To give you an idea of just what a Great Get Together is and the organisation involved, we spoke to Julie about her Get Together experience. Here, Julie tells us why you should hold a Get Together and what to expect. Inspired by Julie’s story? Sign up to The Great Get Together now >
I was so galvanised by Jo’s story that I felt I had to be involved and as there was no event locally, I knew I would have to do something myself.
I originally had grand ideas to hire our local community hall, and have an all singing all dancing event, but soon realised I was getting a bit carried away and decided to concentrate on doing something smaller in my own road.
I put up posters locally a couple of days before and an A frame board on the day at the end of the road to publicise.
Everything was free as I wanted it to have a party atmosphere rather than a money raising event.
With some friends and neighbours we set up a table in a front garden loaded with cakes and cold drinks. We had copies of old photos of our road for people to discuss, some before the war and some in the 70s designed to let the more long standing residents hold forth with their knowledge.
There was a small colouring competition for children to give them something to do and we all had sticky labels for our names.
Lots of people have told me that it was really good to have an opportunity to talk properly to people they had barely said hello to before, sometimes people just need an excuse to be friendly.
Two neighbours who only had a nodding acquaintance ended up in each other’s houses discussing home alterations, and another pair who had never met before struck up a friendship over a common interest in craft activities.
I have also come to realise the effect it has had on me personally. For the past twenty years I have had M.E which means I cannot work or have much of a social life. I can’t go out on my own because of limited mobility and sudden severe fatigue.
It may be a cliche but I have actually felt empowered by my involvement and I am proud of what we achieved. It has been a huge boost of confidence for someone who, by necessity has to have a fairly passive, un-dynamic existence.
After the success last year I am planning an event again, with the hope of reaching more people. There will still be an emphasis on cake and chatter but I’m also adding a craft element with people making paper birds to hang from a tree to give people a reason to work together.
There will be a quiz sheet on local history to encourage discussions and another larger art project to be displayed there, hopefully with input from a local school.
Thanks for sharing your story with us, Julie!
And what’s Julie’s top tip? Don’t feel you need to arrange a huge street party, a small get together can make a big impact too, and getting your neighbours together to organise it is part of the fun!