Wooler has successfully completed a unique, 18-month twinning experiment that has highlighted the importance of building relationships with other towns.
The Carnegie UK Trust’s Twin Towns project paired Wooler with the County Antrim town of Broughshane.
It was one of three twin town projects selected from across the UK with the goal of encouraging towns to think differently about what they could do to improve their local communities by learning from others in similar situations.
Another was North Shields which twinned with the Welsh town of Merthyr Tydfil.
Over £10,000 was provided to put ideas into practice.
The project concludes with a new report by the Carnegie UK Trust highlighting that the opportunities to learn and share ideas between Britain’s towns is even more significant in the context of Brexit. The Trust claims that towns are being left behind in the debate about post-Brexit prosperity as policymakers focus on larger towns and cities.
The relationship with Broughshane allowed Wooler to gain a new appreciation of its positive attributes and improve its digital gateways. The investment has helped to improve community support and volunteer involvement in the town.
Tom Johnston, director of the Glendale Gateway Trust, said: “We were delighted to be twinned with Broughshane, the project was all about seeing places through someone else’s eyes and being open and honest about new ideas.
“The overriding message is that working together and being positive is what makes things happen.”
The Carnegie UK Trust will be exploring other methods of engaging with towns over the next two years to support them practically and to amplify their voice in policy and media discussions.
Jennifer Wallace, Head of Policy at The Carnegie UK Trust, said: “With Brexit looming and policy changes honing in on cities, small towns are in danger of being left behind. Although, the government is making some headway with the Stronger Towns Fund, there has never been a greater need for the use of collaborative and co-operative programmes at grass roots level between towns across the UK. The Twin Towns project between both North Shields and Merthyr Tydfil and Wooler and Broughshane has proven that such an approach can be successful.”
Pauline Radcliffe, Associate of the Carnegie UK Trust, said: “These inspirational place-based communities have demonstrated the positivity, re-visioning and ‘can do’ energy that is created when towns come together to build honest relationships rooted in trust, exchange ideas and ‘hold a mirror up’ to their own town. Despite the challenges facing our high streets, these community organisations are ‘using the strengths and people of their area to do the work that’s needed’ to sustain their communities and tell their story.”