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50 Great Ideas

If you want to bring people together and improve your neighbourhood, here are a few ideas to inspire you!


WALKING GROUP Walking groups are the easiest ways to bring people together. They don’t require much organising or even that many people to be successful. Start with short ones then add longer ones if there is interest. Communicate clearly the length, duration and ground conditions. Tell folks to confirm their attendance by text about an hour before setting off, so you know who is actually coming.


BOARD GAMES CAFE This could happen anywhere, as long as several people bring some board games to share. If you can, make sure there are old and new games for a variety of ages. Invite some people to ‘host’ their favourite game; explaining the rules and including people who are not sure where to start. Ask around for donations if you want to create a stock.


LITTER PICK Litter-picks are like walks but more fun! Everyone likes to feel useful, and it’s an easy task to do together without much organising. Fresh air and the feeling of achieving something together makes connections even stronger. You can ask the council for grabbers, litter seems to organise itself.


PLAY_STREET Close your road for a few hours, bring out toys and games, hop-scotch and skipping, jumpers for goal posts, you know the sort of thing. It’s not just for kids, older folks love to sit out and watch them play. We can help get permission from your Council.


GARDEN TRAIL You don’t have to have a fancy garden or impressive plants to be part of a Garden Trail. It’s not about showing off but being welcoming. As long as the hosts of each garden have a few chairs ready and some lemonade. Maybe some garden games? You’ll need a map of the trail, get the kids to draw one. Could be combined with Front Yard Sale.


NEIGHBOURHOOD PICNIC A picnic is pretty easy to organise as each family or individual brings their own things; blankets, food and drink. No need for a big committee, lots of planning or great expectations. Just a nice time with as few or as many people as turn up. You might want to bring out some chairs for older members. Maybe a radio and some games too.


TEA & MEMORIES This is a small event in which the older members of your neighbourhood share their memories. Invite them to bring along photo albums and keepsakes. Get some books from the library on local history or find clips of historical events on Youtube. Anything to start conversation, maps are good too. Make a note of any great stories that emerge, they could be the start of History Project.


BATCH COOK FOR NEW PARENTS You’ll need a kitchen with big pans, and some Tupperware or resuable takeaway containers. Everyone brings ingredients to share for a recipe that’s been agreed in advance. Some cook, some mind the kids. Everyone goes home with several meals to freeze and in doing so, everyone has bought themselves a little extra time at home.


OPEN TABLE This might also be called a ‘pot-luck dinner,’ a ‘bring and share meal’ or a ‘fuddle’. Essentially invitees are asked to bring something to eat from home to create a buffet full of surprises. It’s not about showing off culinary skills, but sharing whatever you have.


REPAIR CAFE Those with specialist skills in repairing mechanical and electrical items host a café. Anyone can bring in a household item that requires a new fuse or a bit of oil. The more skilled people and the more items the better. This is an event that requires some setting up, but there are many examples to learn from. Could be combined with Tool Bank, Skill Swap Event, Make and Mend.

These ideas are not set in stone, you are encouraged to take and adapt them with others, to make special moments that are unique to your neighbourhood.

50 Great Ideas


PLACES TO SIT An age-friendly neighbourhood should have plenty of places to sit; to rest your feet on a walk around the block, to watch the world go by, enjoy the sun or the shade, and share a smile with a stranger. For many older residents, walking to the end of the street is more than far enough. Maybe there should be a bench on every corner? You could fundraise for new benches, or better yet get the locals together to use their tools to build some benches using reclaimed timber. And why not teach the teenagers some skills at the same time?


FRUIT HARVEST Not everyone can manage to use all the fruit produced by forgotten trees at the end of their garden. And some neighbourhoods have fruit trees on unclaimed scraps of land. A neighbourhood group is just the thing needed to harvest them and share the produce. Make sure you’ve got some people who can climb trees (safely!), and some who know how to make jam and chutney. If there is good fruit left over, give it to the local nursery or play group. Combine with Chutney Cook Up.


