Four Ideas to Keep Communities United
Community is at the heart of the human experience, and it is often the strength of a local community that allows individuals to get through the most difficult of challenges. From the Blitz spirit that pervaded throughout the Second World War to the recent terrorist attacks during which locals offered their homes to strangers and taxi drivers let families travel for free, communities are often at their best when times are at their worst.
Of course, you don’t have to wait for crisis to see a community working in harmony. If you want to do more to see the members of your community working towards common goals, here are a few ideas to help you bring all those around you a little closer together.
Nelson Mandela famously embraced the power of sport to unite not just a local community but an entire nation. Major sporting events are well known for their ability to draw communities together. People who don’t much care for football will often tune into the World Cup, especially if England are doing well. The same goes for Ruby or Wimbledon when a British player makes it through to one of the latter stages.
When Milton Keynes-based football team the MK Dons made it through to the final of the Johnsons Paint Trophy, 33,000 of their fans – around one in six of the entire population of the town – made their way to Wembley for the game in a remarkable display of community unity.
Sporting events also bring people together in other ways. Around £250 million was bet on the 2017 Grand National. Setting up a sweepstake is a fun way to bring a group together over a sporting event, and with the UK being home to some of the largest bookmakers in the world and with easy access to a vast array of online betting sites, offering everything from odds on sporting events to bingo and casino games, you have plenty of options to choose from.
When individuals volunteer their time to help the lives of others, the whole community benefits. Working for free for the benefit of others has the unique ability to bring people together from a wide range of social sectors. Background and previous preferences matter little when everyone is working towards a common goal.
Studies show that those who volunteer in this way also feel a greater sense of purpose in their lives, are less likely to struggle with depression, and experience significantly lower levels of stress.
Another way to volunteer and bring your community together is to set up a gardening gang. Many communities have areas of green space that have seen better days. Getting together with other locals to dig out the weeds and perhaps plant a few flowers will give you a chance to really get to know one another, get a little exercise and, of course, brighten up the area to the benefit of all.
One of the best ways to create strong bonds between members of a community is to find out what you have in common with one another. It is often only once we realise that we all have the same dreams and goals that we realise other more obvious differences between us matter far less.
One public art project put this to the test by putting up blackboards and asking people to write out their goals. The dreams that were listed included everything from climbing a mountain and going into space to becoming a famous rock star or winning the lottery. The beauty of the project was that, despite everyone have a different goal, sharing them brought people together and helped inspire many to either work harder to achieve their aims or to do what they could to help others achieve theirs.
Food and Drink
A new approach to bringing members of communities together is to focus on the universal need for and love of good food. Shared meals are at the heart of many important social occasions, such as Christmas, a wedding or simply a big roast for the family on a Sunday afternoon.
In recent years there have been a series of supper clubs that have formed with the aim of bringing together people from different parts of a community and unite them with a meal composed by chefs from conflict zones. Cue cards are often left on the table to help provoke discussions among the participants. Such events not only foster links between locals but also do much to bring a greater understanding of some of the issues facing members of the global community.
Elsewhere in the country, locals have been encouraged to get involved in the production of food itself, by not just attending farmers markets but also getting involved in the picking and preparation of good to gain a far stronger understanding of what is involved. It also strengthened the bonds between members of the community living in and around the farm itself.
Everyone loves a good party, and holding one in our local neighbourhood is a sure way to lift spirits and strengthen ties between neighbours. Such events are especially important in modern times when longer community times and the ability to work online mean we spend less time mingling with one another than we did in the past. Look for the best areas around your house to enjoy food, drink and the company of your neighbours.
Street parties are particularly exciting for more diverse communities where they can provide an opportunity to try out new and unfamiliar dishes. Arranging the first such event to coincide with a Royal Wedding is a great way to get started, but there is nothing to stop you picking a good weekend in the summer and throwing your party then for no other reason than the fact that it is an opportunity for people to have lots of fun.
Many local councils are able to provide lots of assistance, such as issuing temporary road closures and providing additional waste collection services in the aftermath of an event. They can also arrange for details of the party to be advertised in advance so that anyone who may be affected by the road closure will know all about it.