Hannah Hodgson is the Founder of Project: Community. She says “Project: Community connects people so together we can make great things happen in communities. I’m one of nine siblings. I was a single parent at the age of 19.
My Dad always believed in me. He encouraged me to speak up, to follow my dreams. But from experience, I can tell you that is hugely difficult when society has already labelled you as a teen mum. My Dad died last year after suffering from a stroke and Vascular Dementia. I found out he was hugely involved in community work before I was born. And I was inspired to follow his lead.
I work with community organisations on developing projects I truly believe in because that is where the change comes. You have to feel you are walking in their shoes. To speak up for those who haven’t yet got the strength. Whether it be to passionately promote their projects, to apply for funding, to gather a project team, and deliver their vision. I help to realise the vision by focusing on the impact and benefits.”
Our 2020 Igniting Inspiration Campaign is proudly sponsored by
Who have you helped/who will you help?
“From starting with cricket clubs, Project: Community has expanded to support communities where it matters most. Past projects have helped over 100 children access sport through equipment and training facilities; over 250 vulnerable households with fair access to food through a grocery delivery service in partnership with a supermarket and cycling club; increased active participation for 20 young people and provision of coaching opportunities through a Junior Boxercise and Young Leaders programme.
Current projects include supporting 70 socially isolated older people through a weekly ‘Chattercake’ tea and cake companion visit; the forthcoming ‘Virtual Village’ project will help over 50 socially isolated people to get connected digitally, able to explore their local community via online videos shared during volunteer visits and gain confidence before stepping out again.
Future projects will help 25 Wellbeing and Fitness professionals form a support network and empower up to 50 women back into health and into the workplace.”
“Being a clever magpie! I seize opportunities but only the ones that sing to me. The projects that warm my heart are the ones I want to work with. Knowing your skills and reaching out to others to help.
Volunteering, facilitating and making connections; listening to those who want to help but don’t know how to. You need to be willing to believe so that others can believe. This has taken me to the Cricket World Cup and leading the Australia team out in the Ashes! On paper, that sounds crazy!”
What have you learned? Any challenges?
“Say Yes only when you really mean Yes. To develop projects you need to be wholly passionate, and be able to give your all. I have learnt to utilise the skills of others who want to help, and learn from them. Knockbacks have been a challenge.
I have learned to believe in the strength of the idea, and go again. Just because somebody hasn’t tried it before doesn’t mean it is a bad idea. This year, I finally received funding for an idea at the fourth time of trying. I know what a difference this community project will make to those who cannot speak up even once.”
“Empowerment is the focus for 2021. A focus on propelling communities to see themselves differently. We need physical and mental strength to get back to work and active participation, to have renewed confidence to engage and interact.
Project: Community’s sister organisation, Community Active Stockport CIC, will build on this to offer the PowHerFull empowerment journey. Its purpose is two-fold: empowering women to become life and work-ready, and providing work opportunities to fitness and wellbeing providers who have lost so much in 2020. Our PowHerFull network will bring strength and friendship.”
What advice, contacts, or resources would help her?
“Advice on local support networks, especially around digital support for community projects. Contacts on regional funding to boost the work we do to more communities, extending the benefits on a greater scale.”
Why we’re sharing these stories
Each year, an individual or organisation from each of our five categories plus one exceptional judges’ choice individual is recognised at our annual Igniting Inspiration celebration event.
We publish each and every nomination to raise awareness of all the positive work that goes on in the North. While, this year, our physical event had to be deferred, our campaign to spread stories of positive social impact continues – good news is needed!