Since it came into being 19 years ago the organisation has been though many changes, it evolved from “Friends of Syke Pond” a group of local people became a Friends Group in order to refurbish a large public pond which was built over 100 years ago on Cronkeyshaw Common an area of open space covenanted by a local person to the people of Rochdale. Once the work on the pond was completed the group continued to meet as they could see that work was needed to bring the community together; an “us and them” culture had become the norm in the area and there was also a hidden fear of crime. The young people said there was nowhere for them to meet and nothing for them to do; there was no focal point in the area so it was difficult to bring this divided community together.
When in 2001 the government introduced Neighbourhood Renewal Funding, the area was seen as one of the 22 most deprived neighbourhoods in the Rochdale Borough, so the group held a public meeting in a local school to discuss all the issues being raised by the community, the meeting was also attended by Council officers and Police. To reflect the makeup of those attending the Friends of Syke Pond evolved into the Syke Area Strategic Partnership. It was as the Partnership they submitted their first successful bid for Neighbourhood Renewal Money, being successful meant there was enough money to employ a development worker, it was this person’s responsibility to go out into the community, consult with people and identify need. Through the earlier work of the Friend’s group there were strong relationships between the Council, the Police and other partner agencies, the membership of the Partnership Management Committee grew with more local people wanting to become involved.
The Chair of the Partnership entered into negotiations with the manager of a local Industrial Estate to see if one of the units could be used as a Community Base and work began to prepare Syke Community Base to open. The first unit the Base occupied was A15 on the ground floor and through many later successful bids the Community Base grew to occupy all of the units on the ground floor of John Bright’s Mill. 2003 saw the partnership become incorporated as a Registered Charity (no 1110073) and Company Limited by Guarantee (Company no: 04971879). By 2008 the partnership was receiving £62k from the Neighbourhood Renewal Programme, to add to that fund in 2006 the Partnership secured £19K core funding from Rochdale Metropolitan Borough Council (Rochdale Township Community Centre Fund). In August 2006 representatives from Government Office for the North West visited the Base and sent a follow up letter to Rochdale MBC saying: they were very impressed by the hard work and dedication of the people at Syke Community Base, as it has appears to have become a focal point for the local area.
In November 2007 the £62K Neighbourhood Renewal money was under threat of being withdrawn from the Partnership, for the following financial year. This did not mean the activities and services would not be provided, we managed to carry on through the support of volunteers, this continued until there was a clear financial position. The partnership continued to meet the overheads through the small one off grant from RMBC together with the £19k from the RMBC Rochdale Township. Then in June 2008 the base was featured in a Channel Four “Secret Millionaire Programme” and Hilary Devey a very successful business woman gave the Partnership a cheque to cover the £62K they had lost. The organisation widened its area of benefit to cover the north of Rochdale and developed Syke Area Strategic Partnership into “The North Area Partnership” (NAP) this enabled the growth of the community it now served to be recognised. The Partnership continued to develop, change and offer facilities to meet the needs of children of all ages, young people, and people of all ages. Facilities offered included an Information and Technology Centre (ICT Centre), a Healthy Living Centre with gym equipment and boxing facilities. Other activities included Water Colour Classes, Tia Chi, Yoga, Art Groups, Walk and Talk Groups and private bookings. NAP in partnership with RMBC Children’s Services made a successful bid for money to change two of the Units into an Ofsted registered Pre School Nursery which also had a fenced area for an outside Play Area this opened in September 2010
Due to gradual reduction in funding from various sources and reserves running out in 2014/15 the Partnership faced making the decision to close the base. The Partnership left the legacy of the Nursery to Biz Space, their Landlords, who immediately rented it to a private enterprise so it now operates as a Private Nursery still offering places to local people. In accordance with the memorandum and articles of the Partnership, items of equipment were sold to cover removal costs and meet outstanding commitments, other equipment was donated to like-minded voluntary organisations.
Once the decision had been made to close the Base at its current location due to large overheads, the Trustees together with the one remaining member of staff began looking at other options to enable much needed services to continue to be delivered to the local community. They started negotiations with Syke Methodist Church who were at the same time looking to utilise the Church to attract people to use it for worship and service to the community. For both the Base and the Church this seemed an ideal solution so in May 2015 the Base relocated at Syke Methodist Church bringing a range of different activities, equipment and people. This was a significant time for the Church and the Base in guaranteeing both have a positive future.
The relationship between both organisations has gone from strength to strength, formalised in the development of Syke Connexion in late 2017.
Both organisations are charities in their own right, with their own sphere of influence, they now work closely in partnership sharing similar values. Despite severe Local Authority cuts in 2018-2019, which caused the closure of some community centres, Syke Community Base was successful in obtaining external funding. This places them in a stronger position than before.