Three cheers for community life
PUBLISHED: 12:05 21 June 2012 | UPDATED: 21:32 20 February 2013
Up and down the county people have been dusting off picnic tables, baking cakes and hanging bunting for a summer of celebration. Shropshire Rural Community Council report on the joy of being part of a community
How often in a lifetime do we have events like the Olympics and the Queens Jubilee happening in such quick succession? Its the perfect excuse for village halls, schools, WI groups and local residents to join in the fun.
When the pace of life is so fast, its rare to have the chance to meet up with your neighbours. Collective occasions build the fabric of communities that we value and cherish so much. So how can we make it last and create a legacy of community life?
Growing communities and sharing the learning with a wider audience is at the heart of the work undertaken by the staff and volunteers at Shropshire Rural Community Council (RCC).
Shropshire RCC runs a network of volunteers in rural areas around the county, who recognise and support members of the community that live alone and cannot easily get out and about. Over in Minsterley, Cynthia Thomas isnt quite sure how she would manage without the lovely volunteers who take her to hospital appointments and the supermarket. This service means everything to me, says the 80 year old, who is one of dozens of Minsterley residents who have come to depend on their Good Neighbours. Undertaking tasks like grass cutting, changing library books or collecting prescriptions can be the catalyst for providing a regular contact and keeping people in touch with the wider world. Often the volunteers are drivers and can take people to visit friends or go shopping, and everyone needs a little company from time to time.
At the Village SOS conference hosted by the RCC in Shrewsbury recently, Cheswardine outlined how their community came together to create a shop for their village. After many hours of planning, hard work and meetings, they now have a tiny shop attached to their pub. But more than somewhere to sell basic supplies (and vast quantities of sweets to the local school children), this is a community hub of information and volunteering opportunities as well as supporting the local bakery.
Young people have had the opportunity to undertake community work for their Duke of Edinburgh Award scheme, and even the people in the local residential home have been included. Its humbling to realise that, for some, the only choice they can make in a week is what to buy from the local tuck shop, offered as an outreach service from the shop.
And down in the south of the county, the village of Caynham, Village of the Year in 2008, is an example to any community of how much can be done with very little resource. Spread out over a wide rural area, the village has no shop or pub but they have a small school, a village hall and a church and from these they run a programme of events and activities which reach out to everyone, whatever their interest. Keeping in touch is easy through the village website and their new Facebook page, and at the heart of their success has been their Parish Plan, developed with support from Shropshire RCC staff. Village Hall Secretary, Sue Fleetwood, commented: Working together as a village is a great bonding exercise. It was surprising how many good ideas came out of some concentrated brainstorming.
So while you are basking in the warm feeling of being involved in your community this summer, and want to keep it going, give the team at Shropshire RCC a call and find out how we can help.
Telephone 01743 360641 or firstname.lastname@example.org