Exeter Community Wellbeing - A Spirit of Sharing
Published: 19 June 2020
This week in our community blog we thought we’d give a few updates on some of the themes we’ve been writing about over the past months. For those of you who would like to reach out for support, the Exeter Community Wellbeing hotline details are at the bottom of this post.
Codrington Street Planters
There’s been a strong green-fingered vibe going around recently, hardly surprising given the time of year and the restriction of some other hobbies. We caught up with Muna Padfield to find out more about her local community planters.
Muna told us the story: “Two summers ago, an idea began after our Wellbeing Exeter Community Builder Jayne connected a neighbour, William, and I over our shared passion for plants and wildlife. We had both lived on the street for some time, William for fifteen years and myself for seven, yet it wasn’t until Jayne introduced us that we met. Over a cup of tea and biscuits we chatted about our interests.
“We talked about living in Devon, our backgrounds, heritages and our interest in wildlife. I was fascinated by listening to William’s memories of the green spaces and former trees that lined the end of our street and he seemed interested in my ideas of making more green spaces in our community. We shared an appreciation of the Exeter Wild City project. Maybe there was something we could do to support local wildlife and our community space? I think that’s how the idea germinated; Planting for Bees.
“Over the next few months we refined our ideas and were really supported by Emily Stallworthy from Devon Wildlife Trust. She helped us gather our ideas and really listened and connected with us to bring our ideas to fruition. Soon, we were applying for funding and contacting councillors and Exeter City Parks. Neither William nor I had any experience in all this, but with Jayne’s encouragement and enthusiasm we made our ideas literally come alive. The following spring after many cups of tea, research, emails, box building (William), leaflet making and lots trips to Bernaville Nurseries - it happened!
“Last year on a spring Sunday morning in the garden of the Clifton Pub, a small group of Codrington Street neighbours braved the drizzle to support the planting of bee friendly plants in window boxes. Some intrepid souls also helped do a litter pick and preparation of ground in order to scatter some wild flower seeds along the Triangle Car Park. That summer the window boxes bloomed, the bees came and slowly the wild flowers sprouted.
“This year, they have continued to grow and develop. It’s so beautiful walking past all the plants, they have bought an extra beauty to the shared space of our street. It’s amazing how people have kept their boxes, adding to them and to others. The small patch of wildflowers on the corner of Triangle Car Park add colour and beauty. Even the local pub came on board and gave us some money towards bee friendly plants for the patch of green space. Although the project has been small it has bought a lot of joy, smiles and some very happy bees.
“We want to say thank you to Jayne Lever, the Newtown and St Leonards Wellbeing Exeter Community Builder; Emily Stallworthy from Devon Wildlife Trust; Richard Branston, Newtown Councillor; Cat Chambers from Exeter City Council; Bernaville Nurseries; Clifton Pub; and Newtown Community Association.”
Art for everyone
We’ve heard several stories over the weeks of individuals and groups putting together art and craft supplies to share with neighbours while they followed Stay at Home guidelines. This effort to facilitate creativity continues. Volunteers recently put together 300 Art Packs to deliver to five schools in Heavitree, Whipton and Beacon Heath. The schools have had some great feedback from families who received them. Coordinated by Wellbeing Exeter Community Builders Amy Jones and Helen Moore, from the Mincinglake & Whipton and Heavitree wards, the Art Pack project was funded by a £1000 grant from the Exeter City Council Community Action Fund.
Helen said, “Because of social distancing we were limited to how many volunteers could safely be in the school hall to do this. Consequently the volunteers' whole morning was taken up and one stayed until 2pm! When I contacted them to thank them one said it had been ‘a pleasure and a privilege to be involved’, which was lovely! The Art Packs went to children who might appreciate these resources and hopefully they will be inspired to make, draw and do!”
Amy added that, “We hope the Art Packs gave everyone an opportunity to draw a chalk rainbow or make a picture to put in their window. We would love to hear feedback and see photos of what the children made.”
Creativity is a strong suit in Exeter. Sophie and Zoe from Art club Exeter continue to make face coverings as part of the city wide effort to provide PPE for everyone who requires it. Some of Art Club Exeter’s recent items have been sewn with Liberty print fabric, giving people the chance to show a bit of individuality in their choice of face covering. These fabric donations came from the generous St. James community. The Art Club have less sewing volunteers now that more people are going back to work, so if you can find your way around a sewing machine and would like to help, get in touch with Art Club Exeter by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Sharing food, plants, books and other items – essential or otherwise - with our communities has been a common occurance, lately. We continue to receive photos of Free Libraries, street-side pantries and pop up swap-shops from residents across Exeter. This week we have some pictures from the Duryard area of the city.
We also have photographic evidence that St. Sidwell’s Community Centre is blooming with flowers. Worth a look if you are in the area. The Community Centre would like to share that, “You can now get our bread, along with lots of other fantastic local produce from the Good Food Exeter online farmers market. Every week you can order bread, veg, dairy, meat, coffee, dried goods, mushrooms, cakes and more for collection from America Hall in Pinhoe.”
Some truly wonderful relationships have been forming across the city over this crisis period. We’re in an often changing landscape with social distancing measures and while a lot of activities are slowly picking up pace again, it’s heartening to see that the relationships and initiatives formed in the hard times are here to stay. Community activities that existed before ‘lockdown’ have adapted, even expanded and flourished. New connections and volunteer groups are committed to continuing.
A Wellbeing Exeter Community Builder in Heavitree told us about a volunteer who is now back to work full-time but continues picking up shopping for a lady he was linked with during the crisis response. Another Exeter resident hasn’t required local volunteers often as her niece arranges food deliveries, so she only receives occasional prescription drop-offs from the local wellbeing network. She said, however, that knowing volunteers are there if she calls is really important to her, “It’s wonderful that people are willing to give their time for someone they don’t know”.
Keep it up everyone! We are exceedingly proud to be part of this wonderful, forward thinking city, which you create every day just by being you.
Exeter Community Wellbeing
To request support, as an individual or a community group, get in touch with Exeter Community Wellbeing:
Phone: 01392 265000
Lines open Mon-Fri 9am-5pm
Exeter Community Wellbeing is co-ordinated by a newly formed team including Wellbeing Exeter partners led by Devon Community Foundation, Exeter Community Initiatives and Exeter City Council. Funding partners include Exeter City Council, Devon County Council and Sport England.