OPINION: Making life better in different ways - Karen Weaver, Harrogate and District Community Action

As I’ve mentioned before in this column, I’m a big fan of the Action for Happiness movement, and in particular their daily tweets of bright and cheerful graphics and inspiring quotes.

Here’s a recent example; “The tiny moments of joy, especially now, can be really important in a person’s day” was accompanied by bright yellow smiley faces and led me to reflect that despite the relentlessly difficult news at the moment, there are always moments of joy to be savoured and appreciated.

Our role at HADCA is to support local charities and volunteers to make our district a great place to live and work.

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This means we learn about and witness the fantastic activities of a wide range of community groups and voluntary sector organisations across the area, all working hard to make life better for everyone in many different ways.

Whether supporting people at some of the most difficult times in their lives, looking after our environment or bringing people together to learn, celebrate, fundraise or perform, we are privileged to come across moments of joy all the time.

Over the last few weeks there has been a steady return to events and meetings in person. This has been both exciting and scary, as we re-learn how to interact at meetings in a room rather than on a screen, and chat to strangers at events.

We’ve got two new partnership projects getting underway this spring and it’s been great for our new members of staff Anna and Jo to meet colleagues in person as they get our active volunteering and City of Ripon volunteering projects underway.

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We’re thrilled to be working with North Yorkshire Sport, Community First Yorkshire, the National Trust, Nidderdale AONB and other partners on these long awaited projects; updates to follow!

There are many negative aspects to social media but it can also be great way to share good news and at HADCA we’re always on the lookout for positive community action stories to promote.

Just in the last week I found about the Harrogate Neighbours charity partnership with Crimple Food Hall to reduce food waste and provide quality hot meals to the community.

Harrogate Town AFC Community Foundation shared a video of their work with Resurrected Bites, Harrogate Foodbank, and Supporting Older People to deliver Christmas goody bags to people living alone across the District.

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Members of the Pinewood Conservation Group (pictured) carried out a huge litter pick and teamed up with the new Harlow Hill ‘Men in Sheds’ group who repaired their notice board in the Pinewoods.

All these stories have partnership working in common, and our two City of Sanctuary charities will be reaching out for assistance in a variety of ways as new refugee families start to arrive, whether from Syria and Afghanistan through existing programmes or Ukraine as result of the family and sponsorship schemes.

These hard working groups of experienced volunteers are working closely with the local authorities to ensure that everything is in place to welcome the new arrivals and that there is vital support for hosts as well.

This will be sensitive and challenging work, much of it carried out quietly behind the scenes, and HADCA will be sharing info about what help is needed and how best to offer support.

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If you would like to find out more about the local voluntary sector and HADCA why not come along to our next free online ‘Intro Session’ on Wednesday, April 27 11am–noon.

Sign up via www.hadca.org.uk and we promise you some tiny moments of joy!

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