Recipes for Success: Barton Hill Street Party
Local resident, Julie Baly, tells us about organising street parties in Barton Hill and how you can create a street party of your own for when lockdown is over.
“It was exciting when there was another royal wedding announced in 2018, as it was a good excuse for a street party. We did it independently: we knocked on our neighbours' doors and found that people were interested - and then I asked for support from Sarah at the Network. Sarah helped me by printing invitations and advising on getting the street closed.
At this first party lots of our neighbours were keen to have another party where we shared lunch together. This took a long time to organise as I had another baby in the meantime - so we organised the second party for the following year. This time Carla from the Network helped me one morning with door knocking and printing out leaflets to let everyone know what was happening. We didn’t ask for loads and loads of help. I think it was important for us that we were able to take the lead on it. A lot of people came out - far more than I had dreamed! And that was the measure of success for us - it wasn’t a measure put in place by someone else.
The street party made a difference. Now, when you walk through the neighbourhood, you know the names of the people around in the street - and if you ever need something urgently you know which doors you can knock on, because you’ve met the people behind them. You feel a bit more connected to your community, even when the party is over."
Julie’s recommended recipe for a successful street party:
- Confidence: I think you don’t have to try too hard. We just asked people to “bring something to share”. And it was doable. Everyone brought something. Remember: you don’t have to organise everything. It’s going to be just perfect.
- Enjoyment: Enjoy the process! When we were door knocking, one of my neighbours invited me in for a cup of tea. To be invited in, and see our children playing together, was very meaningful to me.
- Contact The Network: It’s good get in touch with The Network so you have some back up. It’s not about them doing it for you. It’s about them giving some help if you need it.
- Let people know it’s happening! Door knocking can be very useful.
- Enjoy the moment with others: all the children playing and running around and lots of different conversations happening between people. It’s really lovely!
Play and Stay at Barton House
In January 2019 two residents of Barton House, Shukri and Amal, met with The Network to discuss their idea of developing a local children’s activity group. They had identified that there were many after school clubs for children within the Somali community, but they were all based around enhancing their education. Their dream was to bring the community together, build relationships and create a weekend opportunity for creative activities to enhance children’s emotional development through play and art.
Working alongside The Network they created an action plan to develop a Play and Stay activity, identifying that they needed both a venue and someone with arts and crafts experience to deliver creative activities with the children. After some joint exploration of local venues, the Network connected them with the BCC Housing Team and the residents managed to secure Barton House community room every other Saturday morning free of charge.
The next challenge to overcome was getting someone to facilitate the creative activities as they had no money to pay someone. At the same time the Network had received several requests from other residents looking for creative art input into their activities, so we decided to approach In Bristol Studios and ask them to hold Creative Skills Training for residents to help them build their own arts skills. Shukri and Amal both attended the three-week training course whilst Shukri also attended the Network’s ‘Grow Your Group’ training, and together giving them both the skills and confidence to run the creative activities with the children themselves.
To allow them to get some initial resources from Scrap Store and refreshments the Network provided them with a small amount of money, however they are now running weekly sessions and charging 50p per family per week in order to make resourcing the activity sustainable. Four months on and the sessions are popular, with a regular turnout of up to 20 parents and children learning and being creative together.
By supporting the residents to develop their own skills instead of paying for a tutor, we have helped them become more sustainable in the long term. The residents will also be able to use their skills in other local contexts going forwards, having a knock-on effect on the wider community.