For the last three years in Herne Bay’s magnificent memorial park, local community groups and organisations have come together to showcase the brilliant work they do, and to get to know their community through games and activities. Initially devised and organised by People United as a finale to We All Do Good Things, this has been our most successful legacy group to come out of that project. This year over 1500 people came along to the picnic, armed with blankets, and tasty food, and ready to soak up the atmosphere of the event. It is a community event with a difference: all the groups that run a stall must do something interactive and get people involved.
The aims of the picnic have been quite simple: to bring people who wouldn’t normally meet together (from different parts of the community); to encourage volunteering and engagement by promoting local arts, voluntary and community organisations; and to have fun! Importantly, all the activity is free to make it accessible and picnic-goers are made to feel as welcome as possible.
The picnic gathers a sense of feeling proud about where you live, of neighbourliness and a shared feeling of community. So what could you expect? Opportunities to have your poorly plants examined by Beltinge Gardeners, to have a go at fencing with the Herne Bay fencing club to sewing heart-shaped cushions for breast cancer patients – all were available for the intrepid picnic-goer: it was all about doing something and having conversations with people who you might not have met before.
And then there was the entertainment. This year, a flash-mob choir (Rock Choir) sang out amongst the crowd, getting up from their picnics to sing ‘Dancing in the Streets’, following with a super 25 minutes of singing. A local dance troupe and U-Zambezi got people up dancing in the beautiful sunshine. Oh, and don’t forget the folk dancing, street theatre, ice-cream, football, zombies, and reuniting a little boy with his lost teddy bear.
It was really delightful to watch something created for We All Do Good Things grasped by the hands of local people to make it a truly collaborative, community event. It was so fantastic to watch Colleen from Herne Bay in Bloom – the main organiser – walk around the picnic she had spent so much time arranging alongside the brilliant Rotary, Canterbury City Council and Inner Wheel amongst others. The pride and enjoyment written all over her face said it all.
And what did People United do this year? We wanted to get people thinking about the meaning of life and what meant the most to them. We also wanted to get people thinking about the folk who they look up to in life. We wanted to create a place where people could play games, eat cake, talk and think – so we took plenty of bits and bobs from the office and from our homes, and we created a cosy sitting room. Children and adults played chess at a coffee table, the Herne Bay princesses contributed to completing the Where’s Wally jigsaw puzzle, and families ate cake and chatted about the meaning of life by the bookcase and standard lamps. A pop-up exhibition grew as children added pictures of their role models to the bunting decorating the gazebo.
We had a brilliant day and would like to thank and congratulate the organisers on such a super event. We look forward to next year’s….
P.S. The answer to the meaning of life? Here are the words used by people in Herne Bay…
Family, Family, Family, Family, Family, Family, Family, Family
Love, Love, Love
Trust, Trust, Trust
Fun, Smile, Want, Friends, Faith, Behave
Fantastic, Brilliant, Laughter, Teddies, My bunny, Teletubbies, Jesus, Contentment, Caring, Mum & Dad, Swimming, Disney, Being Happy