Home » News & Events » REPORT of Holsworthy Community Wellbeing event, Tuesday 27 September 2022

REPORT of Holsworthy Community Wellbeing event, Tuesday 27 September 2022

Our Aims:

  • To give people the chance to find out more about their local community groups and services
  • To share information about where to go for advice
  • To inspire people to take up new opportunities or make new friends
  • To give people the chance to talk to their local council representative
  • To provide networking opportunities to local organisations and services

The event was held in the Holsworthy Memorial Hall with Covid and generic risk assessments in place. It is our fourteenth event since January 2018 and was the eighth community event we have organised as easing of Covid restrictions has allowed. The event was opened for us by Holsworthy’s Deputy Mayor, Cllr Nigel Kenneally.

Holsworthy Youth & Community Hub

1. Changes to our approach

As there are no mandatory rules under current Covid regulations, we asked people to exercise responsible choices. We also assessed the safety of the space. The main entrance door to the building was kept open to ensure a flow of air through the space. The hall has very high ceilings to help ventilate the space, and we observed a 1m distance between stallholders. Refreshments were provided in disposable/recyclable cups and snacks were individually wrapped.

  • Covid risk assessment on venue/event
  • Hand gel and face masks made available
  • Revised refreshment provision

2. Summary figures

66 people were involved in the event including:

22 stalls 22 organisations represented 32 members of the public

3. Holsworthy

Holsworthy is a market town of over 2500 people. It has a Wednesday market in the square and a busy livestock market now sited on the outskirts of the town. It’s location and proximity to Cornwall means it shares some health services over the county border with Bude and Stratton. It has a central area containing a pharmacy, a small supermarket, a post office, a large number of other independent shops, charity shops and services, including pubs and cafes. Other facilities are the Doctor’s Surgery (on the edge of town by the industrial estate), Community Hospital, Primary School, Community College, Museum, Town Hall and Memorial Hall. There is a larger supermarket and farm supplies on the edge of the town. Public transport services are limited. The town is a focal point for the rural area it serves and agriculture remains a major industry.

A number of people commented on the friendliness of the town, and the community spirit. That people are very ‘real’. Concerns were raised about the lack of services, especially transport. There was much appreciation of what local shops and services there are. There was also a number of comments about how isolated Holsworthy was, and the frustration that although they are closer to Bude in Cornwall than any other major centre, because of the way health and other services are planned, cross-county liaison between County Councils and Health organisations seemed to be an impossibility; this inevitably led to a feeling that resources were not best used and there was a lessening of services available to best fit community needs.

People commented that the effects of the pandemic were still being felt and that the impact on community services being offered was still significant. There was a feeling expressed more than once that people needed to re-learn what was available to them, and regain their confidence in coming forward to participate. Whilst people always supported events with enthusiasm, they were not necessarily so keen to step up into a volunteer role.

A number of people commented on the friendliness of the town, and the community spirit. That people are very ‘real’. Concerns were raised about the lack of services, especially transport. There was much appreciation of what local shops and services there are. There was also a number of comments about how isolated Holsworthy was, and the frustration that although they are closer to Bude in Cornwall than any other major centre, because of the way health and other services are planned, cross-county liaison between County Councils and Health organisations seemed to be an impossibility; this inevitably led to a feeling that resources were not best used and there was a lessening of services available to best fit community needs.

People commented that the effects of the pandemic were still being felt and that the impact on community services being offered was still significant. There was a feeling expressed more than once that people needed to re-learn what was available to them, and regain their confidence in coming forward to participate. Whilst people always supported events with enthusiasm, they were not necessarily so keen to step up into a volunteer role.

4.  How well did it work: Stallholder evaluation:

This highlighted a number of positives from the event. Comments included:

  • Confirmed a venue and potential volunteers for a Community Food Hub – very very good!”
  • “Well organised”
  • “Cross section of organisations”
  • “Excellent event for networking!”
  • “Valuable information!”
  • “Very good for meeting the community”
  • Well organised; very friendly”
  • “A good morning!”
One organisation made some excellent connections for developing future services in Holsworthy. Another had possibly signed up a number of new members and volunteers. All stallholders were enthusiastic about the format of the event, and positive about how valuable it had been to network with others.

361 Energy

We asked stallholders for their evaluation on the value of the event. Of the responses we received:

  • 94% felt they had expanded on their knowledge of other services available
  • 100% felt encouraged to engage with other services as a result
  • 88% felt they had useful exchanges with members of the public.

There were observations that more members of the public might have attended had the event been at a different time, and also discussion around how the event could have been differently publicised.

