There is a growing social movement in Morecambe and it means business! It’s time for things to change. People, together, reimagining and building an altogether different kind of future. Our forgotten seaside town is reconnecting and rediscovering just how amazing it is and realising its potential. It is in connecting with each other and giving space to spark some amazing conversations that this catalytic reaction is beginning to ignite.
Before we have a bit of a recap about what we’ve (and we means EVERYONE) already achieved, just want to let you know that our next meeting will be
MONDAY 19th MARCH – 1830h for 1900h START – THE ALHAMBRA, MORECAMBE, LA4 4EU
PLEASE come along and bring a friend with you.
Over the last few weeks we’ve had some really amazing discussions at ‘The Alhambra’, but there have been many others also in a variety of settings across the town, hosted by a diverse group of people. The initial gathering happened around the issue of poverty and its effects on children and their health. We used something called ‘open space’ in which the people together decided what should be talked about. An overarching question (“What kind of Morecambe do we want to leave for future generations?”) helped give the evening some shape. There were 19 conversations between 300 people, which distilled down into 4 main themes:
Children and Young People
Health and Wellbeing
Elderly Citizens and Loneliness
After recognising what the main issues are, we got back together to remember what is amazing about Morecambe – a good old appreciative enquiry – such an important foundation stone to any conversation or thought of changing the future together. We need to remember what is GOOD, so that we build on it, rather than feeling like we have to focus on solving problems. So, we asked everyone – “Morecambe is such an amazing place – what makes it special for you?”
Some really great things unfolded:
We know Morecambe is unique and we have some of the most beautiful scenery of anywhere in England. Our people are friendly, welcoming, passionate and full of potential, with no pretence – in fact, we’ll knock your edges off you with our great sense of humour! There’s real community pride here and a sense of belonging – we love calling this place “home”. And we know how to party – we have fantastic festivals – full of colour, kites and great culture!
So the next time we got together, we started to focus in on “health and wellbeing” (the conversations on the other areas have either already started in other places or are yet to begin). Rather than leap into action, we gave some more time to really work out where our passion is about this and what we might be able to achieve together. So we asked another question! “Knowing what we know about Morecambe, how might we move forward together to improve the health and wellbeing of every person?” We worked in small circles, to keep it relational and then everyone fed back together using a conversation technique called a “fishbowl”. The main themes that emerged and things that as a community we want to focus on are:
1) A Morecambe Citizenship
There was a sense in the room that we need to celebrate our history and sense of identity, to recover our ‘identity of fun’ and capitalise on our brilliant sense of humour; to throw ourselves into random acts of kindness and focus on our creativity, music, the arts and entertainment. Within this though there is an agreement that we want a town that is tidy and feels safe – we recognised that this takes responsibility from us as citizens but also effective partnerships with the council and police. We want to build on the festivals already in Morecambe, by having a health festival called the ‘Sunshine Fest’.
We know that the biggest cause of premature death is isolation and loneliness. We want to see better connections across the town and between the generations to reduce social isolation. There were conversations about a befriending service and also an idea about students and elderly people co-habiting (as seen in the Netherlands) was explored – sharing life experiences and breaking down walls that separate people.
3) Let People Know What’s Happening
We want this sense of connectedness to grow through good information sharing. We see this happening in lots of ways, through word of mouth and relationships, but also through things like: advocacy, wellbeing champions, a community directory of services, digital notice boards and signposting services. We want these things located in places where people already go, like supermarkets and shopping centres.
We want to see better employment prospects in Morecambe with a retention of professionals. This will come through the up skilling of local people, linking more effectively with the local Universities – perhaps with a local campus in Morecambe, proving local education opportunities, or perhaps through better and more affordable transport links – cycle paths and trams. We want to see local jobs for local people that pay a living wage, not a minimum wage. We also want more involvement from local businesses in these conversations, with increased opportunities for volunteering and the development of a skills exchange.
5) Local Activities for Wellbeing rather than ‘Health’
We want our local health centres to become ‘wellbeing hubs’, that help prevent illness as well as looking after us when we are unwell. After all – this is Morecambe, where beauty surrounds and health abounds! We want more Mental Health Cafes, walking groups, food education groups (especially for pregnant women), better community centres, more affordable sports opportunities and better use of our green spaces. We also need people who can talk openly and safely about sexual health with our young people – some of whom could become ‘young champions’, and enable a better conversation about addiction and recovery. Perhaps the recovery community have a bigger role to play in the town.
We want to feel like our GP practice is listening to local people and working with us to create better health and wellbeing for everyone. In fact, we want all public bodies to listen better and do real consultation, not just play lip service to us. We like the idea that ‘nothing about us, without us, is for us’. Before decisions are made, the local people should be asked about their priorities – and we would rather this was done through more informal meetings that involve us rather than just people talking at us.
We want to ensure life-skills are embedded throughout our communities. We want to ensure better literacy, budgeting and cooking skills and believe this needs to start in schools. Perhaps we need to enable more room in the school curriculum for the reintroduction of some of these things, like home economics and also parenting skills for our teenagers and young parents.
8) Local Aspirations
We want Morecambe to be a place where people would aspire to be, where we focus on the positive stories of lives being transformed and all the good that happens here every day. We want to tackle poverty together and remove the shame people feel around this issue, especially the use of food banks. And we want to connect with other places around the globe, developing strong relationships across the globe that give us fresh perspectives and lift our eyes beyond our own issues and help us recognise that we belong to a local and a global community.
So next time, we’re getting into some action planning – this is where the rubber hits the road! We want these ideas to become real projects that begin to practically change the future!
PLEASE please come along and bring a friend with you – be part of this amazing movement for good and let’s see what we might be able to achieve together. Think about which thing you are especially interested in being a part of (from the list above) and maybe come ready with a project idea or some passion to be part of something. Who knows what incredible things might emerge for the health and wellbeing of people right across the town?!
It’s too good to miss!