What a year that was….

Our AGM will take place on Saturday March 20th at 2pm. Like all of our other events this year this will still be held on Zoom, and the link will be posted here and emailed to members closer to the time.

Despite the enormous challenges faced by us all over the past year, I think we can take some pride in the achievements we have all made as a part of our community and Communities Forum.

12 months back, when the Covid-19 really became a thing in our lives and communities, the Hanover & Elm Grove Communities Forum  completely repurposed itself and redirected all of its efforts toward Covid emergency relief. We needed to adapt to online and quickly moved to weekly Zoom meetings, which were well attended and a place to share vital information and resources. The Forum was really worried that the more vulnerable members of our community were experiencing problems, and set out to better understand the needs and challenges faced by people in our area and to try and do something to help.

To start this off, we formed a partnership with our local mutual aid community, and gave over our website to host pandemic emergency information, and the whole site was rewritten with this in mind. As were aware that many in our community were not able to access online information easily, we worked with the council to design and distribute a community support newsletter which went to each home in the ward. This approach was picked up by the council who extended this work based on our design to provide a newsletter for every home in the city.

The next thing which we focused on was emergency food provision. Our communities around the Phoenix and the Pankhurst area established emergency food bank provision, and the Communities Forum set up a crowdfunder which raised around £4,000 and when matched with other funding gave us a Covid-19 hardship fund of over £7,000 to support our neighbourhood.

The emergency food projects which were developed over the year have evolved into longer term and more sustainable projects – the Phoenix FoodHub and the Pankhurst Pantry.

Aside from the Covid-19 response, the Forum has also been able to focus on other local issues, concerns and opportunities: hosting public meetings around the redevelopment of the Elm Grove Hospital site, looking at housing need as well as heritage conservation, and a presentation from Bunker Housing Co-op about self-build housing. Member groups have continued to develop activities which support the outcomes of our Neighbourhood Action Plan, including tree planting led by Hanover Action, who also managed a socially distances ‘seed swap’ event in the summer, resident led graffiti clean-ups, and ongoing dialogue with the police and other service providers through our regular community zooms (which have now returned to monthly rather than weekly events)

A big and quite exciting piece of work also being developed is the Liveable Hanover initiative. This is a proposal which has been worked up by Hanover Action and the Forum and with active support of our ward councillors, and is about reducing the impact of rat-running and vehicle through-traffic in our area, and improving our streets for walking, cycling, playing and planting. A deputation taken to council earlier on in the year, and ongoing work led by Cllr Hills  – including a ‘pop-up Parklet’ demonstration streetspace – has resulted in the council selecting our area as a pilot project, and investing in improvement to our streets. For more on this project see https://hanoverandelmgrove.net/home/liveable-neighbourhoods/ and for the first part of our participative street design activities see https://hanoverandelmgrove.net/2021/01/19/what-would-your-dream-street-look-like/

As we move out of lockdown, the Forum wants to keep hold of the things we have learned and built over this time – our food projects, our environmental goods and – in spite of a negative backdrop – the positivity which has come through our local networking; zooming and talking with each other as a whole community. Our AGM takes place on March 20th and we would really welcome all members of our community getting involved, joining all of us to better support each other and help create a more resilient and sustainable neighbourhood.

Our AGM will include election of Officers and our Commitee. If you would like to step forward to join us in tackling local problems and issues, and identifying projects and improvements to build on local strengths and ambition, you would be very welcome.

Please contact us for more information hanoverandelmgrove@gmail.com . We look forward to seeing you on the 20th!

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