The ‘Together Fund’ launched when Virgin Media O2 announced their support for the Together Coalition in June. It will supercharge local charities that champion and celebrate the community spirit, belonging and togetherness across the UK. Environmental and community belonging projects have received grants of £1,000 to help inspire people to get together and create positive change for the causes they care most about. The fund is concentrating support to projects and initiatives that aim to either:
- Reduce loneliness and isolation and promote a sense of community belonging, or
- Inspire positive action to enhance and protect nature and the local environment
Following a shortlisting process, 400 small charities have received grants of £1,000, and Virgin Media O2 is also funding the Together Coalition’s ‘Community Connectors’ initiative by investing in 10 communities across the UK identified as areas of low social equity.
The funding, distributed by Neigbourly ahead of ‘Thank You Day’, will see charities and groups hold events and activities to bring communities together and give thanks to those who have supported others during the past year, building on the community spirit experienced during lockdown.
Events range from community choirs performing at care homes and BBQs in parks, to celebratory street parties and ‘tidy-ups’.
The grants for the 10 Community Connector initiatives are funding activity in:
- Bishophill, York: The community group, Bishophillbillies, is holding an event to recognise the remarkable actions of people who have gone above and beyond for the community during the pandemic. Activities include children’s painting, a self-guided local history walk, and the area’s new community café, Fairfax Corner, is opening its doors for the first time, which will be visited by the Lord Mayor.
- Drumchapel, Glasgow: Chest Heart & Stroke Scotland’s Drumchapel Health Walk which runs in partnership with Alliance Scotland delivered thank you cards to local businesses, and ‘Men Matter Scotland’ is hosting a Tartan Tea Party on Sunday, to celebrate and raise a cuppa in thanks to everyone in the community who has helped and supported each other over the last sixteen months.
- Leicestershire: People from different faiths who have been part of an online dining club will meet for the first time at a series of special events. They will be coming together to thank interfaith activists and recognise the dedication of key workers who put themselves at risk in the name of duty during the pandemic, with hundreds of communities and charities also marking the occasion. St Philip’s Centre, based in Evington, near Leicester, is holding a coffee morning, lunch and afternoon tea across three churches.
- Lostwithiel, Cornwall: Lostwithiel Community Centre is hosting an afternoon tea to honour those who put together more than 400 food boxes for vulnerable members of the community during lockdown.
- Neath Port Talbot, Wales: A new theatre production telling the legendary story of a Welshlabourer and coal miner will be commemorated with a flash mob at Aberavon beachfront. A series of events will also be held across Neath Port Talbot – all staged with the aim of thanking the team behind the show for “keeping history alive”.
- Norwich: Unpaid carers and volunteers across Norwich will be honoured by the Shoebox Community Hub by offering complimentary Castle Meadow and Tombland tours, charting the ‘hidden history’ of Norwich city centre
- Roe Valley, Northern Ireland: Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny and Mrs Trunchbull are teaming up as part of a ‘Covid catch-up’ by Roe Valley Residents’ Association. They are using the funding to allow residents to ‘catch up’ on all the sessions and celebrations they missed due to lockdown.
- Runcorn, Cheshire: A volunteer group is holding a community fun day to say thank you to those who have worked hard through the pandemic. Four Estates in Halton Brook is running a series of activities at Halton Brook Community Centre including walk-around magic, a disco, a puppet show, and the opportunity for people to hang a message on a Thank You tree. There will also be an additional event for pensioners, including an afternoon tea, bingo and an opportunity to chat.
There is also a wealth of activity taking place across the UK which are being held by the 400 charities which have received grants from the Virgin Media O2 Together Fund:
- Northern Ireland: There is an extensive line-up of events planned, including members of the Caritas choir singing outside of Meadow View Care Home in Enniskillen
- North West: The George House Trust in Manchester, an organisation which supports people living with, and affected by, HIV, is holding an event to celebrate and thank its volunteer ‘Telephone Buddies’.
‘Key Unlocking Futures’, a homelessness charity in Leyland, Lancashire, is holding an intergenerational project at its community centre, The Base, to bring older and younger people together. As part of the event, there will be a competition to nominate an elderly person who is deserving of an afternoon tea treat.
The Spinning Mill pub in Colne, Lancashire, is marking the ‘Cheers for Volunteers’ initiative by holding a fun day to celebrate volunteers who helped out during the pandemic.
- North East: In Gateshead, the Millennium Bridge will be lit up with rainbow colours as a message of thanks to mark Thank You Day.
Elly Hong from Hull has also been invited to the event after volunteering for the Hull Homeless community project to help young families move in to new flats. The young volunteer has also designed an awareness campaign on sexual harassment in the form of a short film which is now used in PSHE lessons.
