It has been a crazy year for all of us, hasn't it? It only seems like five minutes ago we were embracing the New Year and in a blink of an eye, here we are again! I think this year compared to past years, in my eyes, I've sort of viewed it as the sort of repair year from the Covid-19 lockdowns. I don't want to go into the doom and gloom of this year, the news does that enough and I am tired of the bad overshadowing the greatness. Instead, I want to commemorate the community through what I believe was one of the biggest community accomplishments of this year from my point of view as a Worker within Birtley C.C.
This main acknowledgement is awarded to how everybody chipped in as we set out our Ukraine Appeal. Places up and down the country worked relentlessly to aid another Country in Crisis and the way everyone held their spirit and support was undeniably astounding. When it was asked if anyone locally was collecting for Ukraine, you wouldn't believe that there was no thought or thinking when I responded with a firm 'Yes, we are.' Bare in mind, it was spontaneous, but that is the spirit we all grew up within my family particularly, 'to help spontaneously, and without question where we can!' From the moment this decision was made, I worked around the clock from early hours in the morning to very late at night collecting, organising and sourcing vans to help us transfer the items to be transported. Thankfully just as I was thinking 'Crikey, how are we going to transport all of this?' the knight in shining armour, the ultimate warrior of the story, Kam from Polish Community gave us a visit and all of my prayers were answered.
I'm not going to sit here and lavish in my own credit, because I don't do it for credit or reward- none of us do. We do these things because again, most people who are orientated around Birtley C.C. grew up to help those around us and see that the reward was selflessness itself, and to see and understand that yes, we made an impact even if it was small. However, the purpose of me writing this blog is because I do not want those to forget this moment, and I do want to heavily acknowledge and praise the volunteers that came forward through those two weeks who aided us through organizing item categories, to sourcing boxes, to packing, to loading vans, for also giving their spare precious time to help this incredible cause. The first time I walked into our Community Shop the day after I said yes, we had a few bags, but the very next morning after that when I walked in, I cried. The generosity of the general public was so overwhelming and personally, I think we were one, if not, the biggest hotspot locally for this. No more than a day after, bags and bags of donations were piling to ceilings, in cupboards, the balcony even started into the main hall! Once we unpacked and organised and turned for a coffee, when we turned back square one! We laugh at this now, and we also smile about it too. Not only did it open up an opportunity for those local to help out, I feel that it also helped to restore a community connection since Covid-19's Lockdown. One Friday I had never seen the Main Hall so full of volunteers who came down to help pack ready for the vans. It was almost equivalent to how I'd envision Santa's Workshop as a kid, everyone dashing here and there, calling out 'I have toiletries here!', 'Who's packing medication?', 'Anymore food for this box?', and my favourite phrase, 'Where's the duct tape?!' whilst our Birtley photographer snapped a whole load of photos (I'll see if I can find a few to insert onto this post, but you can find them on our Facebook Page too!)
I think at the time we were organising and arranging things, we were so focused on the current actions what we were doing that we didn't really have much time to think about the situation or allow ourselves to process what was happening because the environment was so fast paced. Yes, we were talking about Ukraine and Russia amongst other related things, but what really did hit it home for all of us was when the bigger vans came on the final day and we watched them leave with all of remaining donations. Lord Lawson Sixth Form students came down and offered a hand as well as our group of volunteers, and there was this conveyer belt of volunteers passing boxes from upstairs right up into the storage containers of the vans and once the last one went in, we stood and watched as the doors closed and the vans slowly departed. The adrenaline beforehand that many of us may have felt during the main processes, once the vans were leaving and we were stood with nothing left to do, knowing our job was done... that was emotional, and I mean a severely emotional moment. In reflection, we ALL did this, Birtley did this. Birtley from knowledge and experience of growing up here for the entire 23 years I've existed, is one of the most deprived areas in the North East, yet we ALL did this! We gave, even if it was as little as one tin. Every single person that donated, helped, volunteered did this truly amazing thing and this had deeply reminded me that this is what a perfect community spirit is. Some of us made new friends, we separated our differences and worked together and if someone had asked me if I would do it all again, I would most likely say yes, even though I would hope that in years to come this conventional world and society will be more peaceful, affordable, fair, more accepting, and more harmonic to prevent ever needing to do something like this again. We are just one little community in a country that has a grand population of over 67.33 million people, yet the amount of aid that we produced as a community, do you not think that did more than just scratch the surface? Let's put it into a perspective: From core memory, I suspect more than three hundred boxes were transported from here with every necessity under the sun. In those boxes we had clothes, shoes, blankets, food, medication, toys, baby products, recreational activities, pet food, pet supplies and more. The items shipped would have been distributed to individuals, families and I believe some even were transported to those fighting on the Frontlines. It goes to show that even a few donations would have helped a family or two, but from what managed to achieve, we've helped possibly a number of state or city residents of Ukraine who have had to take refuge and escape. That is insaaaaane to think about! It also goes to prove that when a community comes together, anything is possible to achieve. One action can cause a ripple effect, and that ripple can soon turn into a tsunami so in many ways I think that is quite inspiring to remind yourselves of that you are all capable of making a difference if you make your voice loud enough and that comes from how hard you stamp your feet and how many people join in the creation of the echo.
Birtley C.C., as we always were, is a place where people can turn to if they need help. We want to continue to support those in need and break stigmas such as being too proud to ask for help because you're conditioned to feel ashamed for doing that. That's exactly what we want to get rid of. As cost of living inflation disrupts more households and workers, and those who are already struggling to afford their bare necessities we are doing everything we can and want to reassure everyone that we are working our way around this in the best way that we can. We can't magically fix your life, but there are things we can do and people we know that can help make things more bearable. as Maslow once depicted as he created the hierarchy of needs where he depicted that one individual's morale cannot truly be fulfilled without Safety, Love, Self Worth, Food, Warmth, or Shelter and if we can help someone fulfil at least one criteria at the very minimum such as above that they are lacking then we are doing our jobs. We don't know what the future will bring, but call us psychic because we have known and felt for some time that things were going to get worse and we have been gearing up for this, however, this doesn't mean we are fully sustained. We have a few organisations who we absolutely adore and appreciate for everything that have done and are doing for us, those who are eager to help us sustain our motto (For the Welfare and Benefit of the People of Birtley), but we, ourselves, want to be able to do even more that will take us far into the future. If you would like to help us on our running cause, we absolutely appreciate every single donation we receive. (Please check 'Our Aid' tab for more info on Donations)
Not everyone is born with an equal amount of cards to deal, some are born into a disadvantage. No matter your background, your history, your family, your sexuality, gender identity, ethnicity, culture or your reasons why, remember that we are all humans. No human is undeserving of help, respect, care or compassion, and it may just be any of those things that help save people from steering down darker paths and anyone who walks through our doors is treated no different to how we would treat a friend.
I will write another blog post just before December hits, keep an eye out... but for now...
Have a great day
Song top pick for today: The Smiths - How Soon Is Now?