Stallholders attended from across a mix of organisations, both in terms of geography and scope. Some were local to Holsworthy, with others having a wider geographical area. A variety of services were represented. All stallholders were appreciative of the chance to network, share ideas and strategies, spread the word about what they were doing and in some instances begin to broker new ideas as a result of conversations developing at the event.

5. How well did it work: Public evaluation.

  • Most of this is new to me!”
  • “Lots of different organisations”
  • “I have found out about the new community hub in Holsworthy”
  • “I now know about the Holsworthy Food Bank and how to refer; I didn’t know before”

People commented on the wide variety of organisations. The mix of local groups and wider reaching services seemed to work well. There was a cheerful level of chatter in the hall through the whole morning. People were appreciative of free refreshments! At least one young couple had some focussed debt advice. A number of people expressed an interest in new volunteering opportunities. Others were glad to know about services that they did not know about and took away information to share with others. There was a good level of support from people who were involved in the community in other ways who wanted to find out more information but also wished to support the event.

6.  Participants

WisermoneyWDCVS
Home InsteadHolsworthy Social Prescriber
361 EnergyHATS
Walk and TalkHolsworthy Town Council
One Small StepDevon and Cornwall Police
Holsworthy Methodist Rural SupportDevon and Somerset Fire and Rescue
Methodist Churches/ROCHolsworthy Food Bank
Holsworthy Day CompanionsLearn Devon
Holsworthy LibraryHolsworthy Walk and Talk
Holsworthy Youth and Community HubLivewest Housing Association
Move it or Lose itTTVS
HATS
One Small Step

7.  Learning

Our Community Wellbeing event

Public footfall could have been higher, and we shared thoughts around this with participants. Some people thought there should have been less online reliance in advertising; some felt more. Some people felt there was not enough publicity in the town. Some people felt an evening event would work better. The event was advertised on Facebook pages for Holsworthy and those of a number of the outlying villages. Posters and fliers were also displayed at the livestock market, library, surgery, hospital, council offices and throughout shops and cafes in the town. Experience of running previous community events seems to show that an evening event does not boost numbers of the public attending, but does prove more difficult for potential stallholders, so the balance seems to tilt towards daytime events. Everyone appreciated free refreshments, stallholders and members of the public alike.

We felt that we offered a range of stalls for people to peruse, which was a view supported by the public and stallholders alike. Stallholders did valuable networking. People who attended engaged with stallholders, and information was taken away to share with others. The atmosphere in the event was upbeat, stalls had lots to see and discover, and there were some intense conversations going on in the general cheery hubbub of the space. Many comments were made around the friendliness of the event and the good organisation, which enabled people to feel safe and confident in the space.

The Wider Perspective

Community

As a rural market town, Holsworthy has lost services, such as The Link Centre (a mental health support facility). The community has a number of very motivated individuals in it and they spearhead a lot of local provision through speaking up and volunteering to make things happen. Like many rural communities, people look within their community for help often, rather than outside of it to other organisations. This is an interesting point for us to bear in mind. Here, we had a number of local movers and shakers coming to our event, which was a really positive thing to happen. It underlines the significance of local knowledge about a community when pitching an event.

It was also interesting to realise that in our statistics, we only quantify stallholders and then members of the public. Here, there was a significant third group; those stallholders who were actually volunteers in an organisation, but still members of the public. Their interest and role in the event is therefore slightly different.

Geography

The geography of Holsworthy presents it’s own difficulties as regards to the provision of services. Being close to the Cornish border, people see Bude and Stratton as places they have a link with, but being a different county statutory bodies and services do not, This creates a tension in service provision as services fit badly to the way the local area actually works. This is especially true within wider health provision. Some local organisations have a number of people from Bude who would like to attend services in Holsworthy, but no transport can be located for them cross-county boundary. We did not advertise into Cornwall for our event, as our project only reaches over Torridge and West Devon. Something to consider in the future – where local communities gravitate to and from.

People are still very appreciative of our formula for community events. The chance to meet people in person rather than through online meetings has become even more important. People are still wary of catching covid, and overwhelmed by the enormity of the cost of living crisis and general global situation. But if anything, although public footfall has lessened following Covid, the need for the events to take place seems greater than ever.

We would like to thank Deputy Mayor Cllr Nigel Kenneally who kindly agreed to open the event for us and stayed to engage with the public and stallholders. We also appreciate the help of the Memorial Hall who prepared the space for us.

For more information, please contact

Julie Matthews  julie@navigatecharity.org.uk

or Billie Burnett  volunteering@westdevoncvs.org.uk

Text Box: ‘Transitions’ is a National Lottery funded project operating over West Devon and Torridge, now in its sixth year. It offers free debt and money advice to people who are isolated by circumstance or geography. It seeks to boost community resilience by hosting community wellbeing events across rural communities in partnership with  West Devon CVS.