When it comes to bringing communities together, Anne Draper from the town of Tenby in South Wales is the ultimate community leader. During this challenging year, Anne has been starting projects in her locality, connecting with neighbours she had never met before, and inspiring positive change. Beginning her ChangeX journey with Poetry in the Park, Anne was able to bring her community together in a covid-safe way to share their love of the spoken word, before she went on to receive funding to start a Tenby Community Fridge as part of the #MicrosoftCommunityChallenge UK.
At the beginning of 2020, Anne was on the hunt for projects to bring her community together as part of her role as a Co-op Member Pioneer. She searched online and came across the ChangeX initiative Poetry in the Park, a poetry group that holds monthly meetings in a local park on the first Sunday of every month. Unfortunately, the oncoming pandemic and lockdown restrictions delayed the group’s first meeting, but the spirits of the South Wales group did not diminish! They waited until lockdown ended and then took action.
“‘What a good idea it was’ we thought, and we were able to meet up and do it in the parks in Tenby once restrictions allowed us. It was perfect for social distancing”.
Anne and her committed community continued meeting for their monthly poetry readings and over time an interest developed in starting a Community Fridge in Tenby. Anne’s research brought her to the #MicrosoftCommunityChallenge UK.
“I started looking into it and came across on the ChangeX website and came across grants available in South Wales. I clicked into it to see what it was available for, and there was Community Fridge!”
Anne jumped on the opportunity and immediately invited people to ChangeX to kickstart the new initiative. The team has begun training its volunteers and is in discussions to locate the fridge at the Tenby food market.
The Welsh woman was inspired to start a Community Fridge to provide food for people who are struggling and to make her community aware of food waste and how to reduce it.
“We’ve got a great little community, but nothing like a Community Fridge that will bring people together and help the environment. It doesn’t need a big amount of money or time when everyone plays their part”.
One thing that really surprised Anne when starting a Community Fridge was how many people were interested in getting involved,
“Loads of people from the town came to us immediately and told us they were looking for a project just like this. As soon as word got out of our Community Fridge, we had more than 10 people that I had never met getting in touch.”
The team now has more than 15 volunteers ready to help out and some people with learning disabilities are interested in joining. They now hope to set up a buddy system to get everyone involved.
“Everything starts with a couple of committed people trying to make difference”, is the motto that Anne says keeps her motivated to create change in her community, “Whenever I get frustrated and ask myself ‘why do I bother?’ I remember this and it keeps me going. Also when people come up to you and tell you how much they appreciate the project, then it’s all worth it”.
The Tenby Community Fridge team plans to launch their hub in the coming weeks and Anne and her team have been using ChangeX to share updates and keep connected as they get prepared. They have exciting plans to come, including linking the fridge to a new Community Garden which will supply it with fresh produce, and the creation of even further synergy by hosting the Poetry in the Park gatherings at the Community Garden!
Anne reports that the community of Tenby has become closer since working together to make their home a better place for everyone. This community project demonstrates what is possible when neighbours, family, and friends come together to create change at a local level, and we are so excited to continue following this inspiring journey.
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