Communities to be knit together, to help boost inclusion
Northumberland Day’s organisers have issued a statement with regard to this year’s activity, regrettably having to postpone some elements but also taking the positive step of declaring that Northumberland Day will become the UK’s very first virtual county day.
The now annual county day celebration, which takes place at the end of May, had planned a 30-location ‘Parish Flag Relay’, with community groups, Scouts, Guides, Brownies, Northumberland National Park Mountain Rescue Team and many parishes and towns taking part. That is now on hold until 2021 but a host of other activities, which will bolster communities in isolation, are planned instead.
Northumberland Day will be supporting children, most likely to not be at school in the coming weeks or even months, with antics, competitions and stories relating to its adorable mascot, Northumbear and his friend NElephant.
Additional educational and fun children’s materials will also be provided at www.northumberlandday.co.uk where two existing education packs can already be downloaded, to help spark children’s interest in their county.
For the elderly – the age group likely to be most isolated – the Northumberland Day organisers have adopted an upbeat message of “Wool is our Thread”. They are asking individuals and companies to get involved with their ‘Knitting Communities Together’ initiative by either donating red and yellow wool or making a monetary contribution, so that wool in these colours can be bought and distributed to those isolated in their homes.
The idea is for those people, and those not in isolation and quarantine too, to knit or create something that can be displayed in their windows, or in their locality, and put up in situ on Northumberland Day itself, or in the week before, depending where it is displayed. This shared project will connect those able to get out, with those who, unfortunately, cannot.
This concept picks up on the inspiring activities of women in Seahouses, who last year formed an informal cooperative to knit red and yellow clothing. The organisers would like to see streets full of colour so that those isolated and at home can look out on something joyful and maintain a sense of belonging within a community that still cares and is still inclusive.
‘We would like parish halls, community centres and individuals who are happy to distribute wool, to get it into the hands of those who can become part of this shared celebratory task,” says organiser, Jane Hunt. “We do not want those most at-risk to be forgotten and we hope this will provide both an activity and a means of keeping in touch with those having to stay at home for what could be a long period of time. We are also calling on businesses to do their bit to chip in and help make this happen and, of course, anyone can buy a few balls of wool for their own use and be part of this shared initiative, aimed at keeping spirits high during the most difficult of times.”
To assist this exercise, Northumberland Day has already set up a ‘Just Giving’ page for its ‘Knitting Communities Together’ project at https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/wool-is-our-thread?utm_term=eVKyV5Ejn and hopes to start buying and distributing wool very soon, to those likely to be locked down in their homes for the foreseeable future.
It is also planning a virtual quiz – The Great Northumberland Day Public Quiz – which will be run online and again help bring the community together, without physical contact.
Photographs of people celebrating at home will be uploaded to Northumberland Day’s social media pages and the organisers already have Northumberland Day branded selfie frames – which can either be unbranded or branded and personalised to suit individual businesses or even families who all wish to pose together for a picture that could be sent to relatives elsewhere. These can be ordered right now, by anyone that wishes to play their part in the picture sharing programme.
In the longer term, Northumberland Day will be working with Golden Gate Boat Tours in Seahouses on a plan to create the very first Grace Darling Day, on September 7 – the date on which this national hero performed the rescue mission that made her so famous. Other Northumbrian heroes will also be celebrated over the course of the months ahead.
“Northumberland Day is all about communities pulling together and sharing in celebration and, just because we cannot do that at community parades, picnics, food launches or festivals, does not mean we cannot continue to bring people together. We just need to do things differently and make the most of what technology offers us,” says Jane Hunt.
“It has never been more important to reach out to each other through those means that will be safe and help us keep people buoyant through a sense of belonging and pride. We do not wish to see people cut off and isolated and we have the power to make sure that doesn’t happen, with everybody’s help and enthusiasm.”
The places to go, to keep in touch will be:
Northumberland Day would ask for lots of followers, on what are sometimes new channels and pages, so it can stay in touch with as many homes as possible during the current situation.