SKILL SWAP EVENT This could be a great event that kicks off several other activities. You just need to get lots of your neighbours in a room and ask them what their skills, passions or interests are. They write them in big letters on post-it notes which get stuck up on the wall. During a break you organise the notes into groups, and everyone has a chance to view them and add more as they get inspired by all the ideas. Those groups of notes are the starting point for introducing people and seeing if new groups or projects could start from shared interests, using the varied skills people have.


TOOL SHARE Many of us have more tools than we need, but never quite the right one for the job in hand. Tool Share schemes bring down to cost of gardening and DIY. You might want to ask for a membership fee or a deposit. Invite those local tinkerers to help maintain and repair the tools. Combine with Repair Café.


SEEDS & PLANT SWAP Get together and swap seeds or cuttings. Trade tips and advice too. Everyone gets to grow their plant collection and bring more beauty into their homes and gardens. Could combine with Garden Trail.


LEAF BANK Not everyone is a keen gardener, but most people produce green waste such as grass cuttings, fallen leaves, and vegetable waste. Why not share it amongst the growers on your street? Set up a common compost heap, either as part of a community garden or on a scrap of land that no-one owns. Combine with Community Allotment and Community Garden.


SING -A-LONG These days you don’t need an old Joanna or a Karaoke machine to hold a rousing sing-along session. You just need to search on Youtube to find classics from all eras. A big screen can help with reading the lyrics, or you can provide printed sheets.


Attend a ‘How to Start a Project’ Workshop As part of the Feeling Connected Project we will be providing learning workshops and support for anyone wanting to bring people together in their neighbourhood. If you’ve got a vision for an ambitious project, or just curious about how to take the first steps, we’ll be with you all the way. Come to our ‘How to start a project’ Workshop, in a venue near you, with others who share your passion.


SCARECROW COMPETITION Crows might not be a nuisance in your neighbourhood, but making Scarecrows from broomsticks, sticky tape and the dressing-up box is a lot of fun. Seeing them stand in every front garden on a street is also something special. You could make them all on the same day or let them pop up individually. Let the kids form a committee to crown the winner: King or Queen of the Scarecrows!


LANTERN PARADE A short parade of hand-made lanterns, glowing in the half-light, just around the block or in a local park, is a great way to celebrate the change from winter to spring. It can be an explosion of colour and creativity that involves everyone. It’s quite an ambitious project - you don’t need ‘real artists’ but you will need lantern-making packs that include willow, tissue paper, pva glue and masking tape. And bike-lights. A theme is good too.

50 Great Ideas

These ideas come from many sources,  Some came straight from our own heads, but mostly we are indebted to the imaginations of others. They know who they are, and we thank them!


TRADE YOUR TRADE This is about trading or exchanging your trade or specialist skill with others. Plumbing for babysitting for example. Anything can be swapped, the only rule is that no money changes hands. Set up a noticeboard, a facebook group, a simple website or a Skill Swap Event. Ask people to offer something or request something. This is an old idea and has been developed in different ways across the world, but keep it simple and let it grow organically.


MAKE & MEND Many of us don’t have the skills or the time to mend things, we end up throwing so much away. On the other hand, the older members of our neighbourhoods often have plenty of those practical skills of making and mending that seem to be dying out. This is a variation on the classic ‘knit and natter’, with more purpose. Encourage people to bring clothes and items that need some TLC.


PANCAKE CAFE The idea of starting a community café is appealing but can become overwhelming in light of all the details. A Pancake Café keeps things simple; just sweet and savoury toppings, tea and coffee, and an ‘endless’ supply of hot pancakes. What’s not to like? You don’t need a well equipped kitchen, just a hob or two and a couple of frying pans.


CHUTNEY COOK UP If you can find a community kitchen with large pans, invite anyone with spare fruit that would otherwise be wasted. And lots of jam jars. Everyone gets involved chopping the fruit. While the chutney cooks there’s time for a cuppa. Then the jars are filled and everyone takes something home. You can smell it already!


