Walworth Community Meeting – Reflections of a Community Organiser

 community meeting group

‘I felt valued and listened to’, ‘we don’t normally talk together about these things’ were some of our students’ comments following English for Action’s first ever community meeting.

Earlier this month, thirty-two people (EFA participants, local people and organisations) came together at Surrey Square Primary School, Southwark. The meeting was a place to meet others, share concerns and decide on which issues are most important to us.

May, from EFA’s Surrey Square’s ESOL class on Tuesdays and a parent at the school, kicked of proceedings with a confident opening welcome speech, then we learnt people’s names and how to say “good morning” in their first languages.

community meeting circle

Then we played the popular class warmer ‘Find someone who…’ where people move around the room, asking questions. I had only seen this activity take place in class before, and I thought worked really well in a community meeting context; people had fun and were more relaxed afterwards.

Following this, we broke out into three smaller discussion groups, where each person was given a chance to discuss their most pressing issues, which were written onto pieces of paper.community meeting break-out

We then categorised the issues into broader themes and wrote them onto A3 paper placed in the middle of the room: ‘Housing’, ‘Health’, ‘Childcare and Education’, ‘Activities and Services’, ‘Crime’, ‘Low wages’ and ‘Don’t know’. Each group placed their issues around the themes, and we were visually able to see which issues were most commonly felt.

We ended the meeting with a renewed commitment to change our community for the better.

So what next? We will research the issues in our classes in order to set out a programme for change. We will continue to take action on the issues identified. We will reach out to more people in the local community who share our commitment to change things for the better. Watch this space…

Jess Walker