Community Development is a relational tool and is largely about getting the right people in the room talking to each other. The recent Covid-19 crisis saw us finding different ways to do this, using online and telephone communication, but also linking up with new people and groups that were emerging out of people’s desire to help.
In Hollingdean, TDC works closely with a local anchor organisation that runs the Hollingdean community centre and other neighbourhood projects: The Hollingdean Development Trust (HDT).
In the first few weeks after the lockdown was announced the HDT had to adapt to the centre closing and staff working remotely. In this respect we were able to link them into the Community Buildings Network for advice on grants and government guidance. They also had a strong desire to help where they could so Ceza da Luz, our community development worker for the area, was able to support them and ensured they were linked in with other stakeholders and coordinating responses.
Hollingdean News was supported to go online with vital information. You can read the Hollingdean News Lockdown Edition here.
Most activity groups had to stop during lockdown, but the meal groups swiftly moved to a collection service to ensure people could access cooked food and be linked into the local mutual aid group, which could offer delivery for people with mobility issues.
Then there was a call out from the Brighton & Hove Food Partnership to plug a gap on the emergency food supply network. HDT immediately offered their venue and we worked with them to recruit local volunteer teams using all our networks. The food hub was able to take on the needs of people from Saunders Park & Bates Estate to help alleviate the massive demand on the Moulsecoomb & Bevendean foodbank which had over 150 people referred. The changing situation of lockdown and people on furlough or losing work meant we had new volunteers that we hadn’t worked with before and they brought with them their own networks and community knowledge, thereby broadening our reach.
As a result of this positive experience of community action:
- Vulnerable residents now know about the centre and feel comfortable using it
- Vulnerable residents are linked into other social prescribing and wellbeing services
- Local projects know more about each other and share resources and peer support more readily
- Local volunteers are better networked and keen to work together again going forward on local projects
- Local volunteers are better aware of citywide opportunities for development
One recipient of emergency food and local volunteer said “It’s good to know about the centre and you guys. Please let me know about anything else you are doing.”
The collaborative work that has taken place during the pandemic has meant that Hollingdean Development Trust has linked as an anchor organisation with a number of new creative projects, looking at how to document the period in which Covid-19 so greatly affected lives and how people are moving on afterwards. TDC along with the HDT, Hollingdean COVID-19 Mutual Aid and Hollingdean News have supported an initial survey to see how people in Hollingdean responded to the pandemic and this has evolved into The Hollingdean Story project - an archive of stories and artefacts demonstrating local people’s experiences.
Volunteer Ruth Bradley is leading on this project, collecting as many stories as possible from local people which will be made into a book of people’s experiences. If you would like to submit your story or be involved with the project group to put it all together, get in touch with Ruth at [email protected]
Below you can see some photos of the World Food Project in Hollingdean, courtesy of their facebook page.