Giving our time and energy to build wellbeing together is also good for us – it helps us connect, gives us a purpose and a sense of achievement.
What excites and motivates you? Whatever it is, you can probably start there! From art classes to walking groups, vibrant communities offer a myriad of ways to connect with others, almost all of which are good for your wellbeing. That means you can choose where you want to put your effort.
Find out what’s already happening. It’s probably more than you think. Libraries, community centres and Town Councils often have noticeboards showing what’s happening locally – some even offer lists of active groups. National organisations like the Conservation Volunteers and Volunteering Matters or regional charities such as Devon Voluntary Action can also help. Or you could do an online search to see what’s happening in your area. Groups of all sorts are always looking for new members. Why not pop along, say hello and see if there are already people doing things in your community which you’d like to get involved with?
Our Wellbeing Directory and the Inspiring Projects section of our website share projects and organisations across the UK. Look through them to find an organisation you’d like to work with, explore ideas or even gain inspiration to start your own project!
The Five Ways to Wellbeing are a handy way of summarising the huge amount of research into how we can improve personal and community wellbeing. Use the Five Ways in your activities:
And you can easily extend the Five Ways to how you work with others in groups, too: Group activities like fun runs/walks, games nights, dance classes, community choirs and gardening groups incorporate all the Five Ways into handy packages and are great for our wellbeing.
Great ideas and projects can often begin with a single conversation! Chat with a neighbour or friend; in the street, in the park or at the school gate; to find out what others care about, what you have in common and would like to do to in your community together. When an idea sparks it will generate more conversations and potential actions.
Share your ideas and the ideas of those you speak with (on social media, in conversations, etc.). Share the actions that are suggested so that projects and ideas can extend beyond you and potentially create a wider impact. A saying you may find useful is: “If you’d like someone to do a big thing, ask them to do a little thing.” Bring people in, build a team, and encourage, thank and support each other at every stage.
Often the simplest activities are the most inviting. Eating, drinking, preparing and growing food can all powerfully bring people together. There are many examples from Community Potlucks and the Big Lunch, through to Incredible Edibles and community gardens.
Focusing on our strengths and building on them is great for our personal wellbeing and the same is true for our community – celebrate what you love about your community and help to strengthen it. You could start by talking with friends and neighbours about what they love and value in your community and see what ideas arise. Are there any existing events which celebrate your local community which you could join or build on? Street parties, school fetes, community picnics and even local history projects all help to bring people together and are great for wellbeing.
How well do you really know your neighbourhood? Taking time to walk the streets and parks where you live is good exercise and offers ways to meet people. You might also find places to visit and opportunities to get involved – whether on a litter pick or at a local nature reserve or museum.
We are keen to build wellbeing together. We’re happy to support your work improving wellbeing in your local community. For example, you could invite a member of the NOW team to offer a talk, a wellbeing workshop or a stall at an event in your community. Explore the many ways you can connect with our network, and please get in touch if you would like to discuss this further.