JOLLY'S WORLD CAFE: 'A community together can change achieve anything'

'A community together can change achieve anything'

That is the 'writing on the tablecloths' from a meeting of Skegness residents who gathered at Jolly's World Cafe to share their aspirations for the town and how they believe they can be achieved.

Residents had been tempted with free cake and incentives worth £10 to attend the event - one of a number being piloted in Lincolnshire by World Cafes and Mutual Gain.

In Skegness the event on Friday night was hosted in the Tower Gardens Pavilion, with others planned for Sleaford, Sutton Bridge and South West Ward, Gainsborough in the hope of securing a £30,000 pot for projects to make communities strong and drive down crime.

The writing on the tablecloths at Jolly's World Cafe in Skegness is transferred onto the board.

It had been organised with the support of Skegness Neighbourhood Policing, town councillors and other partners and members of the community.

But although councillors and police were present, it was not about another Skegness Neighbourhood Development Plan or a chance to have a go at the local police inspector about concerns.

It was about empowering communities to make change - and those who attended were asked to write their ideas on tablecloths that they may have thought had been laid for the 'afternoon tea' style cakes and teas and coffees served by young members of Skegness Explorers.

'More police' was naturally a popular answer to the question, "What do residents think needs to happen to make Skegness safer?". However, Susan Ritchie of Mutual Gain, who went around looking at people's answers, said: "Wouldn't it be better to have a town with no police? To build strong communities by talking and listening, so the police were only needed for urgent matters?."

PCSO Michelle Collins visited the groups to see how they were responding to the questions she asked during the evening.

After the two-hour meeting, Dr Andrew Fisher, an associate from Mutual Gain, said he felt there was a strong sense of belief in Skegness.

"Communities are stronger together," he said. "When you communicate you can achieve anything.

"This has been an opportunity to listen to the voices in the community and is the first of a two-part programme.

"We are going to take all the information from the night and it will be coded and analysed.

Residents were asked to write their ideas on the tablecloth.

"The themes will help to support a second project which is called Participation Budgeting (or PB for short). With our PB project, we will have £15,000 minimum for the community to bid into with their ideas and projects which have come out of this meeting."

PCSO Michelle Collins, one of the local organisers who introduced the evening and asked the questions, said she was delighted with how the evening went.

"It's been so nice to see so many people here from the local community and get their views on what they would like to happen in Skegness, how they think we can make Skegness better and how we can reinvest and reboost the community spirit in Skegness.

"It's been really positive and really good fun."

Refreshments had been donated by Tesco for the evening.

Skegness Mayor, Coun Trevor Burnham, is also on the organising committee. He said: "We started planning for Jolly's World Cafe over two years ago and because Covid 19 over the last 18 months most of the training we received was done on Zoom.

"Tonight it all came together was great to see members of the public sitting around the tables, talking to others that they have never met before, me included.

"That's what tonight was about - getting the public to have a say in the community."

One member of the community who attended had no problem covering her tablecloth with ideas.

Teresa Hawnt, of Addlethorpe, who retired to the area, said she went along to meet likeminded people and hear what they had to say.

"I have felt very isolated since moving here and through the Covid period and I am sure there are many like me," she said. "This has been a useful opportunity to hear what people had to say and hopefully help make a difference.

Mayor Coun Trevor Burnham (far left) chatting to a group including Paul Dixon of the Skegness Area Business Chamber (left) and Insp Colin Haigh (right).

"I had a career in public service and I'm not ready to be put out to grass yet."

Some of the ideas written on tablecloths.
Dr Andrew Fisher, an associate from Mutual Gain (left) with Mayor of Skegness Coun Trevor Burnham.
Skegness Explorers served refreshments during the evening.
There was a positive response to the evening.
Although councillors like Julie Sadler (right) were present, the meeting was not about politics.