PEOPLE across the country are taking action to make positive changes where they live after attending an inspirational Eden Project Community Camp.
From supporting people experiencing loneliness and isolation to helping neighbours live more sustainably and creating vital new green spaces, they’re now calling on other people to follow in their footsteps and see what they could achieve.
Research undertaken by Eden Project Communities earlier this year revealed that people wanted to be more involved where they live during the pandemic, with nearly half of people (45%) saying they want to do more for their local community than they currently do.
Eden Project’s Community Camp organisers, who recognise that the surge in community spirit seen at the start of the pandemic is receding, are keen to support people who now see the value of neighbourliness and want to do more.
Helen Alves from Buckinghamshire attended a Community Camp earlier this year and has since set up The Ivers Hive, a weekly group where parents in her local area can socialise and redistribute pre-loved items. Aiming to combat the financial hardship and loneliness experienced by young families in her area during the pandemic, the group is currently running a summer holiday programme which has attracted over 100 people, and also offers a clothes and school uniform recycling scheme, where people can donate pre-loved items and come away with new clothes and toys if they need them.
Helen is now encouraging more people to attend a virtual version of the community camp, designed to support anyone who wants to do positive things where they live. She said:
“Attending Community Camp was so inspiring! It gave me confidence and strengthened my resolve to start this project.”
Christine Sherburne from Salford says she was ‘galvanised into action’ after attending a community camp in 2019. Keen to get people on her street together, the 65-year-old first organised a socially distanced VE Day party during the lockdown and then turned her head to ensure children had a safe space to socialise and play while being unable to go further afield.
Christine cleared and tidied a disused alleyway behind her street, adding refurbished benches and planting flowers and vegetables in recycled plant pots. The project rapidly gained momentum, with neighbours joining forces to lend their support, providing funds to Christine for maintenance, donating more plants, and eventually using the space to enjoy barbecues and outdoor gatherings together.
“The pandemic really highlighted the need for us to be connected at a local level. Some people had lived here for 30 years and hadn’t ever spoken to each other. Now we talk all the time, people help each other, and all the children play together. We’re a rock-solid community.”
Also making a difference where she lives is Rosie Edwards from Bournemouth, who runs the eco-friendly initiative SOBO Wastebusters. Rosie set up the group in 2019 when she and two friends were looking to share the local discoveries they’d made in their quest for a zero-waste lifestyle. Aiming to spread information and support people to be more environmentally friendly, the group has successfully brought people in Rosie’s local area together to combine their efforts in fighting climate change.
Since attending an Eden Project Community Camp earlier this year, Rosie has been motivated to connect even more closely with her neighbours and recently helped to organise a ‘jumble stroll’, where people on her street gave away and sold unwanted items for charity.
“Going to Community Camp gave me an opportunity to reflect and have time for myself to think about where my project was going. I would definitely recommend it to anyone wanting to start a project in their community – it’s a great chance to meet some inspirational people and pick up some tips and tricks.
Community Camp takes place on 1-2 October and is open to anyone starting out in their community journey. Complete with interactive sessions, practical activities, networking opportunities and inspiring speakers, the free two-day online learning experience aims to provide a valuable foundation for people looking to explore their potential to make a positive difference where they live.
Attendees will have the chance to delve deeper into topics such as confidence building, recognising and growing skillsets, connecting with local networks and identifying resources, as well as meeting and sharing ideas with like-minded people with whom they have the potential to form a lasting peer network.
Tracey Robbins, Head of Eden Project Communities UK Delivery, said:
“Christine is just one of the 1600 community-minded people who have been inspired to start more than 1000 initiatives at our camps over the years. She’s a testament to the idea that anyone can support their community to thrive just by taking that all-important first step of exploring their ideas.
“For many of us around the country, the pandemic resulted in more time spent with our neighbours and local communities than ever before, but we also found ourselves lonelier and more isolated. That’s why we’re keen to welcome to camp people who want to begin to grow the connections they’ve made, whether that’s meant hosting online coffee mornings during the pandemic, setting up a neighbourhood contact group, or even taking part in your first Big Lunch.”
Community Camp is an idea from Eden Project Communities, who also runs The Big Lunch, the UK’s annual big date, to celebrate and thank our neighbours and communities. Started in 2009, it’s an idea from the Eden Project that brings 6 million people together each year, made possible by The National Lottery and supported by Iceland and The Food Warehouse. In 2022, The Big Lunch will be part of Her Majesty The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee celebrations.
For more information on how to sign up for Community Camp, please visit: www.edenprojectcommunities.com.