You never know what’s going on when a poster reads ‘Come to the Big Brew’. I knew it was something about community, so nosey me went along, ready to do a little sprint in case it wasn’t up my street.
The initial meeting – last September – was organised by local health worker, Carlos Tait, from the NHS under the umbrella of Manchester Health and Care Commissioning.
From this flowed a number of group and personal sessions under the banner of Ardwick Community Group Coaching Sessions, delivered by Dionne Spencer of the Mutual Gain organisation.
This group aims ‘to empower organisations and communities to reconnect in the social space’. The organisation of the sessions was ‘a structured process that enables and empowers individuals to bridge the gap between where they are now and where they would like to be in the future’.
In the first session the coach encouraged us to get to know ourselves: our aims, values, understanding of ourselves and our goals.
The second session saw us understanding what’s stopping us reaching our goals, how we work as a group and support each other.
The third session helped us to see how ourselves and our goals can be community assets.
The baton was then passed on to us to continue to work towards our goals and to see how they can benefit the community. We set up a couple of meetings where we checked how far we had gone to pursue our goals and encouraged each other to achieve them.
For myself, I am keen on an allotment society and setting up a local Men’s Shed project; …for someone else it self-confidence and training in the beauty sphere; for another, public speaking, community alleyways and a Windrush project.
Our goals were varied but all community-focussed. Other included: the community café and women’s group; the men’s fitness group; the parent and toddler group; and setting up community interest companies.
We soon realised how much interest and dynamism we invest in our neighbourhood and suggested ways in which each project could be developed.
Then the dreaded coronavirus arrived and put a block on our group meetings at the Brunswick Church Community Hub – but not before we had set up some means of communication.
We called ourselves the Brunswick Success Group and set up an email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and used an Internet chat group to type to each other using our mobile devices. The chat group has been serving as a way of staying connected. Mo, one of our members, has also been using this to promote any volunteering opportunities in the area, such as the Ardwick and Longsight Covid Mutual Aid Group (phone 07930 261920).
Community seems to breed community and that breeds success.