. I was linked in with co-working and startup communities across the UK and I had seen what worked and what didn’t. I also had a unique understanding of Darwen having worked in some capacity with the business and wider community for over a decade.

The vision came together from all of this experience, insight and some further research. Visiting successful initiatives in cities across the UK as well as researching projects in America and Bali, I combined a number of elements from these alongside some of my own divising to create a concept that I believed would meet the objectives of The Livesey Foundation. The critical aspect was that it couldn’t simple be a nice place to work it had to actually help businesses grow and create jobs which was the main objective of the Foundation.

The concept is built on a ‘collective success’ philosophy and provides the physical infrastructure needed as well as the inspirational, educational and community elements that are just as vital. The result being a place where businesses can access opportunities, support, facilities and the learning they need.

The Vision

This project came along at the perfect time and was the challenge I had been looking for. Having worked with startups for 3 years prior to this project (and businesses of all sizes for 10 years) I had a good understanding of the local need and challenges they face. I was linked in with co-working and startup communities across the UK and I had seen what worked and what didn’t. I also had a unique understanding of Darwen having worked in some capacity with the business and wider community for over a decade.

The vision came together from all of this experience, insight and some further research. Visiting successful initiatives in cities across the UK as well as researching projects in America and Bali, I combined a number of elements from these alongside some of my own divising to create a concept that I believed would meet the objectives of The Livesey Foundation. The critical aspect was that it couldn’t simple be a nice place to work it had to actually help businesses grow and create jobs which was the main objective of the Foundation.

The concept is built on a ‘collective success’ philosophy and provides the physical infrastructure needed as well as the inspirational, educational and community elements that are just as vital. The result being a place where businesses can access opportunities, support, facilities and the learning they need.

The Key Challenges

The vision was aspirational and would require the support of some key individuals in the town – mainly the young and ambitious community members and businesses. Twelve months of networking and events prior to opening ensured Work at Over Darwen House had the support and community it needed.

Any renovation is fraught with challenges and this was no different. Once building work commenced it became clear that we would need a much longer timeline to get it to the standard we wanted. This meant the community we built around it, that was eagerly anticipating moving in and using the space, would need to wait. Our challenge became moving the project forward as fast as possible whilst keeping stakeholders engaged.

Funding for any not for profit project of this kind is critical. We had the bulk of the money funded by the foundation itself but we also needed to find more. We managed to secure £15,000 from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, £10,000 from the Lloyds Trust and £5,000 from the JF Leach Trust. The rest was generously funded directly from The Livesey Foundation.

The Key Challenges

The vision was aspirational and would require the support of some key individuals in the town – mainly the young and ambitious community members and businesses. Twelve months of networking and events prior to opening ensured Work at Over Darwen House had the support and community it needed.

Any renovation is fraught with challenges and this was no different. Once building work commenced it became clear that we would need a much longer timeline to get it to the standard we wanted. This meant the community we built around it, that was eagerly anticipating moving in and using the space, would need to wait. Our challenge became moving the project forward as fast as possible whilst keeping stakeholders engaged.

Funding for any not for profit project of this kind is critical. We had the bulk of the money funded by the foundation itself but we also needed to find more. We managed to secure £15,000 from Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, £10,000 from the Lloyds Trust and £5,000 from the JF Leach Trust. The rest was generously funded directly from The Livesey Foundation.

The Process

  •   Agree the vision with The Livesey Foundation
  •   Secure funding
  •   Engage key stakeholders including local councillors, businesses, charities and the wider community of Darwen and Lancashire
  •   Manage the renovation of the building
  •   Build the community that would use and support the initiative
  •   Identify and bring on board the individual/s that would come to run the building and initiative post launch
  •   Create a team of ‘business’ experts that would support the small businesses using the space
  •   Promote the offering and secure applications for the office space and hot desking
  •   Organise the launch party

The Process

  •   Agree the vision with The Livesey Foundation
  •   Secure funding
  •   Engage key stakeholders including local councillors, businesses, charities and the wider community of Darwen and Lancashire
  •   Manage the renovation of the building
  •   Build the community that would use and support the initiative
  •   Identify and bring on board the individual/s that would come to run the building and initiative post launch
  •   Create a team of ‘business’ experts that would support the small businesses using the space
  •   Promote the offering and secure applications for the office space and hot desking
  •   Organise the launch party

THE RESULT

A successful launch in May 2017 with a secured team of 7 business experts, an enthusiastic building and operations manager on board and more applications in than we had office space available.

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