Bridgwater Together, an annual event celebrating the Somerset town’s vibrant cultural diversity through music, food, storytelling, dance, film and information sharing, recently took place online. Rather than cancelling or postponing the event, the organisers, supported by Somerset Diverse Communities (part of Community Council for Somerset (CCS)), found a creative way to host the event using the video conferencing platform Zoom, and audiences logged on to enjoy presentations and performances from the representatives of minority communities living in Bridgwater.
Michal Puzynski, BME Community Engagement Worker at CCS, explained how the team used existing funding from the Hinkley Point C Community Fund, a grants programme managed by Somerset Community Foundation, in a new and innovative way to ensure communities were still able to connect – even when they couldn’t be together.
“Due to the coronavirus outbreak, many concerts, festivals and other events that bring people together have been cancelled or rescheduled. However, we’re doing our best to adapt our activities to the current situation.
“The event was made possible thanks to the support of Somerset Film, Hidden Voices, Diversity Voice, Bridgwater Town Council and the unions TUC and UNITE, as well as part of a grant for £170,747, which is being awarded to CCS over three years from the HPC Community Fund, for which we are very grateful.
“We are aiming to minimise the impact of coronavirus on people’s mental health by bringing people together to reduce the feelings of isolation that many are struggling with right now. The grant has enabled us to adapt our work to the current situation so that we have been able to do that.”
Val Bishop, Programmes Director at Somerset Community Foundation added: “We are delighted that despite the difficult circumstances, organisations and projects funded by the HPC Community Fund such as Somerset Diverse Communities are able to continue to build connections in Bridgwater and beyond, through inventive and creative ways such as this.”
Jinny Uppington from CCS agreed: “It went brilliantly on Saturday night! Michal did an amazing job and managed to capture a real sense of community spirit, even online. In these current times we need to find different ways of coming together and this event really achieved that.”
Highlights from the programme of events included Alisa from Serbia, who presented a fascinating interview with her sister about what it meant to be Serbian living in the UK, and there was a wonderful film from a group of Polish children highlighting how important it is to find ways to connect even when we are separated – very pertinent in these times.
Mariusz, from Poland, discussed the importance of dreams from the comfort of his own bed, followed by a spell-binding performance on a piano of a self-composed musical piece, entitled 9 Stars.
The HPC Community Fund is part of a wider £20 million commitment of funding, provided by EDF through Section 106 agreements, for communities that are affected by the development of the new nuclear power station, to promote their social, economic and environmental wellbeing and enhance their quality of life.
If you run a local community project in Somerset and would like to find out more about grant funding from the HPC Community Fund please call Somerset Community Foundation on: 01749 344949 or visit: www.hpcfunds.co.uk
Community Foundations are local champions, connecting people and organisations that want to improve their communities. They invest in local people and organisations tackling some of the biggest issues facing communities today and supporting some of society’s most disadvantaged people. They provide help and advice to those who want to give at the heart of their communities, both now and in the long-term, by matching donors to important local causes.