Passion for the community and wise words from her parents still ringing in her ears are what is driving 70 year old Liverpudlian Val Price to reject retirement in favour of setting up a CIC, Proud of Liverpool.

Val Price Proud of Liverpool
Val Price, Proud of Liverpool CIC
Listening to Val’s journey of what brought her to this point is fascinating. Sharing with warmth about her humble beginnings in Old Swan Val told us “I had a good life as a kid, but we didn’t have two ha’pennies to rub together. What I do remember though is that mum always made me aware that although she didn’t have money to give she would say that time is important, and you can always give time, so that’s what I’m doing. I’m giving my time to this.”

Proud of Liverpool is building to its first event on Friday 9th September 2016 10am-4pm at The Florrie on Mill Street. From 10am-4pm there will be a jobs fair where a competition will launch for people to enter about what they consider is great about L8, also encouraging people to share their memories of L8.  Then the evening brings the Fashion of the world together with fashion of the 40’s by an L8 establishment – Bijou & Vintage, and throughout the evening music and entertainment. On Saturday 10th September Proud of Liverpool will move on to Prince’s Park in L8 for a further celebration event including food of the world market stalls and entertainment 12-4pm.

Val explained these events are just a starting point of giving the L8 community things to continue to feel a pride in their community, building on the amazing initiatives happening in the area.  Proud of Liverpool aims to recruit volunteers who currently live in L8 to start a pilot project of mapping services and amenities in the area, but with an in depth community level knowledge about them.  From here the organisation can become a central point of contact for those moving into the community, as well as those already living there helping them to understand what is there and how to utilise it.

Val says
“One of the biggest problems in these communities is that we don’t know enough of what’s out there. What is a major concern is the people who need help and support who are unaware, suffering from loneliness and poverty, and are not accessing these services.   The events we are organising is to share the knowledge of what is great in L8, helping to find connections, bringing everything together. From there I hope our volunteers can start visiting organisations and really understand what is there.  Enabling us to establish by 2018 (ten years from when Liverpool became the European Capital of Culture a central office where we can offer people new to the area a walk into and find out everything they need to know. Acting as a signpost to the many people and organisations available and providing people with a real welcome to their neighbourhood and the community.”

Having recently discovered that a large number of people living in Toxteth are living below the poverty line, and those in Kirkdale have a life expectancy of 12 years less than in other areas of Liverpool, Val has been impassioned to focus on areas of deprivation in Liverpool to see why that is.  Starting with the L8 pilot Val is planning to move into different neighbourhoods. The aim is to “map out what IS there, and then be able to see what ISN’T.  That way start to identify what is different about Kirkdale that accounts for that 12 years less, and from there make recommendations and work with the community to work on what needs to happen to change that community.”  Val emphasised that it is a key focus of the project to link in and collaborate with the amazing people who are already working hard to make that difference in these neighbourhoods.   Throughout Liverpool what is encouraging, Val says, is “the community really making moves to improve their neighbourhoods and every day hearing of new initiatives being taken by the people who live in them.   No longer are they prepared to accept the Status Quo and personal efforts by groups are on the increase to make that difference…because everyone can do that!”

In looking to establish Proud of Liverpool Val worked with The Women’s Organisation through the Enterprise Hub Programme to develop an action plan and understand the practicalities of establishing a Community Interest Company. Reflecting on the support received Val said “It’s been brilliant! Meeting Janine regularly and talking things through is just great. I’ve asked questions I wouldn’t have known where else to ask.  I’ve had help with things like developing a safe guarding policy, looking over my public liability insurance to check I have everything I need. It’s been a great help.  I just love coming to The Women’s Organisation building at 54 St James Street anyway as it’s a great place to come and have coffee with people, and for me with my wonky knees I never have to worry about parking here.”

Val is passionate about developing the work of Proud of Liverpool to have a real impact on what she calls ‘the donut’.  Describing Liverpool Val says “Over the years in Liverpool the City Centre has changed for the better, but we have forgotten the areas surrounding that, the ‘donut’ that you have to drive through in order to reach that uplifting city centre.  It’s those areas that we need to focus on.”

Beyond her passion for the community Val says that being her own boss is “freedom to use your voice”.  Having worked in a number of professions over the years including 20 years at United Biscuits, working in personnel, managing a sports and social club, working in hotels, cleaning firms and retail – Val is happy to no longer have to think of ‘company policy’ before speaking her mind. If she can see something needs to change or isn’t right, she is free to speak out.

The starting point of Proud of Liverpool Val says is having “empathy and understanding”. She says “I’ve been through difficult times, I’ve lived in these places. I can empathise with these communities and that’s what we need.  I just want to remind them of things about their area that they can be proud of, and help to bring more things that give pride to those areas.”

If you would like to find out more about Proud of Liverpool you can write to Val Price at 54 St James Street, Liverpool, L1 0AB, or visit her facebook page.  Also contact Val for details of the L8 competition, the event and how you can be involved, or join the events free on 9th & 10th September.

And if like Val you have a passion that you would like to turn into a business, please contact Enterprise Hub to find out more about the free support available to those living in the Liverpool City Region on 0151 706 8113 or  Enterprise Hub is part funded by European Regional Development Fund.