I reckon I’ve been good this year. I think the beardy bloke in the red jacket should look kindly on me, so I’ve started writing my list. Thing is, every time I think of something I realise I don’t need to ask for it outside our wonderful membership network! And neither do you...

If you’re looking for help, advice, inspiration or support to make your community a better place (or just fancy indulging yourself over the festive season) our amazing members can help.

We’ve people who’ve saved parks, re-opened swimming pools, built affordable housing, started festivals, run farms, created community hubs, revitalised museums, renovated sports grounds and much, much more.

And we’ve members who can provide you with everything you and yours could want over Christmas. But the great thing that unites Locality members is their belief in the power of community. They, like us, are committed to creating a fairer society so the treats are for everyone, not just the lucky few. Read on and share the festive cheer!

All I want for Christmas is .. a lovely tree

In last year’s Christmas blog we told you about community gardens and woods selling beautiful fir trees to fill your home with that lovely Christmas tree scent, but not everyone has the room (or the budget) for a real tree.

How about this great tree handmade from recycled wood and complete with lights and baubles?

This beautiful thing comes from Heeley City Farm (HCF) in Sheffield. Founded in 1981, HCF began with £20 in the bank, donated saplings and flower seeds, a hut, a goat and masses of help from enthusiastic local people. It now employs over 30 people and as well as being a rare breeds farm delivers a huge number of food, environment and energy-related projects.

Branch out and spread your message

New member and recently formed organisation The Power House – Poole created this great entry for their local Christmas Tree Festival.

They’ve used the decorations to let people know about their plans to facilitate business start-ups, create work experience opportunities and raise aspirations for young people. They’ve also placed baskets and boxes underneath for donations to the local food bank and Routes to Roots, which provides rough sleepers and vulnerably housed people in Poole with hope for the future.

From small acorns…

While we’re talking about trees take a look at Tree Shepherd, whose name and approach is inspired by the book The Man Who Planted Trees by Jean Giono.

In the book the narrator is inspired by a patient shepherd in a desolate area who painstakingly plants hundreds of acorns, which, in time, grow into beautiful forests.

Tree Shepherd sees itself as planting acorns too, creating employment and transforming deprived areas into thriving communities by training, supporting and believing in local people and enterprises.

All I want for Christmas is… some slap-up food and drink

Hot chocolate! Just makes you think of wrapping presents by the fire or warming up after a crisp winter walk. Many of our members serve drinks and more in community cafes providing places where everyone belongs.

This rather splendid (fully biodegradable) cup can be sampled at Strawberry Line Café in Somerset. Based in a wonderful heritage setting the cafe exists to create employment opportunities for people who experience high levels of unemployment and social exclusion.

Something missing?

What better to have with a hot chocolate than a festive gingerbread man!! Many members have been bringing people together to bake and decorate Christmas goodies.

This inclusive little chap (on the left) is gluten, dairy and soya free and comes from the brilliant Chill in the Community in York. A cafe, hub and arts space for all generations, they are proud to say they’re ‘developing community cohesion with coffee and crayons’!

Prefer to do your own baking?

Why not use community-milled flour? Queens Mill near Wakefield is the largest stone ground mill in the world with 20 pairs of 100-year-old stones.

It’s been saved and restored by Castleford Heritage Trust who have already raised over £3000 by selling traditionally stone ground flour made from locally sourced wheat. They even provide a recipe for Christmas cake!

It’s the holidays – enjoy a takeaway!

Sadly, not everyone has the chance to enjoy good food at Christmas. Many Locality members run food banks and parcel schemes but East Durham Trust has gone a step further and created a radical new project.

The People’s Takeaway recognises that often families in crisis have limited opportunities to cook and therefore delivers hot food direct to their doors, just like a regular takeaway, except that the food is free!

All I want for Christmas… is to give some lovely gifts

Christmas really is a time for giving. But remember, it’s the thought that counts. Many of our members provide debt advice and sadly see a huge increase in people needing their help after over-stretching themselves at Christmas.

Of course, we’d suggest that you buy your gifts locally, from community businesses, and many members have already held wonderful Christmas Fairs. But even then sometimes gifts don’t quite hit the spot.

The Ivy House in Nunhead, London’s first co-operatively owned pub, is using this fact to keep the Christmas spirit alive after The Big Day and bringing their community together for a gift exchange– a chance to swap a gift you’re not so keen on for something you’d prefer!

A time to come together

The customer service team at member Age UK North Tyneside is busy delivering gifts kindly donated by local police cadets.

Chief Superintendent Sarah Pitt, of Northumbria Police said: “I am incredibly proud of the work that our cadets have done and would like to thank all those who gave up their own time and donated gifts as part of Project Christmas.

“It should help bring a smile to some of the most vulnerable in our society. The festive period can be a lonely time for some people living in our communities, so this is an incredibly thoughtful way to spread some Christmas cheer and give presents to those who deserve a little treat.”

Say it with a card

Sometimes a card is all it takes to make someone’s day. The Exchange Creative Community CIC in Morecambe uses art and creativity to grow community wellbeing, aspiration and enterprise.

They’ve put together a collection of fantastically creative cards by ten local artists, Incredible quality, and entirely limited edition, these cards will both brighten someone’s Christmas and help provide further services in the future.

There’s so much happening across our membership network all year, not just for Christmas…

If you’re not a member of Locality yet why not buy yourself the gift that keeps on giving! Membership provides year-round opportunities to unlock the power of community. It’s quick and easy to join. Make it your New Year’s resolution!

Got a question?

Just ask. Email us at members@locality.org.uk

Wishing you and yours a peaceful festive season and a great 2019!

Photo: Birmingham Settlement

 

 

 

The blog’s lead image is Witton Lodge Community Association.