A free event organised by a grassroots West Leeds charity got off to a ghoulishly good start with over 80 residents from Armley and Bramley attending a macabre murder mystery night at St Bart’s Church, writes Briony Axe.
The event, hosted by Community Central CIC, is the first of what hopes to be many murder mystery workshops and subsequent evenings-of-intrigue, as part of their community cohesion initiative.
Aron Thomas – Armley resident and one of the founding members of Community Central – said:
“We came up with the idea of a murder mystery event after a late night meeting discussing what we could do to bring the people of Armley together.
“We spoke to the community and developed the idea of putting together a murder mystery party. Presented by Murder One UK, the event brought people of different ages, races, cultures and beliefs together to help solve the mystery at St Bart’s Church.”
The event – which was held at the iconic St Bart’s Church in Armley – saw actors play out a murder that the audience then had to solve. As well as being free to attend, guests enjoyed free food and a subsidised bar.
“With the help of the Inner West council members we were able to secure money from the Wellbeing Fund to make the event a success.” Arron explained. “We are now developing workshops for people to attend and put together their own murder mystery.”
Founded in July 2016, Community Central was set up with a goal of changing lives through empowering people and communities.
The group runs a number of community projects in partnership with various other organisations with the aim of giving local people the tools they need to help themselves get the most out of their lives and their communities. The murder mystery workshops, part of the Follow The Detectives project use a mock murder mystery to bring community members together. Aron says
“[As a result of getting involved] local people will be able to work together to create their own murder mystery which helps them to develop skills and show their community what can happen when you work together.”
Aron’s colleague at Community Central, Roxane Newsome, added:
“Creative projects, such as Follow the Detectives encourage people to think outside the box, develop resourcefulness and new skills which can be carried into other areas of life, including work.”
And it wasn’t just the Community Central staff who were satisfied by the murder mystery party. Guests in attendance were full of praise for the event with one commenting that it ‘was so much better than expected’. When asked for their summary of the night, another guest commented simply: “People came together, worked together and had fun together”.
With the success of the event at St Bart’s, Community Central have shown they are going from strength to strength since their inception last summer. As well as Follow the Detectives, other notable projects from the not-for-profit company include SNAP (Stop Now And Plan) and The Hambleton Project.
In partnership with West Yorkshire Police and the Crime Commissioner, SNAP is designed to help tackle anti-social behaviour by working with young offenders to self-analyse their behaviour and set goals for their lives.
Implemented by Community Central, the project has seen success in reducing anti-social behaviour within West Leeds.
The Hambleton Project – named after blogger Rachaele Hambleton of parttimeworking mummy.com – is a campaign to help victims of domestic violence flee abusive situations and find secure accommodation as well as support with legal, housing and financial matters.
The project gives service users access to workshops that empowers them to regain independence and get into work.
In addition to these successful projects, the organisation also hosts regular job fairs in Leeds Kirkgate Market in order to directly connect jobseekers with potential employers.
After eight months of building cohesion in the community, Aron hopes that residents in West Leeds will continue to support their exciting initiatives in bringing people together:
“Community Central is a small grassroots non-profit organisation located in Armley with passion that reaches far beyond any major charity.
“[The founders] live and work in the communities that we are helping and we believe in fighting for people by building them up to fight with us. We work to develop and build community groups into strong organisations and push for the support that they need.”