Re-imagining community for our day!
Wouldn’t it be great if the community spirit that was so special during the pandemic could be reimagined for the long term? Wouldn’t that be especially relevant during a cost of living crisis? We can face difficulties so much better when we’re truly together. Wouln’t being part of a supportive community help address isolation, help mental health, boost community cohesion and see neighbourly practical support flowing to those who need it?
It’s actually happening! Please read how and help spread the As One vision everywhere!
The street level. Every street should have a ‘Street Association’. Run by a small group of residents, streets that are ‘as one’ in this way have become friendly, supportive and even loving communities. They typically put on things like a Christmas party for the kids on the street, a quiz night for the adults, or a picnic, curry evening, trip, BBQ etc. The result? Fun is had, new friendships flourish, people smile, stop for a chat, help one another and feel they really belong. Ethnic groups come together, as do the generations (see impact and evaluations for details). A transformation is achieved with a big impact on wellbeing of all kinds!
The locality level. How then does a Street Association get started? Anyone can start one. See Street Associations for how. But a catalyst to help many local streets to come together again as one can also be powerful. Community-based organizations (such as churches and community centres) are in a perfect position to take the lead at the most local level, as part of a big partnership.
The wider partnership. This is how it works. The local authority and key stakeholders come together to form the partnership. For example, in the borough of Dudley where As One is up and running, 50 churches of all denominations are already taking part, along with over 50 schools, the Dudley Interfaith Network, GP surgeries, many businesses, the council and others.
A high profile
Next, banners go up. In the case of Worcestershire, 600 large banners have gone up or are going up across the county, displaying the As One logo and the message, ‘Fill your street with friendliness’, as pictured below. “You can’t miss it”: Banners are up across Birmingham (800), Bournemouth, Christchurch & Poole (400), Dudley (400) and Walsall (300) – with Hampshire ready to go and lots more cities and counties in the pipeline. Social networking also helps spread the message.
The local web address (e.g. www.as-one.uk/dudley) takes you to a video introducing Street Associations, inviting ‘champions like you’ to help their own street enjoy community spirit long-term.
But it’s acting as a catalyst to bring people together at the very local level that can make the difference more widely. Participating neighbourhood organisations deliver an invitation letter to local streets using the well-known As One brand as a letterhead, saying ‘you’ve seen the banners; we thought we’d see what we can do to boost friendliness right here. Come to a tea party’. They come! We tried it out six times in the context of a 2018-20 Birmingham-wide campaign (called ‘Permission to Smile’, with 900 banners across the city) and it really worked – and it’s working again now!
There is space for a local slogan and a local web identity, as part of a national movement.
The thing to do
On arrival at the tea party, residents are guided to a table specially reserved for people from their own street! That means that near-neighbours sit together, get to know each other and then together hear how a Street Association could start transforming their street.
They then have a chance to discuss the idea, see if everyone thinks it’s a good one – and then start making a plan to make it happen!
When the pandemic first hit and we saw the clapping of the NHS, the WhatsApp groups and volunteering, it became clear that our first high profile campaign experience could provide a template – a tried-and-tested ‘methodology’ – to help get something great going on many streets, making a long term difference.
As One – ‘Fill your street with friendliness’. A big partnership. Local organisations putting on a tea party in their own neighourhood, leading to Street Associations and warm, friendly, supportive community that lasts!
The tea parties can happen this year, or next year and beyond. They key is to get the partnerships in place, to be ready.
‘As One’ is gathering support all over the UK, with partnerships already making a difference, and many more considering following suit. Why not find out more, get in touch with us and see whether and how a partnership might be built where you are? We are here to help.
That includes help in presenting the vision to local partners, then providing all the materials, with access to trade-marks, designs, leaflets, mentoring, clear ‘how to’ guides both for organizers and for volunteers, along with suggested talks for the tea parties, managing social networking and more.
Together, we can bring about a social revolution, replacing separateness with togetherness, loneliness with fun and and a vision to get through difficult times ‘as one’. Do, please, help us make this a reality where you are.