Bradley Stoke Matters was initiated in the summer of 2005 by two local mums. At this time Jaci was a first time mum who had given up full time employment as a finance director about eighteen months earlier to be a ‘stay at home mum’ when her first child was born in January 2004. She had been a resident of Bradley Stoke since 1994, but still barely knew any of her neighbours bar the ones in the immediate vicinity.
This started to change once children were on the scene! She and Alison met up as members of the same ante-natal group held at Christ the King Church in Bradley Stoke, also discovering that they were members of the same church, Holy Trinity in Bradley Stoke, although their paths had never crossed before. After the babies were born, a ‘coffee morning’ group was instigated (mostly encouraged by Alison) from eight or nine of the ante-natal group members and now, over three years down the line, there are still five of us who meet up on a weekly basis.
When the children were about 16 months old and with funds depleting, Jaci was looking for a way of staying at home with Hannah, whilst still being able to contribute something to the family pot. She looked into childminding and the obvious answer for her – accountancy from home, but wasn’t entirely happy with either choice. She was then given the idea of a community magazine – having been brought up with the ‘Village Voice’ in her own home village and there being nothing like it in the community of Bradley Stoke. She discussed the idea at the ‘morning group’ and in particular approached Alison, a mother of three, who at the time had returned to part-time employment following maternity leave but was finding her corporate job too stressful. With her genuinely sociable nature and natural flare for fundraising, Alison seemed the perfect partner in such a project.
Alison liked the initial idea and after lots of research, both locally and around the country, and in consultation with the Town Council and other local community figureheads, “Bradley Stoke Matters – in the community, for the community” was launched with the first issue being distributed in August 2005.
The premise for the magazine was that it would include community news and events from a forward planning and community involvement point of view, ie it was not to be a newspaper but rather something to pick up and find out what’s going on in the community - coffee mornings, car boot sales, toddler groups, the WI, football teams, workshops, church events, school fayres, new businesses opening, as well as being an essential tool to promote your business in the area or to locate local people providing services in the area.
Due to the high print costs, it was initially decided to distribute 2,000 copies per month, rotating the distribution area every month for three months so that a total of 6,000 homes were covered per quarter. In addition, extra copies were available around the community in places like the council offices, library, community centres and churches for residents who did not receive a copy through their doors that month to pick up.
Feedback right from the beginning was incredibly positive and constructive and the magazine quickly grew to capacity. In May of 2006, following numerous requests from the 2,000+ homes not covered by the rotating distribution pattern, Bradley Stoke Matters extended it’s coverage to include all 8,400+ homes in Bradley Stoke. With additional copies of each edition produced to enable residents from outside the area to pick up their own magazine from central community locations, the circulation increased to 9,000 copies per quarter. The magazine is in A5 format on high quality, glossy paper. Initially printed in black and white, it has since developed into a full-colour publication.
The Concept Grows!
The first edition of Little Stoke Gifford Matters was published in September 2006 and came about due to the numerous requests from residents living just a stone’s throw from our doors and using all the Bradley Stoke amenities, yet who didn’t receive their own copy of the magazine. Little Stoke Gifford Matters therefore covers all the homes in Little Stoke and Stoke Gifford as well as the areas known as Stoke Lodge and touching on Patchway – using the A38 as the cut-off border.
The combined ‘Bradley Stoke and Little Stoke Gifford Matters Magazine’ now produces 15,000 copies per quarter, with each household receiving four copies of the magazine during the course of the year. Jaci and Alison produce eight separate editions through the year, alternating between Bradley Stoke and Little Stoke/Stoke Gifford.
And Grows ….
Wanting to encourage others to set up their own community magazine, the first Matters ‘franchise’ magazine was launched in August 2006 by one of Jaci’s oldest friends (who also happens to be called Alison). The first edition of “Corsham & Box Matters” was issued in August 2006 and immediately attracted the attention of the local press. Corsham & Box Matters has quickly become a popular and sought after community publication in Wiltshire and Alison has now resigned from her part time employment in order to concentrate fully on her growing magazine!
A second franchise ‘Bishopston Matters’, run by Bishopston resident Kerry, was closely followed by ‘Emersons Green, Downend & Mangotsfield Matters’, run by Amanda. Our newest franchise is ‘Winterbourne & Frampton Matters’, run by Wendy.
*News Article printed 1 September 2006, The Bath Chronicle
“MUM SETS UP OWN NEWSLETTER
An enterprising young mum has launched a new community information booklet for the Corsham and Box District.
Alison Applegate got the idea from a friend who has been running a similar venture successfully in Bradley Stoke and thought she would take on the franchise for the Corsham and Box area. Ms Applegate, 38, actually lives in Melksham, but she decided to launch her own publication away from her own home town.
The result is Corsham and Box Matters, which is now on its second issue and is delivered every month to 1,700 addresses as well as the town council offices, tourist information centre and library in Corsham.
Ms Applegate, who has a nine year old daughter called Brooke, is also a teaching assistant at George Ward School in Melksham and fits in the newsletter around her other commitments.
It contains essential numbers for pharmacies, doctors’ surgeries and community centres, a directory of local businesses, community news and an events diary.
“The feedback has been very positive” said Ms Applegate.
“I have had lots of people from the civic society and tourist information office in Corsham and members of the public phone me up and email. It has been very well received”.
Ms Applegate started putting the first issue together at the beginning of July and delivers all of the newsletters by hand.
“It has been very, very hard work, doing it on your own is a lot of work” she said “but most people have been pretty receptive and given me a few minutes to hear what it is all about.
“My friend has been doing Bradley Stoke Matters for a year and it came off the back of her idea.
“She and Alison have been so successful in Bradley Stoke that they have launched a second magazine for Little Stoke, which is why I have done this one in Corsham.
“It is a winning formula!”
In the future, she hopes to include restaurant reviews as well as
everything that is going on in the community centres in Corsham, Box
Anyone who wants to be included in the next issue should email email@example.com or call 01225 791229.”