With local lockdowns being enforced across the country, the idea of community has never been so important. Connections with your neighbours help to keep loneliness at bay, and also provide a support network in the event of someone needing to self-isolate. While you may not be able to host local events in the same way right now, you can still create positive change and raise money in your local area.
Bringing a group together in the current climate doesn’t just depend on local lockdown restrictions. Your goals, as well as the size and demographic of your local community, also matter. To give you some inspiration, here are seven COVID-safe and fun ideas for a community event.
1. Organise a virtual trivia night
Zoom quizzes were a big hit during the UK’s national lockdown. Organising one within your local community could be a fun way to meet your neighbours, raise money, and even find new members for your post-lockdown pub quiz team.
General knowledge questions will appeal to a broad audience, but it’s always good to focus a few rounds on specialist subjects like football or music. Add a neighbourhood spin by including questions about your local area. For example, “How much is a pint of milk in the corner shop?” or “In what year, was the block of flats over the road built?” You can even add a charitable element by fundraising for a local organisation.
2. Doorstep drinks
Earlier this year, people went outside every Thursday night to clap for the NHS. The weekly applause may be over, but you can still bring the positive vibes by holding a socially-distanced street party. Everyone can sit at their own front door with a drink and chat to each other – from over two metres away, of course. It might involve a bit of shouting, but the opportunity to see other faces can be a positive boost for members of the community who live alone.
3. Gardening days
One of the best community project ideas is to get together and beautify your neighbourhood. If there’s a green space in your area that has seen better days, why not organise a group of volunteers to restore it to its former glory? You don’t need to be shoulder-to-shoulder to dig out weeds, pick litter, and plant flowers. Assign a patch to each household so that they can social distance while transforming it into something everyone can enjoy. Alternatively, offer to help out elderly or disabled members of the community with their private garden.
As well as encouraging people to care for the local area and bringing communities together, gardening has added health and wellbeing benefits – more important than ever during periods of restrictions and uncertainty. Green-fingered work can help to reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression, as well as boost overall feelings of satisfaction.
4. Hold a swap shop
People are spending more time at home than ever before, so it’s only natural that they’re turning to decluttering. Rather than throwing old clothes and furniture in the bin, why not share it with your neighbours? Holding a swapping event can have both social and environmental benefits for your community. Not only does it minimise the number of unwanted items going to landfill, but it also helps those in need.
Rather than all gathering in one place, treat it like an American garage sale and ask participants to place items in their front gardens or on their doorstep. Thoroughly clean objects before swapping and keep hand sanitiser nearby for people to use before and after touching items. Make sure to maintain a two-metre distance at all times, too, and to notify the local council beforehand.
5. Organise an arts and crafts festival
Every community has budding artists and craft enthusiasts, so let them show off their talents by hosting a local arts and crafts festival. While it’s currently not possible to have studio tours or markets, there are a few collaboration event ideas that work in a socially distant way:
Choose one week for the festival where participants display their work in their windows, much like the rainbow trails people set up back in March. To limit social contact, people who sell crafts like pottery, knitwear, and jewellery could place a sign in their window directing people to their website so that they can buy the products online.
Make it outdoor-only. Edinburgh’s colony of artists held its annual exhibition in members’ front gardens this year. With strict social distancing measures, mandatory face masks, and hand sanitiser stations, they were able to keep things safe while allowing people to showcase their talents.
Go virtual by setting up a dedicated events page on Facebook. Each person gets one dedicated post to promote themselves and show images of their work. Other members of the community can then connect and purchase items online.
6. Go shopping for neighbours
Not everything has to be fun. Sometimes, you can just hold events to help the community – for example, by rallying volunteers to go shopping for vulnerable people. Some people have disabilities which make it difficult to wear masks for extended periods of time and some may be in isolation while waiting for the results of a COVID-19 test.
Keep them, and everyone around you, safe by creating a system where those who can go shopping are able to pick up whatever they need. This could take the form of a WhatsApp group or a community forum.
7. Host an online talent show
Raise your hand if you took up a new hobby in 2020. Or perhaps you already have a passion that you’ve had more time to work on. By hosting a weekly “Our Street’s Got Talent” show on Zoom, you can celebrate local talent and culture. Treat it like an open mic, allowing people to reserve their slot in advance.
They could do anything, whether that’s a 10-minute chat about wine tasting, a rendition of their favourite song, or a demonstration of their crochet skills. This is one of the best neighbourhood activities for learning more about the people who live around you. Check out our tips on hosting a live online event to avoid any technical hitches.
Whatever happens, community is key
Bringing communities together is more important than ever. As well as keeping spirits up during this tough time, it also helps to build solidarity in your local area.
An easy way to keep in touch is to set up a neighbourhood forum, whether that’s on a social media platform like Facebook or a purpose-built website like Nextdoor. And when it comes to organising and promoting community activities, we can help you set up everything from an event page to a ticketing system.
Remember: Hosting events right now is all about being responsible. Carry out risk assessments for community events with the help of our handy guide.