Creating social connections in a 15 minute city

Over the last 6 months, and along with most of the UK, I’ve found myself spending a lot of time at home. I’ve enjoyed meeting people who live nearby and getting to know my neighbours better whilst chatting over the fence. I’ve also enjoyed the 15-second commute from home to my makeshift office in the spare bedroom, and don’t really fancy resuming my normal commute full-time.

Cities around the world are considering how to move towards a ‘15 minute city’ - an idea that your neighbourhood offers services and quality of life within the space of 15 minutes on foot or by bike. An article in the Financial Times explains this idea in more detail. As I started thinking about my neighbourhood, I realised that I could walk to many essential services within 15 minutes - doctor, dentist, post office, pub - but I didn’t know of many leisure activities or social groups I could get to within that time frame.

Community spirit and local connections have helped us through the coronavirus pandemic and will help us to build resilience and get through any future lockdowns. It’s nice to feel that you know people locally and can say hello when you’re out and about. Time to Shine projects have set up many groups and social activities over the years. Some are led and organised by paid staff, but others have developed into member-led, sustainable groups based around shared interests. These are often run entirely by volunteers and delivered locally in small community venues. This is true community spirit in action, and an important way for people to develop social connections and a good quality of life within 15 minutes of home.

Time to Shine has gathered learning from delivery partners who have a wealth of experience in helping people to set up their own social groups or leisure activities. The following documents aim to help others who want to be more active within their communities, and each document has a focus on practical action and sources of help and support.

The first is a Time to Shine toolkit: An ABCD approach to setting up a community group in your local area. This toolkit shares the project coordinator’s learning and experience of delivering Leeds Community Connect, an Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) project which helped residents to set up their own community groups.

The second is Community First Yorkshire’s report on Leeds Community Connect, a project which was funded for four years by Time to Shine. You can also watch Community First Yorkshire’s video about Leeds Community Connect.

The third is a Time to Shine learning briefing: Helping community groups to become self-led and sustainable.

We hope sharing this learning from delivery partners who have connected with their communities so successfully will inspire and enable other groups in Leeds and beyond to become more active.

Lisa Fearn
Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Time to Shine

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