Exeter CVS is putting on the a free event bringing together community activists from a range of successful projects and programmes to highlight the social action projects in the city.
The event, to be held at the Innovation Centre at Exeter University on March 15 , is in partnership with the British Council as part of an international study visit to Exeter by participants from as far afield as Pakistan, Ethiopia, Kenya and Eastern Europe who have travelled to the UK to see how community projects work here and to share learning with voluntary groups in the UK.
Simon Bowkett from Exeter CVS who will be introducing the event told the PRSD: “Exeter CVS has been a local leader in training people in taking a more active part in their communities for many years.
“Our Take Part and Speaking Up courses have empowered many Exeter residents to make a difference and learn how to change things not only here in Exeter but also overseas. Last year some of our Exeter Active Citizens visited Ethiopia, and this year a group have visited Kenya. We are now delighted to welcome to Exeter delegates from all over the world who want to come and learn from practice here, and to share with us some of the challenges and successes they have found in their own communities.”
“The event on March 15 will be not only motivational, but practical too. Anyone attending will have opportunities to talk directly with activists and learn some of the skills used in developing new community initiatives.”
One project that will be showcased is the Waste Not, Want Not initiative that was started by Karen Berger, who attended the Exeter CVS Active Citizenship courses. Karen’s project aims to enable local people to recycle unwanted objects through community events.
Karen said: “I had been aware of online recycling projects like Freecycle where people could swap or donate unwanted items online, but felt there was a need for “live” events too that would benefit those without internet access and also bring communities together socially.
“This idea stayed with me for many months, but I really had no idea how to go about getting it off the ground. Every time I used Freecycle, there was a niggling feeling in my mind that I should be doing something to encourage a more level playing-field, but there seemed no way to do it, and I hadn’t done any serious research into these events at that time.
“When I enrolled in the course at ECVS called Speaking Up, I felt that I would benefit from learning with and from others, exchanging ideas, and beginning the process of understanding how change is achieved.
“Speaking Up involved thinking about our roles within society, ranging from how we interact with our neighbours, to the infrastructure that makes up our daily lives, and all the components of our ‘society’, locally and globally. These are, of course, huge topics, but I started to get a glimpse of the work involved in simply running the daily life of a community, large or small; the importance of communication and respect; and how individuals and groups of people can bring about change within their society.
“With a greater sense of confidence and purpose, I enrolled in the LEGC (Locally Engaged, Globally Connected) course, run by the ECVS, with funding from the British Council.”
“As the title suggests, the course participants were encouraged to think about social action projects that would benefit their local community. This was my chance! Knowing that change was “do-able” I started putting my plan into action.”
“The planning of this event has been as much a personal journey as an administrative one. I have had to deal with some very difficult people over the last few months, and had to bite my tongue on a number of occasions, but our group meetings not only kept me on the straight and narrow, but gave me plenty of encouragement, ideas and support.”
Participants at the showcase event on the March 15 will have an opportunity to take part in a session of Karen’s Waste Not, Want Not project.
For more information about the event, or to book a place see www.exetercvs.org.uk or call Von Mathieson on 01392 202055.