Pop along to POP+

Pop along to POP+

They’re back and they’re bigger than ever! The Plymouth Octopus Project, now known as POP+,   has relaunched its popular monthly Thursday sessions for everyone working in the voluntary and community sector (VCS) in Plymouth. This Thursday, the 21st September, POP+ is hoping for a full house as it links its first meeting with more than a million good reasons for taking part.

With more than sixteen hundred voluntary and community organisations in the city, POP+ plays a significant role in ensuring that the sector is actively supported and represented across the city in local and regional planning and policy. Whether they are large and established, such as St Lukes Hospice or the YMCA, or little-known community groups, such as the Oasis Café and Red Velvet Cinema, POP+ exists to offer them training, business and funding advice as well as the means to bring them all together.

Dr Alan Butler,co-director of Pride in Plymouth has been working with POP since it began six years ago. He liked the organisation so much, he became a trustee:

“Before POP nobody really knew what anyone else in the community and voluntary sector was doing, nobody ever brought us together and we all just got on with our own work. What POP did was to bring us all out of the dark and get us to work together. And now, because of it, we’ve all got a greater sense of what’s going on in the city.”

POP+ has eight established networks which cover almost every aspect of city-life, for example, Children and Young People; Health & Wellbeing and Culture & Arts. Organisations of varying size and structure sit alongside each other, sharing information and encouraging new ideas. As Jacky Clift, its chief executive officer says, connecting people is tantamount to its success;

“Through our work, we bring all sorts of people together, for example, we connect those working with the homeless to young people’s groups, and enable organisations that focus on wellbeing to meet city sports clubs. Not only is it giving everyone a chance to learn from each other but it also allows POP+ to get the views of the VCS sector and the communities and pass this on to the council and other statutory bodies which enables them to design and deliver really good services for the city.”

In the last couple of years’ the success of this approach, the willingness of those taking part and the positive outcomes it has brought the city have been both recognised and rewarded. An investment of £1.3m has been awarded to POP+ in the last few days from the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, one of the largest independent grant-making foundations in the UK, to enable it to co-ordinate and make more effective the work of the voluntary sector and bring about real social change. POP+ Thursdays are a vital part of the plan.

This Thursday’s meeting promises to be full of energy as POP+ members are joined by members of the public to share their ideas on a range of exciting topics including, how the £1.3m grant should be spent and how individuals and communities can get on board the forthcoming Mayflower 400 commemorations.

POP+ Thursday will be held on Thursday the 21st of September from 10.00am until 4.00pm at Engage Church on St Leven Road in Milehouse. Anyone who cannot make it can contact POP+ on Plymouth 395131 or email info@plymouthoctopus.org.