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Author Libby Turner
Communications and PR Intern at Spirit of 2012
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Power of Community: The Great Get Together 2020

The 2020 instalment of the Great Get Together looked a little different to previous years. However, under exceptional circumstances we saw communities across the UK embark on inspiring and innovative ways to create connections and celebrate this year’s theme: Power of Community.

Led by the Jo Cox Foundation, the Great Get Together began in 2017 the year after the murder of Jo Cox. Each year over the weekend of Jo’s birthday, thousands of people across the UK get together take part in community events, interfaith services, and street parties.

This year, the Covid-19 crisis and government restrictions posed challenges to the Great Get Together. But rather than postponing until we can all physically be together, the campaign team – along with a committed base of community organisers – came together to brainstorm innovative ways of creating meaningful connections from a safe distance.

The weekend’s activity saw plant swaps, virtual tours of local mosques, school assemblies on Zoom and outdoor exhibitions. Here at Spirit, we love when our grantees join forces, and were delighted to see some fantastic Great Get Together’s held by our grantees to celebrate the #PowerOfCommunity in their local areas. Here’s a round-up of this year’s celebrations…

Breaking Boundaries held virtual Tea20 events in all of their 5 cities: Birmingham, Bradford, Manchester, Slough and London, across the weekend. The events included virtual community quizzes, talks on important topics and collecting donations for local food banks.

The Sporting Memories Foundation held the biggest Sporting Memories gathering yet, bringing clubs from England, Wales and Scotland together to celebrate the #PowerOfCommunity by talking about sport, laughing and singing. They began by raising their coffee cups to Jo Cox and ended by singing Auld Lang Syne, holding hands across the screens (see photo below!). One participant, Alan from Manchester said ‘can we do this every week?’

Jack Drum Arts ran two Great Get Together online games events in County Durham, bringing local young people together who had been separated from their friends for months, providing a safe online space for them to reconnect through sci-fi themed storytelling, laughter, competitiveness and fancy dress!  Activity packs were delivered to their doorsteps, providing a day of crafts after which everyone logged on to share laughs and a night of games. Hosted by young leaders, the events were delivered as part of their #GoViral initiative to support communities through Covid-19.

 

 

GOGA (Get Out Get Active) Nottingham celebrated this year's Great Get Together with a 190 mile relay in memory of Jo Cox, wellbeing calls and doostep chats, letters from children to isolated people within their communities, and virtual walks to promote walking within local communities. 

Verbal Arts Centre in Derry collaborated with WellRead to host a series of Digital Reading Rooms sessions. Readers could sign-up to sessions through the WellRead website, listen to stories and chat to one another, celebrating the Power of Community through storytelling.

So, whilst we could not physically be together, this year’s Great Get Together saw connections made across local communities and further afield. The Power of Community is more important now than ever and shaped this year’s campaign. We're looking forward to a time when we can reconnect and continue developing the community spirit that this year's Great Get Together harnessed from start to finish.

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