You may not have heard of KICA. KICA is the Kelham Island Community Alliance. It’s been going for ages now, but over the past couple of years it’s kicked it up a notch (pun very much intended) and had a massive positive impact on the Kelham Island Community.
KICA are getting Kelham Islands out of their apartments and into the streets, organising events where people can get to know each other and start working together to improve their community.
It started back in November 2015, when a small team from the local neighborhood set out to create a farmer’s market in the heart of Kelham Island. All the local producers of cheeses, beers and all kinds of other foods were eager to attend, and the group managed to get permission to close of the Ball Street Bridge over the river don to create a central area for everyone to congregate. The market was a huge success, with 2000 local people coming to sample the local produce. It touched on a need for events that bring everyone in the community together and getting to know one another, so KICA turned the farmers market into a quarterly event, that has been happening ever since.
That event helped to kick things off (again, pun so intended), but now KICA does so much more. They’re tackling all kinds of issues, creating events and improving the area.
One of the project’s they’re involved in at the moment is using art to tackle graffiti in the area. Graffiti was one of the local resident’s top concerns, but KICA found that graffiti taggers tended not to tag over artwork, they were just doing it on empty areas. They also found that the vast majority of the graffiti was on phone junction boxes.
KICA got a team of volunteer artists together to paint the boxes, and got in touch with BT and Virgin (the owners of the boxes) to get their permission. The plan is to use the boxes to create an arts and heritage trail around the island, with images and information on the boxes to take people on a journey around the area. The painting is already underway, and Virgin even provided the arts with graffiti proof paint for the project, ensuring the locals concerns about graffiti will be tackled.
What’s made KICA so successful?
KICA works by getting locals involved directly. Rather than a big group trying to do everything, volunteers split off into teams and work only on the projects that excite them. The only two roles for starting a new project at KICA are; it’s got help to community, and it’s got to be fun. If the project doesn’t get people excited then it’s not worth doing.
These groups have started making community improvements in a wide range of areas. From creating community allotments on flat, un-used roof spaces to getting benches for the area or partnering with the university to get post-graduates surveying and researching the area, there all kinds of projects for local people to get involved in.
KICA has been a great way to bring the community together. One project has a big group of volunteers coming together four times a year to clear the Goit area of overgrown brambles to keep it an open green space. A local pizza restaurant provides free pizzas to the volunteers so the quarterly event has proven consistently popular!
KICA is just part of what gives Kelham Island its unique feel. The whole area is full of creative, talented people, and that’s a big part of why KICA has been such as success.
With such a great atmosphere, enhanced by the community spirit engendered by KICA,
it’s hardly surprising that Kelham Island been consistently named in lists of the top 10 coolest places in the UK.
If you live in our Little Kelham development or anywhere else in Kelham Island and are interested in getting involved in KICA then they’re always looking out for more volunteers. Head over to their website to find out more about them and take a look at their Facebook page to find out when the next meeting is.