FRONT YARD SALE Like many of these ideas, it takes a few people to do a lot of leg work, speaking to neighbours, explaining an idea and getting agreement. But it shouldn’t require long meetings to coordinate a Front Yard Sale. Everyone has stuff to get rid of, and it’s really about creating opportunities to stop and chat in the street. Combine with Garden Trail, Scarecrow Exhibition or even Sunflower Explosion.


HISTORY WALK This version of a history walk doesn’t rely on a historian or an expert in the local area. It involves local people who share their own stories of the place. Young and old, memories of people and events that touched our lives. Some of the walkers need to be curious, always asking ‘tell me more about…’ Some of the walkers need to talk. A map, a route and a bit of research might be useful. Could be an easy spin-off of Walking Groups.


TECH-BUDDIES Those who struggle to keep up with technological advances are getting left further and further behind. It’s not about missing Netflix, but vital services. The remedy is often not a tech-whiz, but someone with a lot of patience. And possibly an appreciation for how everyday technology can benefit someone older. Could be paired with Make and Mend, Repair Café.


SUNFLOWER EXPLOSION Is there another flower that can lifts our hearts as much as a Sunflower? Imagine streets lined with them as they grow from pots, boxes and even wellies in every front yard. And in the scraps of grass that no-one owns and the Council forgets to cut. You could club together to buy seeds in bulk. You don’t have to have a competition with prizes for the tallest and broadest, but why wouldn’t you?


PHONE PHOTOGRAPHY The joy of photography is focusing on what’s in front of you, being in the moment, experiencing your surroundings afresh, recording the ephemeral. It doesn’t need to be about lenses and exposure times. Smart phones give us all the chance to be photographers. Forming a small group is a great way to get out and about, take notice of what’s around us, and share our passion for the world we live in.


NEW DADS & GRANDADS This is an event in which new dads get together and invite the elderly gents in the neighbourhood to join them in the playground. To talk about childhood, the challenges of being a dad, join in with games or just to enjoy watching the kids play. It’s about bridging generational divides and creating more places to welcome older men who are at greater risk of loneliness. May include sandwiches and pies.

50 Great Ideas


INSTANT PING PONG Buy some bats and balls at the Pound Shop. On a nice day, put a couple of tables together outside, with some books along the edge where they join to act as the ‘net’. Challenge your neighbours to a tournament. (Ping pong is proven to be great for older people; stimulating the brain and creating movement without too much strain). Combine with Neighbourhood Picnic.


Attend a ‘How to Design a Poster’ Workshop To start any sort of neighbourhood project or group, you’ll have to advertise it. Designing an attractive, legible poster or flyer isn’t difficult but requires a few tricks, and they can be learnt. We’ll be hosting workshops to up-skill anyone who wants to bring people together as part of the Feeling Connected Network.


WALKING SCHOOL BUS A walking bus is just like a normal school bus. There’s a route, and Children join as it passes on the way to school. It can be informal with accompanying parents, or more formal run by volunteers together with the school. Why not invite older members of the community to join in, giving them a role and a cheerful way to get up and to be active each morning.


HAVE YOUR CAKE & EAT IT Ask neighbours to bake their favourite sweet or savoury treat and hold your very own Bake Off competition. When the judging is over, encourage everyone to come along to see who won, sample the bakes, and enjoy a cup of tea and a natter too.


WALKING TREASURE HUNT Take your history walk one step further and devise your own treasure hunt in the place you live. A short walking route and some simple (or fiendish!) clues will encourage your community to get to know a little more about the people and places of the past that go unnoticed every day. If you like, make it a competition and have prizes for the winners.


SOCIAL MEDIA SURGERY Getting into social media can seem like a minefield but can also help people stay connected. A social media surgery is run by volunteers who support online novices to become masters, explaining the pitfalls and potential. You’ll need a venue with wifi naturally. Pair with Tech-Buddies.


