Worcestershire organisations including the county and district councils, faith groups, schools, businesses and others are joining forces to help streets across the county to renew their sense of belonging, support and friendliness, as widely experienced in the first Lock-down.
As part of Worcestershire’s ‘As One’ campaign, the message, ‘Fill your street with friendliness’, will start to be displayed from St Valentine’s Day on hundreds of large banners across the county.
From the spring, dozens of local As One events will be put on to help the message take root in each locality. The idea is that more of a sense of connection, kindness, friendliness and belonging between people who live on the same street will be a huge boost for elderly people, young families, single people, everyone!
Dozens of churches and other faith groups, community centres and other Worcestershire partners are preparing to host As One Tea Party events, each for their own neighbourhood. There, residents from each local street will be introduced to the idea of starting a Street Association for their own street, with the aim of keeping the friendliness going long after the pandemic has lifted.
In many local areas, an As One memorial service will also be held, ahead of the tea party, to remember the anxiety, isolation, loss and bereavement experienced by so many over the last two years and to help bring a measure of peace and ‘closure’, with the tea party then seeking to take the key ‘positive’ of the pandemic – the burst of community spirit – and help it to flourish for the long term.
The two-metre banner, introducing a design which is being picked up in other parts of the UK, focuses its encouragement on ‘your street’, because a Street Association led by local residents has been shown over 10 years to be a popular way of getting people together, organizing things like a children’s party, a barbecue, quiz night or trip away, just for one’s own street.
With an agenda of ‘friendship, fun, belonging, a helping hand’, the prize is that everyone gradually gets to know everyone, friendliness is released, isolation is addressed, fun is had and practical help flows to residents who may need it. Community events are anticipated to take place from the spring, with the Platinum Jubilee as a key incentive to get neighbourly communication going in time.
Residents are encouraged to find out more about starting a Street Association where they live - see the website for more details of how to get it going. There is also an invitation to help spread the As One vision on social media (Facebook: /asoneuk; Instagram:@asoneuk; Twitter: @asoneukcampaign).
Councillor Matt Dormer, cabinet member with responsibility for communities at Worcestershire County Council, says, “I am delighted to welcome this community-led campaign that will continue the remarkable burst of community spirit we have seen since March 2020. I am excited to see Worcestershire continue to spread community spirit through this campaign and would encourage residents to get involved where they can. This is a fantastic opportunity to for us to bring the community together and celebrate the people we live with.”
The Rt Rev John Inge, Bishop of Worcester, says, “As One provides a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the joys of living in community with others. Covid significantly restricted social gatherings in person, but the inability to meet ‘for real’ both led to new ways of connecting with others and also brought home just how precious and vital our human connections are. Now is the ideal time to bring people together again As One”.