Over the past four months, people from across the local community in Mansfield have been coming together to create something new for our community, organised by Maun Valley Citizens and as part of Civil Society Futures — and now it’s really turning into something.
It started with us seeing Mansfield as it is. That sounds simple but it involved us getting beyond the well-worn media narratives about the big Brexit vote here and concerns about immigration, sharing our own stories about who we are. After that we started to explore how could we make a more welcoming Mansfield?
And then last month, we all gathered again to take action on the idea we had settled on together — setting up a befriending service.
“The aim is to provide one-to-one and/or group support to individuals that have been rehoused having previously been homeless, helping them to function in their new environments… enable them to positively integrate into their communities”
How did it come together?
One of the lessons: it takes real time to create something together if you want to do it well: the proposal for a befriending service following 6 months of listening. Listening is a vital step before creating an idea and action, it needs the team to see what is happening in their communities and in particular for the areas of the community.
It came out of three groups within Maun Valley Citizens, all looking at “How we welcome people to Mansfield and how we help the lonely and the homeless communities of Mansfield.”
Each group came up with a different version of befriending (supporting people in the community through building a community of friends), and we hope that eventually befriending services will be created for all the community groups in need across Mansfield. But the first step was to win support for a particular group: individuals that have been rehoused having previously been homeless.
The event last month was a chance to get more ideas and insights to shape the befriending service as well as engaging the council in supporting the next steps. The good news is we got great input and a commitment from the council. We also got a wonderful by-product from the event… Passion for community. People saw that this is more than a befriending service — this is about community and connecting all of us together. When you get really close, when you let people in rather than walking by, there is a chance to learn, to connect to realise how similar we all are.
For more information on the Befriending Service in Mansfield, please contact Tom Hemmings (07792897767, [email protected]).