The Spaces of Hope Hubs Network in Stockport has been going from strength to strength. We have looked at how we can take responsibility as leaders in our community and be a catalyst for change. This gave us all a first step in creating, or ‘curating’ Spaces of Hope. Our second step is thinking relationally. This means that we think of others and how they might benefit from our actions. Thinking about relationships at this early stage in our process means that key ideas that ensure good health and wellbeing are at the root of our work and will show up in the fruit, too. This second session was hosted by a new hub on Petersgate called The Space. The Space is run by Disability Stockport and Nexus who set the venue up in Autumn 2017. The Space felt like the perfect host for a session about relationships because they have set up The Space with the purpose of hosting others, and bringing people together.
Now, our second meeting got off to a bit of a false start. We were due to meet at the end of February. The Beast from the East was raging and we decided to cancel our gathering. We didn’t just want to say ‘sorry no meeting’, though. Instead, we put ourselves in the shoes of people who might struggle with the weather and we sent out a guide on how to keep safe, warm and cosy and healthy. This guide was based on HYGGE. This is a Danish way of being, which helps to ensure we are happy and healthy, including good food, time together, leisure and rest after work. I was put on to this idea by Pam Robinson from St Matthew’s Church Edgeley, who bought me the Book of Hygge as a random act of kindness. In hindsight, we think we got the call to cancel right, based on one response we received: ‘That was the best cancellation email I have ever received’.
SOUP AT THE SPACE
In mid-March, we convened our gathering at The Space. There was some great hospitality from Aba from Disability Stockport and Nexus, as well as dynamic discussion and different ideas about Spaces of Hope as a framework and how Thinking Relationally worked as a principle to help us along with our work. Aba led by example. Aba shared soup with us, which had been made for an event hosted at The Space that previous evening. This made for a Hygge style experience within our group, which people were really touched by.
The offer of soup struck a chord with friends of Spaces of Hope from further afield too. One friend from Prague who heard about our gathering in Stockport suggested that our experience was like the Stone Soup proverb. The Stone Soup proverb talks about the role of an outsider coming to town, bringing to bear what they have in the service of others, and asking if others wanted to join him, for the benefit of all. The outsider brought a stone and a pot of water, which he put over a fire to warm. He then invited others that he met, in the different places that he went, to share space with him and to add something to the pot. Soon, there was a recipe brewing that was quintessentially of that place and the different spaces that made it up. The Stone Soup Proverb is a great way of describing what the Spaces of Hope Hubs Network can do for the people working in our communities. It can give them space and time to share the things that they love in a way that is complementary to the different things that others want to share. Plus it is healthy for us.
OUR RECIPE FOR SUCCESS
The time that we spent together prompted new and interesting dialogue. This dialogue told us that people want to make something that shows ‘respect for other’. Others see our job as ‘[not] to change people, but to give them hope’. A Spaces of Hope Network first timer said that ‘first and foremost it is about what’s in their head and sharing with people’. For others we are seeking ‘discovery’, offering ‘kindness’ and ‘being in the know’. We also heard that it is about ‘working together, not in competition’. These aren’t all the comments we received but hopefully this gives you a sense of their flavour.
SPACES OF HOPE
We finished the session by asking people that attended what they wanted from the network. We meant this in a really practical way. We wanted to bring the recipe to life. We wanted to know how we could serve people that were investing in the network, so that we are all able to build relationships, embrace our differences and look after each other.
These are the ideas that we were given, each of which we are going to put into action.
#SpacesofHope Twitter Hour – Monday 1900 to 2000 - this is a virtual space that we can share in, exchanging ideas, talking about what matters to us and looking at how we can connect to curate healthier, more hopeful communities.
Spaces of Hope Lunch - This is a gathering for people that are working in communities, based at hubs throughout our communities. We will share food and meet with no agenda. We will simply enjoy each other. Cat Duncan Rees – a friend of Spaces of Hope from Stockport Council and Think Local act Personal is arranging our first Spaces of Hope Lunch. We will get details out asap.
Spaces of Hope Coffee Morning – This is the same premise as the lunch. We will get the details to you as soon as we can for this.
Co-working Spaces of Hope – We know that there are lots of lone workers in Stockport. We know that there is a benefit to connecting, both in terms of improving our health, but also in terms of building partnership and developing great new work in the area. We want to see this grow but know that there are some key partners that need to be brought into the mix to give this a kick start. We will let you know how we get on.
Growing the Spaces of Hope Network - we currently profile a hub per month, by hosting a network event with them and sharing their work. We have been asked how we can profile more people and groups, because it will help us build relationships. We think this is a great idea. We are working on finding the best way to do this., so that it is community owned and peer led.