Annabelle MacFadyen, a street activator who has been facilitating the weekly zoom calls for members of the network shares her thoughts on the last few months.
It’s six months since the Neighbourhood Network began. Soon after lockdown street groups were springing up to offer neighbourly support in a challenging time and the Network provided a way of representatives from those streets to get together and share experiences, ideas and information. We have heard heartening stories of people helping their neighbours with shopping, of street giveaways, share boxes, front yard concerts and garden produce sharing.
There have been weekly meetings on zoom where streets ‘activators’ have enjoyed meeting others who are equally enthused about building more connected and caring neighbourhoods. As well as sharing what’s going well, we have discussed local issues and shared our challenges, gaining support and advice from each other.
We are also having conversations about how we can continue to develop the Network as a citizen-led initiative where each street has its own unique way of doing things but are also linked together for mutual benefit. There have been lots of useful discussions around visions and aims for the Network which are helping us understand its wider potential.
We have begun making links with existing Frome organisations that are involved in supporting well-being in the Community. At our last meeting Jenny Hartnoll of Mendip Health Connections talked to us about their inspiring projects in Frome including the Community Connectors training, which we are now able to offer to the Network. Other training opportunities are being suggested and you will find some of these in this newsletter.
As we head into winter and further Covid-19 restrictions we are looking at how we will stay connected and keep our spirits up. Ideas include a Window Wanderland for Halloween, street lantern making and perhaps even a street Fun Palace? If you have ideas please do feed them into the Network.
From the beginning, Frome Town Council (FTC) have been supporting us through their Community Development programme led by Kate Hellard. More recently a successful lottery application has enabled FTC to take on a Project Officer, Hannah Stopford, to help develop the Network. Hannah has been out and about meeting people to find out how the Network might serve their street. She has encountered a wide variety of interests, needs and offers.
The Network is growing steadily with 37 Streets signed up, including some groups that existed before lockdown. In some areas, streets are beginning to link up with adjoining streets to form a wider neighbourhood group. This could be a way of sharing resources and undertaking projects together, perhaps leading to a series of mini-villages across Frome?
We’d love to hear your ideas of what we might do together at the street-level to build stronger, caring and resilient communities for whatever the future holds. Just email Hannah Stopford to share your thoughts.