7078622052?profile=RESIZE_710xI thought it would be helpful to share my experience of the Beyond COVID-19 event that took place in Albert Rec on 11th July.

Annabel, James, Sarah and myself arrived at 1:30pm for the event to start with Sarah playing music from 2pm.

We had no idea how many people would come and were hoping for 20 (lesson learned no 1 - provide a means for people to register).

People gradually arrived in and we kicked off the event after Sarah finished playing at 3:00pm.

I introduced the process we would be following, the roles and the overall purpose of ensuring everyone felt heard and creating some energy to take the community forward.

There were around 35 people in total split into groups of 5 or up to 7.

We had a few questions for each group to discuss which explored individual's experiences of lockdown both good and bad, culminating in establishing the experiences from lockdown that they would like to keep.

This also included an oportunity for individuals who were feeling brave or impassioned enough to share their experiences of lockdown and what mattered to them.

Sarah did an amazing job of including our participants on Zoom who were unable to attend in person.

After the initial discussions, all the groups shared what they had found with the whole group.

From all of these amazing ideas, I wanted us to winnow this down to two themes of 'what we would like to keep' as a group.

This felt a bit clunky when I decided how to do this and it was a little clunky in practice (lesson learned no 2 - rethink the process for gathering themes and voting).

Annabel did an amazing job of refining all these ideas and establishing a number of themes which were:

  • Sense of community
  • Social justice
  • Peace/less traffic

Then we broke into new groups to explore these themes.

There was some impassioned conversations and some ideas were shared but I chose not to suggest a summing up at the end as I felt that people this might have caused frustration as the energy ebbed a little.

Several people said we should run an event like this again and I would like to support this with my experience in facilitation and problem solving that involves the community.

 

Annabel, James and I met to discuss what went well and what we could be improved for similar events in the future.

One aspect of this was how we framed the last section where we explored themes and it was suggested that they would have been better expressed as questions.

So, for example, the questions might be:

  • How might we maintain and build a sense of community?
  • How might we have a community where everyone feels welcome and valued?
  • How might we have streets that are more peaceful?
  • How might we make our streets feel safe

I was not involved in the discussions so these questions might not reflect the discussions.

Feel free to add these questions as a comment in the same format below 'How might we...'

Also, if you attended and would like to share your experiences and any ideas that came up in the discussions, please add them in the comments.

I would like to help facilitate a followup event (or events) and am happy to offer my expertise in helping the community to come up with ideas to help answer some of these questions.

Please contact me or Annabel directly if you are interested in any of these questions and would like to be involved.

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  • I wasn't quite sure what to expect but I ended up getting a lot out of this event. Several things really. I got to talk to neighbours I'd never met before, and it was good to hear their varied experiences of lockdown. I felt that some of the most important contributions to the various discussions came from people who were shielding and participating via Zoom. I saw how Sarah embedded the Zoom conversation in the event, linking the session on the grass with the discussions happening remotely in a skilful way.  It is clear that for many people, especially those shielding and those in small homes with no outdoor space, lockdown has brought enormous suffering, mental stress and anxiety.  In a neighbourhood like ours which feels more connected and friendly than most, I hope we can use what we've learnt from this experience to support our community through further spikes of the virus. We may need to plan for the possible impact on food supplies when the UK leaves the Customs Union next January.  Making greater efforts to connect with and include residents of large blocks such as Woodridings Court is also essential.

    • Yes, that is so important.

       

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts Suzy. I was happy to facilitate but I did realize that I missed out on all of this.

      I'd like to think about bringing in someone from outside the neighbourhood to facilitate the next  event

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