We had many special days over winter and would love to share some moments of celebration we held in the last week before a short winter break as well as some good news for 2023!
The Right To a Home
We began this week on December 17th with one of our monthly Anchor Events, where we explore the social context of wellbeing. The working group within the CWC who organises events chose to hold an event on The Right to a Home - fighting homelessness and advocating for safe beautiful homes for all! They chose this time of year because as the weather gets colder and as christmas approaches conversations consider those without homes, and because multiple people in the CWC and public who access the Wellbeing Space have experience of homelessness including Chantal (CWC member) who has a vegan caribbean catering business Queen Vital, which she started with support from Crisis following her experience of homelessness. She collaborated with Iona Taylor from Positive Action in Housing to give a talk and facilitate a public conversation about solidarity within housing struggles between migrant and native peoples.
Needless to say Chantal also made the food this day and we all enjoyed a community lunch together!
Following this Heather and Rungano (CWC members) led a creative workshop mending discarded furniture and second hand material from the streets as a way to talk about mending community and about how no person should be discarded. They also speak about making a home and the importance of beauty in all of our lives. We all love the beautiful chairs they have made for the wellbeing space, and now we have even more, made in collaboration with the public!
Following this we held an open mic on the theme of The Right to Beautiful Safe Home hosted by Jeanne van Hesswijk (CWC member) and many people shared poetry, songs and stories!
In the same week, the Community Wellbeing Collective gathered for a Christmas dinner; everyone brought a dish to share - an incredible feast! and it was a really special moment of connection. We grew our library by gifting a book to the library in our space, chosen with each individual person in the collective in mind. If you come pay us a visit now, you can browse books that represent the journeys, wellbeing offerings and passions of all 32 members!
We also had an incredible public Christmas celebration organized by CWC members with kids hanging on every word of our Santa played by Raymond (CWC member), who leads mindfulness meditations in our space. He shared wisdom and mindfulness meditations as well as a gift for every child who visited. These gifts were organised by Seona (CWC member) and over 40 children received gifts on this day! We of course also had incredible food made by Chantal (CWC member) We finished the day with the most amazing kareoke party! Hosted beautifully by Cheri (founding member of the board of trustees and Chantal’s sister) and Sindy (CWC Member). On this day we had around 120 visitors to the space!
Something very special about the Community Wellbeing Space is how people connect who may not have come together otherwise. So the CWC also have an understanding of what it means to be together across different cultures and religions. And during this week of celebrations the CWC also arranged a spiritual sharing. This was facilitated by Marta Brzosko who is part of the Salisbury Centre who we met as she attends activities in the Space. It was an incredibly powerful moment of spiritual connection and non judgmental interfaith dialogue.
We do a lot in a week! And really the festive period meant a lot and really consolidated the importance of what we do as the Community Wellbeing Collective. Winter can be a dark time for a lot of people and especially this year, especially working class people and especially those who are within the demographics of people who are in CWC and access the Wellbeing Space. For a lot of people, celebrating together was a very significant part of the festive season.
We can't speak about the difficulties we face this winter without of course speaking about the cost of living crisis. Something we explore in the Wellbeing Space in day-to-day conversations with public as well as in dedicated Wellbeing Discussions which Maryanne (CWC member) holds in the space every Saturday, and in a day long anchor event on the subject back in October. The reality of the cost of living crisis is being felt very deeply in the area. Late last year, in Living Well Wester Hailes, a forum of community organisations, individuals and groups were speaking about how there is nowhere in Wester Hailes open on a Sunday that you can be for free, stay warm and connect. In this meeting individuals and organizations expressed that they would love for the Community Wellbeing Space to be open as a warm hub on Sundays.
Always listening, dedicated and energetic, when we reopened in 2023 after a short winter break, we added an extra day to our opening times and are now open on Sundays as a warm space, serving hot soup!
We began this on a voluntary basis and with short opening hours as the need was very immediate, which is shown also in the success of these days! Our first day open, with just a few days notice, we had 25 people for a sit down community meal, soup cooked by Eunice (CWC member) with vegetables donated by the local Lidl. Since then, Sundays have only grown in numbers and warmth of connections. There is a lot of good will from the community with organisations including Wester Hailes Community Trust, Wester Hailes Growing Communities, WHALE Arts and Prospect Housing contributing towards our being open on this day with Full Hearts, Empty Kitchens donating soup! We would like to say a huge thank all to these organisations!
It is incredibly important that we do continue being open on a Sunday, we are still facing cold weather, increasing food poverty and the dangers of isolation over winter. If you or an organisation you are part of could contribute to our continued opening please get in touch via email@example.com
As a good friend of CWC and amazing local organiser Jim Slaven puts it; Solidarity not Charity!
Heres to 2023!
We started the year with a bang! Adding an extra day to our opening times and developing more activities to add our new programme which you can see on our home page. We hope to see you soon in 2023!