A Brighter Future

Back in May last year I reported on a new community initiative that had just been set up by a group of local woman.

The Dynamic Engagement Project (DEP), I was told, was a way of sharing the group members’ knowledge and skills with others in the community. It sounded like a great idea with lots of potential.

Today I’m on a Zoom call with Mo and Alison, a couple of its founding members, to see if everything has gone to plan.

“Yes,” says Alison, “we’ve put on lots of activities since then and have really put ourselves out there. We’ve had a lot of fun and, I know, helped a lot of people.”

I hear about weaving, jewellery-making, family art sessions and lots more. Mo – the Community Resource Manager at Brunswick Church, where this group all met – says the Project has been commissioned by different organisations to run sessions on their behalf.

“Last October we ran a family Halloween craft event; we’ve worked with the Women’s Royal Voluntary Service and, for S4B Housing, put on a craft session for older people at the church,” she says.

“What is it about your project, do you think, that’s attractive to other organisations?”

“Each of us is qualified in a different field,” explains Alison, “so we have lots to offer. We’re a friendly group and all live locally, so we are part of the community we’re helping.”

That’s the power of the DEP. There’s an understanding of the challenges that local people face because the members have faced the same challenges themselves.

Some of the many pieces produced by participants of the Dynamic Engagement Project’s creative sessions.

Mo describes one of their Saturday morning weaving sessions where a young woman attended with her mum. “Her mum told us of her daughter’s autism and we were able to give her extra support so she could get the most out of the workshop,” recalls Mo. “And, because some of us in the group have family members with autism, we were able to tailor that support specifically for her.”

“We like to think we can support anyone who comes along,” says Alison, “and everyone is welcome at our sessions. We’re there for anyone who’d like to learn a new skill, meet new people, or just get out of the house for a couple of hours.”

It can make people feel good that they’ve done something creative,” says Mo.

Sadly it hasn’t all been positive for the DEP over these last months. At the end of last year they lost a valued member of their team. “It was very unexpected,” says Mo. “Jacinth – Jas – was a friend and colleague and a larger-than-life character. She’d always be prepared to roll her sleeves up and have a go.

Sadly, the Dynamic Engagement Project lost a valued member of their team last year. “Jas (centre) was always be prepared to roll her sleeves up and have a go,” says Mo.

“As an early years practitioner her knowledge and experience around children and families was just phenomenal. Yes, we really miss her.”

The scope of the project, not yet a year old, is expanding. They will soon be hosting music sessions run by a university music student and are supporting a local young man who has a vision to run a young boys’ drop-in. “Malik has an idea for a club for boys aged 10 and 11, just as they are transitioning into high school,” explains Mo. “We’re right behind his ambition and we’re helping him navigate his way through the process of setting up such a group.”

Until now many of the Project’s workshops have been held at Northmoor Community Centre but the members are now actively looking for new premises. “We can run sessions pretty much anywhere,” says Alison, “and, as we’ve committed ourselves to help others, we don’t want to let them down. Even if we have to put up tables in the park, we’ll get there. We’re looking at a brighter future.”

The Dynamic Engagement Project is on Facebook here and on Twitter here. Get in touch. Get involved.