Twin Towns UK is a domestic twinning scheme, which takes a fresh approach to the well-established ‘twinning’ concept by pairing towns across the UK with similar characteristics or socio-economic challenges, to consider how to make positive change happen in their communities.
Improving towns includes, but is about far more than, improving the retail offering on the high street. It is about supporting people to come together and make the changes they know their local places need.
From September 2017 until November 2018, 3 twinning partnerships worked together to jointly develop projects that tackle priorities in their towns, supported by the knowledge and experience of their twins. A mix of organisations lead the partnerships including a Community Development Trust, a Business Improvement District, and a Chamber of Commerce. The project enabled exchange of information across the UK, promoting collaborative and co-operative programmes at grass roots level between towns. The 3 partnerships were:
- Broughshane in Northern Ireland & Wooler in England
- Whitburn in Scotland & Oswaldtwistle in England
- Merthyr Tydfil in Wales and North Shields in England.
Towns have gained from the twinning through:
- direct improvements in their digital offering with increased marketing and social media activity.
- opportunities for individuals to share learning and improve skills, knowledge and understanding.
- new cycle routes, walking lunches, town trails and heritage trails.
- In one town (Mertyr Tydfill) speciality Christmas and Pop Up Vegan markets trialled; with the Vegan market generating a 20% increase in shopping centre footfall.
- Leveraging other funding to refurbish Harrison Hall in Whitburn, which is now open and being used by a variety of community groups.
- Town clean ups, with wide community involvement that are anticipated to become regular events.
The final report of Twin Towns, encompassing lessons for other towns will be released here on March 19, 2019