I think most of us during these times are finding things to do, hobbies to get stuck into and looking for ways to make this current situation as creative, productive but relaxing as possible. I am anyway!
Before lockdown I was in my final year at university, beginning to start my master’s research proposal and just about to start the engagement stage of some amazing projects for We Make Places and then BOOM ! global pandemic. In some ways the situation we find ourselves in has stopped me doing some incredible things for the time being such as, getting the ball rolling on the Melwood consultations with local residents and also expanding the social history project from Sutton Way into Brookside Primary School. However, it has also given me so much time to think and reflect.
You are probably wondering where community engagement comes into this right? Well, over the past 2 months of lockdown this emergency has also tested all our ability to be social. We can not carry on with our normal social activities, for me that usually included lots of coffee shop visits … maybe too many? However, what I have found to be so amazing about this situation is that we are all finding new ways to connect and engage. An achievement of mine is finally being able to work Zoom.. to have that coffee and catch up virtually.
Communities are coming together and we are engaging with people who we have never spoken to before. We are helping neighbours and supporting the vulnerable in our own communities through these hard times more so than ever. I now know most of the people in my road after living here for many years and that is because we have found ourselves having more time to get to know the people close to us but also it is the community support that we need during these hard times.
This global pandemic has made me think about community engagement in more ways than ever before but also it has made me more aware of actually how important communities are to us all during difficult times. It has definitely inspired me personally but also inspired me to go back to the desk and write that proposal on how brilliant and resilient communities are !! So during this time of uncertainty, confusion and a little bit of worry I have had time to bring my creative, passionate and inspired thoughts to paper and pen. Drum roll…. post lockdown I will be working with We Make Places while basing my masters research on some of the exciting and productive work that is taking place within the organisation. I am so excited to get started, be productive and carry on working with the communities that have inspired me … even if its not in the large and small groups we are used to.
Lizzie Slater has been working with We Make Places as a volunteer during her degree in human geography. She is passionate about the impact of history and sport on communities. She will be joining us and basing her Masters on the community engagement work we carry out.