Are you thinking of holding a Great Get Together, but need a bit of inspiration? Here are some hints, tips and advice from other organisers to help you in your planning.
More hands make light work
Last year, Disley Quakers ran a Great Walk Together to express solidarity for refugees and bring their community together. They tell us about how by working together, a really powerful event can be created.
“Organising the walk was simple. A local family organised the walk, other volunteers baked cakes for post-walk social tea and cake in Lime Park and a further volunteer arranged for it to be advertised.
Overall it was a hugely successful event and incredibly simple to organise - just a few hours work for a small team of volunteers. The group found it a really simple and effective way to bring the community together - all while supporting an excellent cause and building awareness about the need to support refugees.”
Small is beautiful
We’ve learnt a lot over the past few years about how events don’t have to be big to be impactful. At the Howell Road Allotments in Wolverhampton last year, Beverley brought together her community to celebrate their love of nature and the outdoors.
“The Great Get Together is about bringing communities together, and celebrating what we have in common. Every year we do something to honour Jo Cox and raise money for the Foundation and because of Covid restrictions, it had to be outside. There could only be 30 guests so it made sense for it to be held at Howell Road Allotments because that place celebrates what we have in common. The allotment holders are all from different backgrounds and walks of life and they come together because of their love for fruit and vegetables.”
What about your workplace?
This year, Menzies Distribution are running coffee mornings in their branches and hubs to bring colleagues together. Many of us haven’t been able to see the people we work with as often as we used to, and the Great Get Together is a brilliant way of bringing everyone together - to renew old friendships and make new connections.
Kindness by post
Last year, Moorland Primary School in Cardiff worked on a project called Poetry Post, where they wrote poems about kindness and delivered them to houses in the local area. Post is a really powerful tool for connection. For your Great Get Together, you could drop postcards or notes to your neighbours or people in the local area. It’s simple, cheap, and guaranteed to make people smile!
We hope this has given you plenty of inspiration to get started. And don’t worry - it’s not too late to plan something. Great Get Togethers come in all shapes and sizes. What matters the most is that you’re helping people celebrate that we have more in common than that which divides us.
Located on the edge of the Peak District, the village of Disley has run a Great Get Together for the past few years, using it as a chance to bring their community together and celebrate the things they had in common.
In 2021, however, Covid restrictions meant that they couldn’t organise their traditional community Get Together and had to think creatively!
Inspired by the partnership between Refugee Week and the Great Get Together, Disley Quakers decided to run a Great Walk Together. They were already supporters of the Sanctuary Everywhere movement and the Great Walk Together offered a fantastic way to both express this support and to bring the community together.
Making it happen was simple; a local family organised the walk, other volunteers baked cakes for a post-walk social tea and cake in Lime Park, and a further volunteer arranged for it to be advertised. They decided to arrange two routes, one 4 mile walk and an accessible alternative, and they walked both routes in advance to make sure they were suitable.
The group also focused on advertising the event to attract as many participants as possible. As well as posting on social media, they created a poster which they shared around East Cheshire and placed an advertisement in the local newspaper.
The day of the walk was beautiful and the group had a good turnout with over 30 walkers, including a number of families and dogs! Many of the attendees were new to the area so it was a fantastic chance to meet and welcome new people and to build community connections. The very act of walking helped to stimulate conversation as they were guided through the beautiful landscape.
Overall it was a hugely successful event and incredibly simple to organise - just a few hours work for a small team of volunteers. Everyone got to know each other, all while supporting an excellent cause and building awareness about the need to support refugees.
Nestled in the Snowdonia Mountains, Harlech has always been known for its strong, tightly knit and supportive community. The town’s voluntary groups play a vital role in the success of this community, running a wide range of activities to enrich the lives of children and adults.
The pandemic disrupted this community, as it did communities around the world. When Covid restrictions were lifted in the summer of 2021, the Community Council decided it wanted to bring people together again for the first time in well over a year. Inspired by the Great Get Together they decided to hold a family fun day which all parts of the community could participate in.
On 27 June 2021, they hosted the Harlech Party in the Park. This was supported by local charities, community groups, businesses and volunteers who offered their support for free to put on a fantastic day. Among the various activities on offer were:
- Celebrations of local culture through music recitals, as well as songs, stories and poems read by school children in Welsh.
- Activities for children including face painting, balloon modelling, wood carvings, air cadets marching and an owl display.
- Support from institutions like Natural Resources Wales, Snowdonia National Park and Network Rail who described the work they were doing, organised a programe of mindfulness and meditation in the dunes, spoke on ancient local buildings and educated people on the dangers of level crossings.
- Local community groups including the Scouts, local schools, Air Cadets, the WI, Silver Band, Rugby club and the Old Library running stalls and activities to raise funds.
- Food and drink provided by volunteers from Harlech memorial hall.
Given that Harlech only has a population of 1500 this was a huge community effort and brought together every part of the town. The event was entirely run on good will but had a huge impact in uniting people in-person for the first time in a year. It was truly a Great Get Together!
Since the first Great Get Together in 2017, Laura Henderson has run an annual event in Llantwit Major, near Cardiff, to celebrate Jo Cox’s #MoreInCommon message.
Each year the event grew and Laura realised the importance of bringing the community together and, in particular, of reaching out to those who are lonely or isolated. She, along with a small team, decided they wanted to do more than a yearly event and so they became a More in Common group, organising all year round to bring people together. One of the key initiatives they launched was the Chatty Café.
Initially, this was a monthly event where people met up in community centres to chat and have a cup of tea together. It was deliberately aimed at those who were lonely or isolated - offering a regular, welcoming place for them to come and meet people. It quickly proved a vital place for people who were at risk of loneliness to meet, talk and make friends.
The importance of these events was highlighted during the pandemic, when many members of the community became isolated due to restrictions. The More in Common group recognised the issue and responded; they moved the Chatty Cafe to twice a month, organised a book club and arranged online events to bring people together.
For the 2020 Great Get Together the group ran small meetings across the town, allowing people the chance to get together with neighbours for a cup of tea in a safe setting. In 2021, with the lifting of some restrictions in Wales, they were able to run a more extensive Great Get Together. This included a Chatty Cafe and plant swap, with local musicians coming along to play. In addition to this they ran their first Great Walk Together - a walk around the town with readings and information to add additional interest for attendees.
For 2022 the group is planning an even larger event, including another Great Walk Together, a Chatty Cafe, plant swap and celebration of the local clothes bank.
“The key thing I learned was how loneliness impacts on young people. The statistics are shocking!” - feedback from a Great Winter Get Together participant.
[Press Release] After two years of uncertainty and social isolation, new research from the Jo Cox Foundation (conducted by ICM Unlimited) shows the vast majority of Brits (77%) still think there is a stigma around talking about loneliness, rising to a worrying 91% among young people.
A Webinar by the Jo Cox Foundation and the Royal British Legion
Let's Face Loneliness Together This Christmas
The Grateful Winter Get Together: Who Are Our Local Heroes?
This June, we saw communities around the UK come together for the Great Get Together. With social distancing restrictions in place, many of these interactions took place online. Inspired by the inventive ways that people found to connect virtually, we partnered with Facebook to launch the Great Get Together Facebook Community Grants Scheme.