Every three months or so, I share my thoughts on local area progress with you as residents as your Big Local Rep and with the central team managing the national programme. Your comments and thoughts are always welcome.
Just as I review the last three months, we’ve gone into another national lockdown. Once again family, friends and neighbours will be facing increased social, emotional, financial and practical difficulties. But our experience to date gives renewed hope through the resilience of residents and the connections in our in communities offering so much kindness and support; together you will see this through. If you have a moment, take a look at the message from Matt Leach and what he has seen of the solidarity and strength shown by Big Local communities in the face of the crisis. This is backed by the COVID-19 research project, summarised in Rob Macmillan’s blog.
Meanwhile, Local Trust continues to look to support your area as best it can in these harsh circumstances, mainly through online support groups:
- Loneliness across the life cycle: stories and lessons from Big Local areas on Thursday 28th January 2021 between 10:00-12:00
- Community responses to mental health on Wednesday 20th January at 9:30am
- Community sports and activity. The first workshop is split into two parts and being held on Tuesday 19th January 10:00-12:00 and Tuesday 26th January 10:00-12:00
- Promoting Digital Inclusion on the Wednesday 10th February at 9:30.
Recent priorities and achievements: running things well and responding to emerging local need during the pandemic; reviewing the current plan very thoroughly and drafting the new one based on community and partner consultation; launching Historic Boston (UK) Trumps.
The partnership meets monthly on Zoom, with sound support from the plan co-ordinator and the Local Trusted Organisation, Age UK Lincoln & South Lincolnshire. Finances are reviewed each month and headline figures displayed on the spend barometer on the website. Quarterly reports from partners were reviewed in October. All were approved. These are posted to the website and form the evidence for stories of action and change and in newsletters, the autumn edition again being delivered to every household.
Meanwhile, the partnership also completed its annual self-assessment which was submitted to Local Trust, has nearly completed the review of the current plan and has drafted the headlines of the next plan due to start in April 2021. This has been done through online conferencing and coffee mornings, surveys and questionnaires. Headlines for community comment are in the latest newsletter.
Partners continue to find creative ways of adapting their services during these difficult times. Key projects and activities have continued, including the successful completion of the Community Garden Project. There had been a number of volunteers involved including the Prince’s Trust Teams group, day nurseries and day care centres. This area of Central Park had now been completely transformed. The virtual coffee mornings have continued, sharing information and ideas. Quick-response funding remains in place and much valued by hard pressed community groups. An example is Restore Church which filled in the simple 5 Minute Funding Form to apply for COVID-19 support to help set up the Social Supermarket. Restore Pantry will be its name and Boston Big Local invested £4500 to purchase shelving and other equipment.
And to lighten people’s spirits and give a much needed means of groups raising funds, Historic Boston (UK) Trumps was launched. It has already proved very popular and sales mushroomed before Christmas, receiving very positive local press coverage.
Key priorities looking ahead
Along with continuing to run things smoothly and investing in response to local need, Boston Big Local will complete and submit its plan review in January and consult on the draft of the new plan. The next newsletter will give further detail, so that all residents in the Big Local area are informed and can comment and contribute before it is submitted toward the end of February. And on the back of the success of the card game, an even more ambitious scheme is being looked into – Boston Monopoly.
Amidst all the additional demands and difficulties caused by the pandemic, Historic Boston (UK) Trumps is a great tribute to Boston Big Local and to the commitment, energy and passion of its creators. Summing up many people’s responses are the words of Councillor Richard Austin.
“Hello Richard, [Richard Tory, chair of Boston Big Local]
May I record my hearty congratulations and grateful thanks to you and all concerned with this wonderful initiative. I am sure everyone involved in the heritage sector and the visitor economy of Boston will want to echo these words.
Boston has much to offer both residents and visitors but a lot of effort is needed to further develop and promote our heritage.
Flashes of inspiration followed by the detailed development work like this one does not come easily or come along very often.”