Lessons in Community…

In 2008 I was Headteacher of a good school. Young people and adults came together each day. Teachers were learners; learners were teachers. Leaders served, children learnt respect and care. We described ourselves as ‘In the community, with the community, for the community’. It was a community of good people working together, playing together growing together.

In 2009 I became a director of ‘The Seagull’. Our community theatre had been threatened with demolition; a group of us determined to keep it alive and active. People came together bringing different skills – actors and musicians, experts and enthusiasts, makers of scenery and costumes, volunteers to run a bar and a box office, administrators and technicians. Our strapline is ‘Transforming Our Community Through The Arts’… a community within our community.

In 2016 we set up our Men’s Shed. Initially a dozen or so older men started to meet together, working in, working on, developing, a big, old shed. We came from a wide variety of backgrounds… building sites, factories, offices… working in education, the health service, the armed forces… milkmen, postmen, bus drivers all together. Different beliefs, expectations, education… meeting together 3 days a week, enjoying, appreciating and benefiting from life in community…

In 2023 I’ve started attending Helen’s ‘Music For Wellbeing’ group. Folks with dementia and their carers… able-bodied, able-minded folks… folks with impairments, in wheelchairs… If there’s dependency there’s not inferiority. Community is achieved through music and a cup of tea… that encompasses compassion, skill, enthusiasm and enjoyment and our ongoing wellbeing…

Later in 2023 we shall have a new minister for our church community. I believe that one of her key jobs will be to maintain, develop and inspire us together as community… learning together, working together, singing together, laughing together and crying together. It’s a community where all are important, regardless of age, education, disability… where all skills, contributions and are valued and valuable… where we demonstrate and appreciate love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control…

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