The beginnings of a collaborative space built by people in Bearwood


#MakeItHappen so we can meet more people

Reflections on conversations at Bearwood Action for Refugees’ monthly Community Lunch

Last Saturday I was very excited to have been asked to share lunch at Bearwood’s monthly lunch for newly arrived families and local families. At this lunch, volunteers cook (and wash up!) so that families can rest, chat, play and get to know one another. After lunch there was a choice of more play and nattering or Baby Yoga or adult’s yoga.

Over a good lunch and for a good time afterwards I had some great conversations about the potential for a community hub. Ideas about a cookery school that others have mentioned before and I shared, were greeted with ready offers of help - “I’ll teach my friends how to cook Nigerian rice and stew!”, or another lady offered “I’ll teach how to cook affordable meals on a tight budget”. There were other conversations about the importance of such a space too. I obviously come with my own ideas about how it could be helpful in our community. But listening to others is the whole point of starting conversations and the #MakeItHappen meetings.

Loneliness came up as a big issue:

I have nowhere to meet people. My English is not brilliant. It’s lonely sitting at home all the time. If I had somewhere to go that I knew was always there, where I could practice my English and meet people, life would be easier. It’s easy to get depressed.

So did childcare:

I only have family help for a short time. When that finishes I will have to give up work because I cannot afford the childcare. I don’t want to give up work.

Flexible and affordable childcare is something that we have always envisaged attempting in the community hub space. It will be a huge challenge, but one that we don’t want to lose sight of.

There were other challenges and ideas shared that different individuals at the lunch said was also important to them - or they knew would be relevant to other friends, most of which we managed to capture on paper:

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“I would like to teach ladies how to braid their own hair”

“The space needs to be open all the time - the community needs to know it’s always there”

“I would love to take part in a community cooking club - teaching and learning!”

“Today it was nice to come and share the food with the community. The pleasure will be mine to come again”

“A play group and a cup of tea”

“I need lots of space to do physical play”

“Toddler gym!”

“We need people near by to talk to or to help so we can feel less depressed”

“Meeting people is important”

“A choir with my children - I can’t get to the library one!”

Lots to build on and many conversations to continue - some of them on the first open #MakeItHappen meetings on 16th October. To end for the moment, here’s a message from 7 year old Lucy. At the community lunch she asked if she could have a piece of my flipchart paper. She took it away unprompted and came back with this:



Sally TaylorComment