What next? Is this the end of community spirit?

The City Council has launched an online survey to capture people’s experiences of lockdown. Communities are being invited to participate in focus groups and a documentary entitled ‘What Next?’ has been released to encourage a city-wide conversation about where we go from here.

In the article below we hear from Communities Portfolio Holder, Councillor Rebecca Langton and documentary maker, Tracey Whitefoot, as they share their reflections on these important questions for Nottingham people.

Councillor Rebecca Langton, Portfolio Holder for Communities: “When lockdown started communities across Nottingham came together to look after each other and support the most vulnerable in our society. But as lockdown eases, and shielding comes to an end, we find ourselves asking: What next for community spirit..?

There’s no question that coronavirus and lockdown have been difficult for people for many different reasons. Loneliness, isolation, mental health, home schooling, financial difficulties and strained relationships to name just a few. But there have been positives too, we’ve seen silver linings to the coronavirus cloud, especially the sense of community spirit and togetherness that has been so strongly reignited.

Over the past 4 to 5 months myself and colleagues at the City Council have been blown away by the efforts of Nottingham’s neighbours, faith, community and voluntary groups. We know full well the stories of people checking on their neighbours, picking up shopping and collecting prescriptions. Faith and community groups have responded by organising food distribution networks. Food banks, restaurants, supermarkets and taxi drivers all came together to prepare, cook and distribute meals. Tennant’s and Residents Associations, Mutual Aid groups and many other networks have all swung into action with one common purpose, helping people in need.

I have so much respect for all of the people who have worked so hard to help others. From the City Council’s figures alone we know that over 18,000 people have been supported while they were shielding, more than 2,000 emergency food parcels have been delivered and over 2,400 ‘calls for help’ to the Council’s emergency helpline have been responded to. It’s been a huge partnership effort and we should all take a moment to reflect on what can be achieved when we come together as a city.

But, as lockdown eases and the government’s shielding measures come to an end, people may find themselves reflecting on what comes next? We know one thing for certain, we don’t want to lose our sense of community spirit.”

Tracey Whitefoot, Nottingham photographer, has videoed the work of Nottingham’s community groups throughout the lockdown. Tracey has volunteered her time to produce a short documentary entitled ‘What Next?’

Tracey explains more about the documentary: “When I talk to people about this project, I always say how lucky I am to have been out to so many different community groups to witness them doing such amazing work during this crisis, and the positivity of that has kept me going at times.

I feel like I’ve been in quite a unique situation, meeting so many people from so many backgrounds and places, volunteering their time so selflessly to help people out. It’s been humbling, uplifting and at times life affirming.

When lockdown started to ease, I found myself like many people in a reflective place, wondering what comes next and if we’ve learnt anything from this crisis.

Nottingham’s amazing groups and volunteers, with their combined knowledge and experience, have such an important part to play in answering the question about What Next? After all, these are the people who were right in the middle of it all, and so I was really interested in what they would have to say about ‘what comes next’.

I felt like I owed it to these groups to ask them these questions, and to document their responses. So I decided to put my new skills as a videographer to the test, and make a short documentary. It wasn’t about being paid, or commissioned to do it, it just felt like a fitting conclusion to a project that has had a major impact on me.

What I’ve witnessed while out making the individual videos, is that there is a massive power in communities coming together, and when that happens it feels like literally anything is possible. Surely we don’t want to lose that now.”

To watch the What Next? documentary please click on the video above.

To take part in the online survey click here: https://www.nottinghamcity.gov.uk/engage-nottingham-hub/open-consultations/nottingham-city-council-covid-survey

Alternatively, if you’d like to take part in a focus group please email engage@nottinghamcity.gov.uk Thank you!


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