One of the things I love about social media is how it allows communities to connect and debate. It allows people who previously had no voice to join with other people to share an opinion. I am not saying that I am always in agreement with the posts I see on my own local community forums but I do respect what other people have so say. We should never discourage this as it is what allows people that would otherwise not meet and come together around a cause, to occur.
I feel very passionate about supporting my local town. I wasn’t born here but my husband was and we live here by choice. We have 4 generations of our family in our town, a town centre with emerging independent shops and a good nightlife due to the thriving pubs and music venues. We have a canal, a river, and riverside facilities. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? Well to me it is. Having been brought up on an estate in Wales where as lovely as it was, we simply didn’t have the amenities our town has so close to home, I take none of it for granted.
We can all paint a rosy picture of where we live but I am confident that everyone, regardless of where would say there is room for improvement and our town centres are typically in need of most support.
Like all town centres, we have lost the big brand shops and the face of the high street is changing. Reports tell us that our high street needs more centrally based public services to keep encouraging footfall so that the shops that we do have are still able to thrive. But we are losing many of these services too. Plans for doctor surgeries to relocate to a new build on the outskirts of town, with associated pharmacies which will be stripping our town centre of yet more reasons to be there. Despite all this, however, we still do have local residents with businesses who proactively choose to base themselves in our town and I feel compelled to support them in as many ways as I can.
I have joined a community-based organisation, focused on building on and celebrating the heritage of our town. It has been a fantastic way to not only discover more about the assets of our town but my aim is to play a role in shaping strategies and attract funding to build it up at one of its most challenges times. I have also helped to reignite our town’s online community on twitter.
Whatever our expertise or experience, we can all make a contribution, on a voluntary basis, to support the communities around us. This can be a community as wide as the entire town, or the pockets you identify with most. Whether this is shop openers forums, parent and toddler groups, men’s mental health meetups or fitness clubs, there is something in your community that will resonate with you. Importantly these communities need you too. Thriving communities are at the heart of our town and individually or collectively they make a huge impact on the local economy and our vital to keep our town’s vibrant.
Where do your people hang out? Join them in person or online and make a contribution of your time and you will get so much more in return. Your community needs you.