Blog by Ros Henwood, Near Neighbours Project Support Officer in the East Midlands

I woke up on the morning of May 23, to news of the attack in Manchester. It made me more determined than ever to make sure our planned Near Neighbours event went ahead that evening. So, minus bunting and balloons, and with an opening of a minute’s silence, we went ahead.

Many inspiring people attended – leaders of past, present and (we hope) future Near Neighbours’ projects, Liz Carnelley the Programme Director for Near Neighbours, and Ali Khimji the Grants Coordinator. It also an honour to welcome the newly elected Lord Mayor of Leicester.

‘Great to see so many wonderful projects bringing people together, thank you Near Neighbours’ said one post-it note on our evaluation wallpaper. That’s what we were celebrating on Tuesday 23rd May. Near Neighbours has supported over a dozen projects in Leicester during 2016/17 and they were all represented. Many had put together display boards, and some offered interactive activities – making bags out of newspaper, henna, and a matching photos game.

Over 60 people enjoyed a vegetarian buffet, a video about One Roof’s Winter Night Shelter, and a chance to find out how projects have used their grants to bring people from different backgrounds together. Projects focusing on many topics such as: breast-feeding, litter-picking, singing, crafts, children’s activities, coffee and parking issues have all united different groups.

It was inspiring to read the post-its projects stuck on the evaluation wallpaper about the impact on communities. In answer to the question ‘what have you learned?’ , there were many responses. Some included, ‘that anything is possible’, ‘what lovely people there are in Leicester’ and  ‘working together can make a great impact’. Thanks to all who attended, and who helped to light a candle in the darkness.