REPORT on Bere Alston Community Wellbeing event, 17 May 2022

  • “It was good to see so many and varied local groups coming together and local people attending”
  • “We got a good number of people attending and asking questions”
  • “It’s enabled me to connect with a lot of local people, as well as with stuff that’s provided for them”

Our Aims:

  • To give people the chance to find out more about their local community groups and services
  • To share information about where to go for advice
  • To inspire people to take up new opportunities and make new friends
  • To give people the chance to talk to local council representatives
  • To provide networking opportunities to local organisations and services

The event was held in the Bere Alston Parish Hall with Covid and generic risk assessments in place. It is our twelfth event since January 2018 and was the sixth community event we have organised as easing of Covid restrictions has allowed.

1. Changes to our approach

As there are no mandatory rules under current Covid regulations, we asked people to exercise responsible choices. We also assessed the safety of the space. The main entrance door to the building was kept open to ensure a flow of air through the space, as were the windows to the main hall. Stalls and displays were in the main hall which had very high ceilings to help ventilate the space, with a minimum of a 1m distance between stallholders. Refreshments were provided in disposable/recyclable cups and snacks were individually wrapped. We ensured all tables were cleaned appropriately before and after use.

  • Covid risk assessment on venue/event
  • Hand gel throughout; face masks made available
  • Revised refreshment provision

2. Summary figures

80 people were involved in the event including those on 21 stalls representing 25 organisations, with 33 members of the public visiting.

3. Bere Alston

Bere Alston a village of c. 2000 people, in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty on the Bere peninsula.  Historically it is an area connected to mining and also market gardening; it is isolated by being encircled within the rivers Tamar and Tavy. There is one main road serving the villages of Bere Ferrers and Bere Alston. It has a community pharmacy, doctor’s surgery, primary school, a couple of small supermarkets; a post office containing local bakery goods, a butcher and a number of other shops and services. Other facilities are the parish hall used for local groups; plus the parish church and united churches group which also runs the Hope Cottage Community Centre in the village centre, housing the foodbank. There are limited public transport services consisting of a bus to Tavistock and a train to Plymouth. There is a higher percentage than average of older and retired people in the community, and also a significant problem with economic deprivation.

People raised concerns about poor parking and a lack of public transport. There was an acknowledgement that there were limited facilities for older children, with nothing available to them post-scout or brownie age unless families travelled to Plymouth.

Some people noted how isolated older people have become through Covid. This is continuing as people have lost their social confidence. Despite this, people were very enthusiastic about the community and shops in the village.

Text Box: “It’s just the best village ever. Everyone’s friendly; if you go into the shops and ask for anything somebody will help you”
One of the primary school children commented:
“I like the amount of people that there are. There’s always someone that you know and that you can talk to and have fun with”
People were also very appreciative of the beauty of the area and valued their access to it.

3.  How well did it work: Stallholder evaluation

This highlighted a number of positives from the event. Comments included:

“Liaised with Foodbank and Navigate. Council, GP surgery and family support practitioners took information and referral forms”

”Having the opportunity to discuss what way we can work together has helped”

“Great to meet face to face- makes building relationships between organisations so much easier” 

“Being able to touch base face to face with a wide variety of people to discuss what TEC do worked very well for us”

“I was able to find speakers for my group and a potentially useful resource by talking to other services”

“Good for networking as many stallholders stopped by our table for a chat, or we visited theirs. Really helpful to have the information about the stallholders printed off and given to us at the event and also available by email afterwards”

“It was definitely an excellent opportunity for the children to showcase their work and discuss it with some members of the public”

We asked stallholders for their evaluation on the value of the event. Of the responses we received:

  • 86% felt they had expanded on their knowledge of other services available
  • 86% felt encouraged to engage with other services as a result
  • 75% felt they had useful exchanges with members of the public. (One of the responses saying that they had little chance to exchange with other people was the school, who were understandably tied up with supervising the children they had brought along.)

4. How well did it work: Public evaluation

People were very enthusiastic about Bere Alston being a friendly place with a huge sense of community. This was reflected by our feedback at the event.

“I work in the Post Office so I share information with people anyway!”

“I’m going to walk away from here with several leaflets I’m going to be able to promote”

“Without events like these people stay in their little bubbles. Connectivity between people is very important”

5.  Participants

WisermoneyWDCVS
TASSBere Ferrers Women’s Institute
Tavistock Memory CaféPlymouth and West Devon Talking Newspaper
Bere Alston TrekkersBeery Crafters
One Small StepTavistock Area Wellbeing
Devon CarersTamar Valley AONB/Tamara Landscape Partnership Scheme  
Bere Alston Primary SchoolTamar and Tavy Gig Rowing Club
Action for Children West DevonLivewest
Tamar Energy CommunityLearn Devon
Home InsteadCounsellors South West CIC
Devon and Cornwall PoliceBeregen
Bere Peninsula PharmacyBere Peninsula Churches
Bere Alston Gardening Club

6.  Learning
We felt that we offered a range of stalls for people to peruse, which was a view supported by the public and stallholders alike. Stallholders did valuable networking. People who attended engaged with stallholders, and information was taken away to share with others. The weather was atrocious, and the torrential rain undoubtably deterred people from attending to some extent, but as such, our aims were met.
However, there was also a sense that some people just wanted to come along to meet others in a community space. More than one person commented on how they valued being able to just meet with other people at our event. The effects of Covid, and the concern people felt at being in a public environment were evident. Some people spoke eloquently of how overwhelmed they had been by the pandemic, and how they needed to connect with people. ‘Connectivity’ came up a number of times, but in relation to people, not digital networks. One member of the public made the comment that people needed to learn how to be in a social setting again, and how vital it was that events like ours were put on to encourage them. That people didn’t feel ‘forgotten’.
The level of community support in Bere Alston was well noted, and this was reflected by 20% of our stalls being taken by local village interest groups, with a further 16% by local Bere Peninsula organisations. It was also noticeable that a number of members of the public already knew of most services represented because they felt the community did look after itself so well. However this was not entirely the case. One person was in tears speaking to us about having just lost his job and how worried he was. Another person felt that mental health issues were not well supported, and more understanding and help was needed. We were delighted that the school supported the event and attended, with the students making a valuable contribution. Although we timed the event to coincide with families being able to call in after school, the weather meant this did not happen to a large extent, which we couldn’t account for!
Overall, it feels like people are still very appreciative of our formula for community events. If anything, although public footfall has lessened with Covid, the need for the events to take place seems greater than ever.
 
We would like to thank Councillor Peter Crozier who kindly agreed to open the event for us and stayed to engage with the public and stallholders…and have his blood pressure taken by the community pharmacy!
We were very grateful to the Bere Alston Parish Hall for allowing us to put on our event, provide chances to visit beforehand, and for the effort they put in to making it run smoothly. We especially valued the time and effort put in by the primary school. We felt we created an event that generated a sense of energy and positive experiences for those that attended, and as such, fulfilled our aims.



For more information, please contact
Julie Matthews  julie@navigatecharity.org.uk
or Billie Burnett  volunteering@westdevoncvs.org.uk