Sophie Bridger previews the Month of Community
Just over a year ago, I was cycling around Leith delivering food to strangers. I was furloughed, and using an afternoon or two a week to volunteer with a local food project. The reasons for being there were anything but positive – widespread food poverty and insecurity in the face of a global pandemic. But there were also small things to hold on to. When everything else was uncertain and dark, I loved volunteering. I loved being able to take food grown in Leith to someone who needed it and often greeted me with a smile, grateful for a small social interaction. I loved getting to meet other people in my community, other volunteers, other people at the food project.
I’m not going to romanticise the last year, or try to describe the darkness of it – I hope we never see its like again. But I don’t think I’m the only one who benefited from the moments of connection we found. I felt less lonely, less helpless by looking out for the people around me. I always enjoyed living in Leith but I feel more connected to my community than I did before lockdown. I want to find a way to keep volunteering, to keep speaking to my neighbours, and to give something back.
We don’t have to leave these things behind when the pandemic ends. We can emerge from lockdown thinking differently about our communities, prioritising our need for social connection and supporting each other. But if we want to keep these things, we have to find space for them in our lives. It is all too easy to forget them as we reconnect with the people and things we have missed so much. We have to make time for community connection, and celebrate the amazing things that grow out of it.
That’s why this year, Eden Project Communities is celebrating June as the Month of Community, an opportunity for us to celebrate community connection and keep it alive. Kicking off with Volunteers Week and the Big Lunch (starting 5-6 June), and finishing with Thank You Day, it covers a whole month of fantastic events to help us keep in touch with our neighbours and communities. And we would love you to get involved, however works for you!
Community starts with something as small as a wave or a smile, or a poster in the window. Why not hold a Big Lunch, and get to know your neighbours better? You could celebrate Volunteers Week by nominating someone amazing in your neighbourhood, or by thanking the volunteers in your street! You could hold a neighbourhood fundraiser as part of Small Charities Week, and collect some much needed funds for a brilliant local organisations.
So let’s keep talking to our neighbours, making new friends in our communities, and remember how much we all depend on each other. For more info, go to Eden Project Communities website, and discover all the ways you can celebrate June as the Month of Community.