Updated: Apr 14, 2020
This strange time of hidden dangers and uncertainty has brought my community together.
It started with a friend setting up a WhatsApp group to see who could be on-call to help local residents, if needed, during the lockdown. It was great to put names and door numbers to faces.
Our WhatsApp conversations centred around the uncertainty this pandemic could bring to our lives, but in true British style, it was a pragmatic, friendly exchange of ideas, with a few laugh out loud pictures of ‘what would happen if you cut your own hair’ to raise a smile.
Our group evolved to encompass the wider area, so we decided to deliver letter-box flyers with our contact details on. The response was wonderful. People of all ages joined the WhatsApp group, and many called or texted to thank us for the gesture of support.
We don’t know what the future holds, but at least we know that if we need an emergency loo roll or wine (yes, it’s been requested!) we’re working as a team to get it to those in need.
The group continues to grow but I wondered whether we could go one step further and offer a tangible place where people can come, albeit individually and not for a chat, but to share things.
I got the idea of a Community Board from one in my parents’ neighbourhood on the other side of town. It had been an instant hit in that lovely area, where people move in and stay. They already had a sense of community, but the board helped give it a centre point – not to meet, but to stop and look while out on their daily exercise.
People were sharing veg and plants, books and even home-made ‘isolation colouring books’. No one passed it without stopping for a check of the local news!
So we set to work. A friend gave us some pallets. We had a brief plan, and the rest was a sort of try-it-and-see method. My husband, with pencil placed above his ear, always knocks my socks off. Not only because he’s so good at building stuff, but because he has the patience to navigate my constant flow of ideas which have to be done right away!
Step 1: Cutting the pallets. Sorry, I can’t go into much more detail as it’s all technical stuff that I missed while the kids and I painted the notice board, floor and ourselves.
Step 2: Fasten together with screws and nails.
Step 3: Attach the ‘roof’ and the notice board.
Step 4: Trickiest of all, somehow attach to the front garden wall.
Hey presto! Here it is in position, complete with hand sanitiser, shelf for sharing books and magazines, platform for everything else, and a pinboard for info, advice, positive quotes and general happiness-spreading vibes.
I really hope our local friends and neighbours see a benefit in having a Community Board and view it as a symbol of hope and positivity.
We cannot control much at the moment, but we can control how we treat others. Reaching out to neighbours has enabled us to recreate what ‘community’ meant when our parents were young. Wouldn’t it be great to have found a silver lining in an otherwise scary time?
It might feel like we’re living in an endless run of Sundays at the moment, but there might (probably will) come a time when we need support from our neighbours. We might need the vegetables that people offer or seeds so we can grow our own. The happy quote might help us get through an otherwise dark or lonely day.
I’d stress that our Community Board is not a place to meet, but a place to stop, look and share. A place that demonstrates our support for our neighbours, community, nation and world.
Is this something that you would consider doing? It doesn’t have to be much; a table or notice board would do. I’d love to hear your ideas…