Community co-design consultation at our Jubilee Picnic in the Park

Jenny Lind

Last Thursday was the first of the four-day celebration of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee across the UK, and the sun was shining on the Jenny Lind area of Norwich for our Picnic in the Park. 

More than 1,000 invites went out to residents. Weeks of planning had seen bands, staging, tents, a generator, face painters and entertainers booked. Now even the sun was joining in to make the day a success. 

Carrie Mansfield, our executive producer, looks back at the day. 

We’re just a five-minute walk from the Jenny Lind area which is sometimes considered to be one of deprivation with a history of County Lines activity. An area where people struggle to make ends meet by working two minimum wage jobs. 

As we have been finding out through our Co-Design work, it’s also home to a resilient community who look after each other, who have creative ideas and generous spirits. 

As a charity, historically our work has focused on supporting children and young people who face challenges to engage in positive creative activity. 

We do this well, having engaged with thousands of them over the past 18 years. Many of whom we have supported into adulthood with positive outcomes. 

During lockdown, when we looked out from our venue onto a quiet, sleeping city. Over to the nearby high-rise blocks, we asked ourselves if we could do more for the communities right on our doorstep? 

Our focus has always been children and young people from across the county. But what about the families? The mums and dads, the older people who would be struggling just across the road? 

 

We knew that once lockdown had ended times were going to be tough. We challenged ourselves to develop work that would widen our reach and be relevant to even more people and started to learn about an approach called Co-Design. 

In essence this approach sees us using our skills, experience and resources and applying them to working with small groups of volunteers co-designing creative projects that address a need or make a change they want to see in their community. 

One community we have decided to focus on with this work over the coming years is the Jenny Lind Area of Norwich and our Jubilee Picnic in the Park was a great opportunity to continue our community consultation, get people involved, talk to residents and, of course, celebrate the jubilee together. 

It was a fantastic day. 

More than 800 people enjoyed music from our former Unsigned participant and our youth patron Finn DohertyThe Evaders, the Mechanism Quintet and the Vagaband. 

Children and adults had their faces painted, got temporary tattoos, made crowns and corgi ears at the craft area. We were also able to give people free vouchers worth £5 to spend in Sam’s Café over the weekend. 

There was a tent where people were invited to make a model of the local area. Different size boxes represented the buildings, the streets, the places. There was space to draw and write down what their community means to them and how they would like it to be. 

There was a very tall stilt walker entertaining the crowds and thousands of giant bubbles which the children loved chasing after to pop. The community police came along to join in the fun, as did city and county councillors. 

The day brought together so many people to enjoy the park, have their spirits lifted and to see a space in the heart of their community transformed. That’s the power music, creativity and the arts can have. 

We can’t wait to see the impact of the community co-design creative projects in the coming years.  

 

Our Community Co-Design projects across the county are part funded by the Paul Hamlyn Foundation, we are currently working to secure match funding for this important work, any donations would be gratefully received. 

Councillor Emma Corlett, who represents Norfolk County Council’s Town Close Ward, had a great time at the picnic. 

She said: “Town Close councillors have heard such brilliant feedback from residents who attended the picnic in the park. Comments included that people felt proud of their community and were able to ‘show it off’ to visiting relatives. They really valued being able to spend time together. 

“The activities and entertainment were really high quality and many parents said how important it was for the children to run around and do fun things with their friends. Something that was so sorely missed during lockdowns. 

“Lots of people have stopped us over the past few days and asked if we can make it an annual or regular event. 

“Local businesses reported a huge positive impact on trade, with the café having their best ever day of takings and a charity shop taking treble their usual income for a Thursday. 

“Given the cost-of-living crisis it was so essential to put on an event that was free and accessible and welcoming to everyone in our diverse community. We also had a great time. Thank you so much to The Garage for hosting such a fabulous event.” 

The Garage would also like to thank everyone who helped us on the day including Lunar Stretch TentsEmotive Sound and Light, Viking Stage Lighting and Norwich City Council for the loan of the flags. 

Our Jubilee Picnic in the Park was funded by The National Lottery – Jubilee Fund. 

If you would like to volunteer as a community co-designer of creative projects to make social changes in communities, please get in touch. We are currently recruiting for volunteers in the Jenny Lind Area. Email Sarah Witcomb via [email protected] 

If you’re interested in taking a creative class or course you can find out more here and here. Our friendly front of house team is happy to answer any questions. Give them a call on 01603 283382 or email [email protected].

You can find our latest Covid policy here. 

Keep up to date with everything we’re up to by signing up for our monthly newsletter here or follow us on TwitterInstagram or Facebook.  


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