COMMUNITY GARDEN The best community gardens feel like your Nan’s front room, and they don’t have to be much bigger. It’s great if they can be seen from the street, to make it easy for passers-by to stop and chat. Places to sit or perch will encourage conversation too. As well as organised volunteer roles, a list of small jobs that need doing encourages everyone who wants to be useful to join in too.


COMMUNITY ALLOTMENT Growing food together, sharing the work and the produce, understanding where our food comes from and nurturing it ourselves are great aspects of a community allotment. It’s a big job of course, so include as many people as possible, with a range of roles and tasks that allow people to get involved easily and contribute whatever they can.


OPEN ORCHARD It’s an orchard that anyone can access, planted on a piece of disused land or in the corner of a local park. A group could be formed to do. It’s a long-term project that only needs a small group to do the preparation work: getting permission, choosing varieties, then planting and caring for the trees. But the whole neighbourhood will benefit in years to come.


CRAFT-A-LOT CLUB Card making and seasonal craft groups are easy ways to bring people with busy fingers together. Some people are already crafty and appreciate an opportunity to be social, others may want to be given a project and guided step-by-step. The best groups include everyone and draw on talents and passions to make every session rich and inspiring.

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50 Great Ideas


RECIPE SWAP Take it in turns to host an informal cookery class. Share your favourite recipe with others and have a go at cooking it together – the best part is eating it together afterwards.


PUT YOUR BEST PAW FORWARDS Owning a dog comes with many perks: unconditional love, health benefits and a sense of security, to name just a few. A furry friend is great for human companionship, too. Why not ask fellow dog-lovers, or folks who can no longer keep a dog at home, to join you on your dog walks?


WORDS & VOICES This is a reading group with a difference. Each time people bring along a favourite text to share with the group by reading aloud. It could be a poem, lyrics to a song, a short story or a few paragraphs from a book. They don’t have to be self-penned. Most importantly there is something special about listening to a voice reading for us. And a chance to explain why something resonates or touches us.


JUGGLE & GIGGLE This might be more accurately called ‘dropping things then picking them up while laughing group’. It’s not so much about perfecting your juggling skills as being ‘in the moment’ and laughing together at our failures. You don’t even need a teacher, just find some tips on YouTube.


WALK & STRETCH This is an idea for those folks that want to gradually increase their exercise, but aren’t ready for a full workout class. It’s a walking group that stops regularly to do some guided stretches. Each person chooses how far to take the stretches.


SOUPER SATURDAY Rather than throwing away unused or leftover veg at the end of the week, why not club together to have a cook-up and transform your wilting greens into soup for everyone to sit down and enjoy together, or take away to eat later.


SECRET SKETCHBOOK This is not a group for artists! It’s a group for people who want to be inspired by the world around them, to collect objects, impressions, thoughts, shapes, memories, colours and ideas. It’s not about showing off your sketching skills but keeping your sketchbook secret. Everyone is free to scribble or scrawl without the pressure to display the pages, but rather share the moment, wandering through the city, town or countryside together and maybe being moved.


48. OVER TO YOU…. Put your own idea here, maybe take one of ours and adapt it.


SHARE IDEAS If you are inspired by these ideas, share with your friends and neighbours online, or find a copy of our newspaper and pass it on to someone else.


JOIN US! Feeling Connected Fortnight is our opportunity to celebrate neighbourhood initiatives across Chesterfield and NE Derbyshire. We’ll be hosting events, shouting about and sharing the wonderful ways people are coming together in the last two weeks of October 2022. Visit us in person at The Hub @ Low Pavement, our venue in Chesterfield. Share what’s happening in near you on social media. And if you are inspired by these ideas, why not organise an activity in your neighbourhood during the Fortnight? No matter how small or large, connecting together in celebration of neighbourliness is something to shout about – and we’re here to offer encouragement and support every step of the way.

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