How To Set Up Your Own Community Event

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Local events are a great way to bring communities closer and support great causes, so we have created a list of our top 5 ideas to inspire and assist you in putting on your own event within your neighbourhood. Maybe you want to raise funds for a cause close to your heart, celebrate something special, generate positive change in your area, or perhaps you just want to get to know your neighbours? Either way, read on and we will help you figure out what type of event is best for you.

When planning your event there are a number of things to be considered, so bear in mind that the type of event will depend on what you want to achieve, the demographic of your audience, and the number of people involved. In addition to all of these factors, there is also the element of the great British weather. Nonetheless we think that late summer is a great time to stage your event, and with so many local community venues on our directory, you are not short of finding a place to host it! https://wimbledoncommunity.org/venue-search

street party, set up, community event

1. Host a Street Party – Street parties have their origin in New York at the start of World War I. In the UK, the concept of ‘Peace Teas’ begun in 1919 after the war and acted as a treat for children.  Back then, they were formal ‘sit down’ affairs but have since become a common feature in England and Wales on all major national days of celebration – the most recent one being the Royal Wedding of Meghan Markle and Prince Harry.  They can be held at any time, for all ages, and are a great way to build community spirit in your street.  People can get involved by bringing a dish to share or you can set up a BBQ.  To help you plan your street party check this detailed guide published by the UK Government, and the Merton Council website.

A final tip: If you are planning a street party, make sure you get a small organising committee together to help you.  And if a street party is not for you, why not get a group of neighbours together and visit one of the fantastic summer community events held at some of our listed venues across Merton: https://wimbledoncommunity.org/community-noticeboard-new/.

2. Put on a Film Screening – Most of us enjoy a good film, so putting a screening on in your local area is bound to be a success! (You can even hire a popcorn machine – just google ‘popcorn machine providers in Merton.’)  Admittedly it will be tricky to do so in your own living room or garden, so we would recommend checking with your local library, school, community centre, church or social/sports club about hiring their facilities.  Perhaps with the absence of rain this summer, you could even consider an open-air screening in your local park!  Remember – under UK copyright law you need to obtain a license to screen a film in public, more details on requirements and how to obtain a one-off screening license can be found here.

3. Run a Garden Project – Is there a green space near you that could do with a bit of TLC? You could get a group of people together to bring it back to shine.  Sometimes even just a few hours of weeding, picking up litter, and planting some new flowers will make a big difference.  If you have more time to spare, you could approach your local school about setting up a vegetable patch with the help of parents and children, or run a local competition on anything garden related, for example who has the most colourful blooms or is growing the tastiest tomatoes in their patch?  For further inspiration and help you can visit the May Project Gardens website. A related tip: The New Horizon Centre is hosting May Project Gardens cooking sessions until the end of August, click here to find out more.

4. Organise an Arts & Crafts Festival – With so many wonderful ways to express ourselves through the various disciplines in arts & crafts, from water colours to wood craft, knitting and sewing to making jewellery, there are bound to be many people of all ages in your area who have an interest in one of these.  Local arts & crafts classes or providers of arts & crafts supplies will welcome the opportunity of a stall to showcase their services and wares, and local artists may be happy to exhibit their art, lend a hand in opening the festival, or perhaps run a taster session to introduce festival goers to a new art form.  This is also the ideal opportunity to raise funds for charity through a raffle or by auctioning locally produced art, and an arts competition will help to keep everyone engaged and motivated!  Just make sure your dates do not clash with Merton Arts Festival which is run over two weekends in September (15-16 and 22-23 September). http://www.mertonartsfestival.org/.  Many of our listed venues run arts & craft activities and competitions too, so remember to check your local community venue and our events calendar for a class near you: https://wimbledoncommunity.org/community-noticeboard-new/.

5. Stage a Fireworks/Bonfire Night – Last but not least, have you ever thought about setting up your own neighbourhood fireworks/bonfire night?  Whilst this requires quite some planning and preparation, there is no doubt that a firework display will draw in the crowds.  There is something magical about fireworks and a warming bonfire, not to mention the smell of freshly cooked popcorn, toasted marshmallows, toffee apples, and mulled wine for the adults!  Whilst the obvious dates are Guy Fawkes Night and New Years Eve, fireworks can be put on at other times too.  They can accompany a special event, e.g. a wedding or special birthday.  Alternatively, you can use it to raise money for your chosen charity or simply as an excuse to get your local community together.  Of course, if planning your own display seems too much work, there are plenty of wonderful events in Merton over the Autumn and Winter months: https://www.merton.gov.uk/communities-and-neighbourhoods/events/fireworks-displays.

Bear in mind that to hold a public firework display you will need to allow plenty of time for planning it.  Make sure you contact Merton Council to enquire about applicable safety requirements and procedures, necessary licenses, and information on who to contact/involve (e.g. Fire Brigade, Red Cross).  The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents has published a useful guide on fireworks, and for a bigger display, your fireworks provider will be able to guide you further.

Of course there are many more possibilities for running a community event; pub quizzes and swap shops being two of the most popular ones.  Running a local community event can be a rewarding way of engaging with your local community, but do make sure you get a small committee together to help.  And last but not least, we’d love to hear about your events so please send your pictures and write-ups to general@wimbledoncommunity.org for a feature in our next newsletter or guest blog!

Written by Susanne Ollig

Sources and Further Readings;

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/blog/community-event-ideas-ds00/
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/can-do-guide-for-organisers-of-voluntary-events/the-can-do-guide-to-organising-and-running-voluntary-and-community-events

https://www.theguardian.com/voluntary-sector-network/2013/feb/05/tipa-planning-successful-community-event
https://www2.merton.gov.uk/comm_cohesiontoolkit_apr08final_-_for_online1.pdf

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