The ‘C’ Word

Orange alphabet balloons forming the word community

As we come out of lockdown, get our Covid vaccinations and slowly begin to resume our previous lives, it seems appropriate to reflect on how our community has come together and supported each other during the pandemic.

The Funding landscape during 2020 has been quite rightly focussed on front line services, but we were really pleased to have been awarded funding recently by Helix Arts and the Arts Council for a two part project.

The project will be co-produced with Helix Arts as part of the ‘Common Connections’ programme. The Arts Council funding aims to provide targeted relief for older people to reduce isolation and promote a sense of belonging.

The first part of the project is inspired by a piece of writing by volunteer Sue Miller.

We aim to bring it to life by filming 40 North Tyneside residents each reading a line from Sue’s poem The ‘C’ Word to camera.

“Someone once said ‘Community is not just about being geographically close to someone or part of the same social web network. It’s about feeling connected and responsible for what happens. Humanity is our ultimate community and everyone plays a role.’

Arguably the strength of a community is measured by the extent to which its members show compassion towards each other, especially the most vulnerable.

North Shields has always been a community, a place filled with difference, people from every walk of life.

Back in the day the Low Road that runs along the Fish Quay was known as ‘The Street of All Nations’ because of the range of people that lived there from every corner of the globe and every possible religion.

The community included a Quaker Meeting House, a Jewish Synagogue, a Scandinavian Seamen’s Church and a thriving Catholic community.

Think of the diversity there must have been, the richness of different heritages, the melting pot of language, customs, cultures, appearances.

Wonder what it was like?
Was there tolerance of difference?
Did everyone matter?
Or did some people ‘count ‘more than others?
How did folk judge what was fair, what was right?
And did anyone get what they deserved?

Whatever our colour or creed, we each have a history, a story to tell that’s made us who we are. Never judge a book by its cover because we all matter. Sometimes it pays to be a little kinder.

We want everyone that takes part in this project to imagine what kind of world it would be if we could all, one day, accept and celebrate our differences, and do something as simple as holding hands and sticking together.”

The ‘C’ Word is a poem written by Sue Miller – taken from her book “Roar”

Here’s a little taster of The ‘C’ Word

The ‘C’ word warms and softens when we put it with a noun.
‘Cafes’ and ‘Choirs’ gain spirit we sense won’t let us down.
‘Police’ now less enforcers become social workers light,
A ‘Prison’ gets makeover, as does the ‘Housing Site.’
‘C’ word makes ‘Church’ seem open, a place for everyone,
And ‘School’ sounds much more friendly, a space to just have fun.
The ‘Garden’ has no gate on, the ‘Festival’ is free,
And ‘Library’ is run by the Big Society.
The ‘C’ word tells the world that where we live has heart.
And everyone is friendly, and we all play our part.

Sue Miller

If the last year has taught us nothing else, it’s taught us that ‘Nothing ever goes quite to plan.’

So enjoy these little out-takes from the first few residents we’ve filmed.

[The final piece will be captioned.]

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