Inaugural Away Day

Inaugural Away Day

Last week we set sail on a wet and windy adventure for Arches Local’s very first away day aboard the Edith May.

Inspired by Nottingham Big Local Connects, the Partnership felt now was the right time for a team away day to promote conversations about the future and our legacy vehicle (Community Interest Company).

What followed was hours of brainstorming, snacking, and trying to remember what it felt like to be dry and warm. Despite the weather doing its best to dampen spirits, goodwill and positivity remained high as we mapped out our next steps and came one step closer to appointing new Directors.

Huge thanks to Lucy from Local Trust for her support and to Tiller & Wheel CIC for hosting us and making sure we didn’t go overboard (literally and figuratively).

Anne Pratt Mural

Anne Pratt Mural

Continuing to reveal the hidden stories of Chatham, this week we achieved a hat-trick with our third mural painted.

Renowned artist Sophie Mess was commissioned by Arches Local to respond to a list of local stories, and took inspiration from the incredible life of Anne Pratt (1806-1893).

Living with her sister off Luton Road for some years, Anne found solace in drawing due to poor health and an injured knee.

Little did she know, her passion would elevate her to become one of the best-known botanical illustrators of the Victorian age. Publishing more than 20 books, Queen Victoria herself requested copies of her works.

Inspired by Anne’s bold life choices, and in Sophie Mess’ contemporary style, she contrasts the word ‘imagine’ with the flowers Anne would have painted.

Located on Newnham Street, this mural wouldn’t have been possible without the support of mhs homes, the UK’s largest independent landlord, who kindly donated their wall.

If you have a wall or local story you’d like to have considered for future murals, please get in touch!

Asquith Mural

Asquith Xavier Mural

Building on our work to celebrate the hidden stories of this corner of Chatham, our latest mural has been painted on Hare Street.

Arches Local commissioned renowned artist Voyder to respond to a list of local stories and, as can be seen, he chose the extraordinary story of Asquith Xavier.

Asquith played an important role in the campaign for racial equality in the workplace.

He was born in Dominica and moved to England in 1958 as part of the Windrush generation, invited from the Caribbean to help rebuild post-war Britain.

He joined British Railways as a guard at London’s Marylebone station in 1966. With the closure of the Marylebone main line, Asquith applied for a transfer to Euston station but was rejected due to a ‘whites-only’ recruitment policy, which excluded black people from customer-facing roles.

Asquith fought this decision and eventually became the first non-white guard at Euston station, marking a pivotal moment for this country.

His strength and determination also influenced changes to the law, which made the refusal of housing, employment or public services to people based on their ethnic background illegal.

Asquith lived on Grove Road from 1972 to 1980 when he sadly passed away.

If you have a wall or a local story you’d like to be considered for future murals, please get in touch!

🥬 Cabbage Mural

Cabbage Mural

In February a member of our Big Local Partnership expressed an interest in seeing more public art across our area, and yesterday we finalised a mural as the first step in that journey. 

Arches Local commissioned renowned artist WOSKerski (Dawid) to artistically respond to a list of local stories and, as can be seen, he chose to respond to the story of Cabbage Island.

Little is known about the exact origin and boundary of Cabbage Island, but it represents Luton’s historic role as an agricultural area, predominantly growing cabbages. The term was repopularised in 2017 by Icon Theatre in their efforts to celebrate the hidden history of Luton. 

Creative licence was key from the outset and as such Dawid portrayed the story of Cabbage Island in a unique way by painting a cabbage that returned to Luton along with a team of investigators establishing what exactly happened.

Whilst ​​we were sheltering from Storm Ciaran, Dawid ran a workshop at Luton Primary School, where he outlined his career as an artist and gave the children a painting challenge of their own. As a parting gift to the school, Dawid painted one of his famous pieces, a fried egg.

If you have a wall or a local story you’d like to be considered in future murals, please get in touch!

🎨 October Fit & Fed

October Fit & Fed

Despite the never ending rain, there were smiles all around for 54 young people that joined us each day this October half term.

A special thanks to our regular partners Nucleus ArtsOlympia BoxingSport On Your Doorstep, and to Mrs Bakers Medway Theatre Company for the extracurricular activities they provided.

⛵ Aboard the Edith May

Aboard the Edith May

We were delighted to be invited on the Thames sailing barge Edith May with some of our partnership members, their friends and family.

All within an hour, we explored the history of Thames barges, how to operate the vessel and began sailing towards the Historic Dockyard Chatham.

Thank you to Medway Plus for the invitation and to Tiller & Wheel for being accommodating and insightful hosts.

To find out more about Tiller & Wheel and their efforts to preserve the surviving fleet of East Coast heritage craft see here:

💚 Silver Sunday

Silver Sunday celebrations

On Sunday the 1st of October we held our annual Silver Sunday celebration at Pembroke Court in Chatham. Silver Sunday is the national day of celebration for older people and provides an opportunity  to connect with their local communities and the generations around them.

🌱 Summer Fit & Fed 2023

Summer Fit & Fed 2023

You guessed it, throughout August we held our summer Fit & Fed programme thanks to the support of Medway Go. This time around we ran for four days, Monday to Thursday, for 4 weeks of the summer break.

Despite the unpredictable weather, we averaged 70 young people each day that were to be immersed in a world of physical and creative activities provided by our regular partners Nucleus ArtsOlympia BoxingSport On Your Doorstep, Street Games, etc.

Wild foods expert Miles Irving joined us for a weekly foraging activity and Electric Medway & Mrs Bakers Medway Theatre Company combined forces to deliver a singing and scanning workshop too!

🏊 Water Safety with BSA & Victory Academy

For the past 12 weeks, we've worked with The Black Swimming Association and The Victory Academy to design and deliver a life saving water safety programme. With drowning ranking among the leading causes of accidental death, claiming the lives of approximately 400 people each year, it's crucial to equip young people with life-saving skills and knowledge. 

Our programme supported and empowered a group of 17 young people from The Victory Academy who lacked swimming proficiency to become competent swimmers and advocates of water safety. In addition to their weekly pool sessions, the programme provided unique opportunities to explore aquatic-related careers. Through a range of enrichment activities, participants gained invaluable insights into different aspects of the aquatic industry.

The first activity was discovering the world of managing the River Thames at Port Of London Authority and learning about the heroic efforts of the RNLI at their Gravesend Lifeboat Station. 

Later in the programme they headed to London to visit Sky Studios for a hands-on broadcast production experience and to produce their own water safety news reel.  

At Pentland Brands with Gung Ho they were immersed into aquatics branding and public relations.

The final enrichment activity took place at Chatham Maritime Watersports Centre where attendees learnt the art of kayaking and put their team working skills to the test with a raft build, race activity and recorded a water safety rap. 

Throughout the programme, we documented the transformative journey of these young individuals, capturing their growth and achievements. These experiences were compiled into a 10-minute film, which was screened for the first time at a celebration event. 

We’re proud to say that this programme, delivered in collaboration with The Black Swimming Association and The Victory Academy, has equipped these young people with life-saving water safety skills, as well as providing exposure to broader aquatic careers.


🎾 The Championships, Wimbledon 2023

On Saturday, July 8th, we had an incredible time at The Championships, Wimbledon, with both new and old participants of our LTA Serves Tennis Programme.

Despite the relentless rain, our spirits remained high as we witnessed the skills of two-time Grand Slam champion Petra Kvitova on Court 2 and had the chance to explore the fantastic facilities of the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club.

Thanks to the Lawn Tennis Association for giving us this amazing opportunity. Here's some of the fun we got up to!