Over the years I’ve called ‘home’ quite a few places, from bustling big cities to small villages that you can barely find on a map, but now Gorse Hill feels like home in quite a new way. And if I’m writing this blog post it’s because part of the reason for this has been getting involved in community-led projects like Gorgeous Gorse Hill. So, I wanted to share my top 5 reasons for finding some time to volunteer with us:
1. GETTING OUT OF THE HOUSE AND GETTING SOME FRESH AIR
I know it sounds a bit absurd but sometimes if you’re stressed, or busy, or lonely, it helps to have a reason and an excuse to get you out and doing something different. Last year I was in the midst of writing my dissertation and overwhelmed with work, so I was spending more time sitting in front of a computer screen than is probably healthy. I found out about the weekly Action Hours that GGH organised and decided to go along during my lunch break one day a week when I was working from home – and I found that it was so nice to just disconnect and do something new (with lovely people too!) that I felt refreshed and more relaxed for it.
2. MAKING A DIFFERENCE
Okay, so this reason is probably (well, definitely) a bit of a cliche, right? “Volunteer to make a difference” sounds like a slogan we’ve all heard before. Here’s the thing though: it’s true. Whether it’s the main reason why you get involved in a project or group, or whether it’s a byproduct of getting involved, you will make a difference for the better. If you think about it, the smallest gestures make the world of a difference – a smile, lending a hand, a compliment. And what I’ve seen being part of GGH is that when people come along to an event – even if only once a year, or for half an hour at a time – it also makes the world of a difference to our neighbourhood.
3. BRIGHTENING UP OUR COMMUNITY
There’s no denying it, Chester Road is, for the most part, pretty grey and glum – but less so in Gorse Hill! Have you seen the colourful Pocket Park on the canal bridge? And the giant planters with cherry trees and wild flowers? And the shop shutters? The bushes and flowers opposite Burleigh Court? The planters on the corner of Avondale Road? The Ravernswood Rest Space mural opposite Tesco? The lavender planter and the painted toilet block near the Bishop Blaize? And all the art work on the BT boxes across Gorse Hill? I think that these projects add a wonderful splash of colour and brightness to the streets where we live. And, in turn, this brightens up people’s faces – we’ve seen people smile as the walk past some of the planters, stopping to smell the flowers when they’re in bloom, taking some vegetables home, kids pointing out some of the artwork to their parent on their way to school, and passersby stopping to thank us when we’re out doing GGH projects – which also brightens up our day!
4. FEELING PROUD OF WHERE WE LIVE
Whenever I have friends and family coming to visit and we go for a bit of a wander around Gorse Hill, I feel genuinely proud to show off all the brilliant GGH sites and the colourful projects, from the Pocket Park to the lavender planter, and of course all the artwork on the BT exchange boxes scattered around our streets. People always comment on how they make Gorse Hill quite quirky and unique – and I can say it’s nice to be a part of making it happen!
5. FEELING INVOLVED AND GETTING A SENSE OF ACCOMPLISHMENT
And speaking of being a part of it… when we’re doing any of the GGH projects and activities, from the busy summer fair to a half hour of gardening here and there, I definitely get a sense of accomplishment from helping to make our community a better place…
but don’t just take my word for it, come and find out for yourself!