- Yorkshire: Musicians from university music group, Lydro Again, are teaming up with children from Bruntcliffe Academy, Morely, to sing for residents at the nearby Knowle Manor Care Home. The group has been running ‘virtual’ sessions throughout lockdown and can now meet residents in real life for the first time. A BBQ will also be held by Barnsley FC’s ‘Reds in the Community’.
Like a number of other councils, Sheffield Council is recording videos thanking the local community and staff. A banner will also fly above H&M on the High Street, with a message of thanks to all the people of Sheffield.
Bradford Council will use the traditional white Yorkshire rose to send a message of thanks and allow for a moment of reflection. Handcrafted roses, each representing a sacrifice made in Bradford, will be passed to care homes, members of the public and key workers to thank them for their dedication to the community over the past 15 months. Real roses will be handed out across the district, each one with a message for the recipient, thanking them and encouraging them to thank others for their sacrifices.
- West Midlands: Locally, there is an extensive line-up of events planned, including a BBQ at St Philip’s Cathedral in Colmore Row, Birmingham and in Hanley Park, Stoke. Forest of Hearts, an organisation which creates community gardens, is holding a thank you event for its volunteers on Sunday, while Stoke-on-Trent organisation, Growing an Abundant Community, in Fegg Hayes, is holding an afternoon tea to say thank you to its community support team.
In Birmingham, the New Heights Warren Farm Community Project is holding a celebration and re-launch event with tea and cakes for the Kingstanding community. Additionally, inter-faith events will take place in Smethwick and Coventry to bring diverse communities together.
- East Midlands: A ‘Big Lunch’ street party is being held in The Mounts, Northampton, and multi-faith dining events are taking place at St Phillip’s and St Anne’s churches in Leicester. Local authorities in Northamptonshire are creating a virtual ‘wall of thanks’ on their websites while Nottinghamshire-based charity, Leon’s Legacy, is hosting an online quiz.
- East of England: Cambridgeshire-based charity, The Prospects Trust, is holding a ‘Survive to Thrive’ event, bringing together volunteers at Snakehall Farm for a socially-distanced, open-air tree planting and award ceremony for volunteers.
- London and the South East: There is an extensive line-up of events planned. The congregation from Trinity Church will sing for residents of Kettlewell House care home in Woking to celebrate connection and community, while school children and WI members will do the same for residents of Keswick Care Home in Great Bookham. Celebrity chef, Levi Roots is holding a BBQ for NCS participants and Scouts at Myatts Fields Park, Lambeth.
The original litter pickers, The Wombles, are holding a Thank You Day litter pick on Saturday at Wimbledon Common.
Football coach Eriona Mehmeti, from Pro Touch SA, will be coaching 7 and 8-year-olds at Whittington Park in London, with more than 100 children playing football on the main pitches in the community park.
London youth charity, Headliners, is holding a celebration event for its #OurVoicesBeHeard campaign, giving young people the opportunity to come together to share their voices.
Camden Council is using Thank You Day to tie in with the ‘We Make Camden’ community recognition campaign, to recognise those who have made incredible contributions to their community during the pandemic.
There will be the opportunity to create bird boxes from reclaimed materials at a community fun day being held by environmental charity Habitats and Heritage in Twickenham, when staff, volunteers and members of the community will come together.
Home Counties: Locally, there is an extensive line-up of events planned, including a thank you event held for refuse collectors and refuse centre workers in High Wycombe. The event is being organised by Sheerah Today, a charity with promotes a better understanding of Islam for the local Muslim community. The charity is organising thank you placards and will offer a treat for all the employees at the refuse centre.
South: BBQs will be held at The Mountbatten School in Romsey Southampton, while the Thomas Morley Trust, a Portsmouth charity which provides ocean sailing for disabled people, is using its annual ‘Round the Island Race’ to thanks its crew and volunteers.
Bournemouth recycling and reuse charity. Dorset Reclaim, is holding an outdoor picnic and BBQ to thank its volunteers for their continued work during the pandemic.
South West: There is an extensive line-up of events planned, including an online afternoon tea for volunteers who help out at Wye Gymnastics and Galaxy Cheerleading in Caldicot.
Taunton youth charity, ‘In The Mix Project’, will hold a celebration event on Sunday for its volunteers, local community champions and key workers.
Virgin Media O2’s strategic charity partners, Carers UK and The Climate Coalition, have also received additional funding to hold Thank You Day events:
Carers UK is running an all-day ‘Care for a Cuppathon’ virtual event to recognise and celebrate the efforts of 6.5 million unpaid carers who care for a loved one. The event will feature poetry, music and book readings, and all carers taking part will receive a complimentary cream tea.
The Climate Coalition will be backing young people who are leading environmental change in communities across the UK and shaping a new conversation on climate change, through support for their local innovative climate projects via their network of 140+ environmental organisations.