I moved in the Spring of 2022 to a small town with 14,000 or so residents. Coincidently, it had just been named the best place to live in the UK. In truth, I tend to take these things with a pinch of salt, however in this case I would agree. I found a strong sense of local community, often missing in cities and larger towns, friendly and welcoming with the feeling of everyone being connected. Great for someone who had relocated to a new area like me, without knowing a soul. Just a warm greeting and a short chat in the morning on the way to work can make a huge difference to anyone’s day.
In the past few years, during Covid some real bonds had formed between neighbours looking out for each other and family members finding ways to keep in touch, however difficult. As we move through 2023 many people are still thinking of ways to help others. We have seen a lot of changes, from rising inflation to the ongoing costs of living, for many times are getting harder, so it’s natural that more of us want to try to help those who live close by and the places they live in better. Small things can have a big impact.
We hear the word Community a lot right now: from small locally run charities and groups to larger social business enterprises such as Community Clothing. (Founded by designer Patrick Grant,to provide affordable clothing made in British factories which has been a huge support to the local communities) But, all ventures, large, small, ambitious or modest can be of benefit.
But, what does it actually mean? I had to do some research as I wasn’t fully sure.
The most general translation appears to be: a group of people who share a common way of life which is expressed in shared beliefs, goals, values, purpose, responsibilities and communication.
You can define a community by the shared attributes of the people in it and/or by the strength of the connections among them. A culture of taking care of each other while accepting people’s differences. I think that been accepted is important. The sense of being part of something larger than we are is well- known as a source of good feeling. A bit like joining a team. Much more can be achieved in a group than by a solo pursuit.
Why are communities so important? They are often an important source of social connection and a sense of belonging. Our communities shape our understanding of others. Participating in a community bonded by attitudes, values, and goals can be an essential ingredient to enjoying a fulfilling life.
6 benefits of community and connection in challenging times:
- Vital social connection and engagement.
- Community belonging boosts physical and mental health.
- Resilient communities come together and adapt.
- Never being alone.
- Easy access to well-balanced, nutritious meals.
- Assuring safety and well-being.
Charities, groups and volunteers are going that extra mile in supporting each other and those in need. Community Foundations across the UK tackle the issue of elderly isolation by funding small, local charities and community groups who do wonderful work to help older people to cope with numerous challenges that life throws their way and to help them maintain social contact in their local community.
What can we do. Volunteering can be both rewarding and significant. Should you want to help people who are local to you, take a look at some of the organisations in your area. I have been surprised how many organisations there are local to me. There are many different ways to offer your services in a volunteering capacity.
Showing your support for local enterprises is a great way to help your local area by giving back to the local economy. One a simple level, just taking the time to acknowledge others, kindness and a smile go a long way!