Friendship stories

Starbeck in Bloom are a group of 16 volunteers. Rebecca is sitting down front left

Rebecca’s friendship story

Rebecca Lund is a volunteer with Starbeck in Bloom. Rebecca tells us about the impact of the pandemic on their Bloom group in Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

We are a Britain in Bloom group of around 16 volunteers. Up to the start of 2020, we met on a weekly basis, mainly from April to October, to look after our little area of Harrogate for the benefit of the local community. This involved maintaining a number of planters and flowerbeds on our high street, as well as at our local railway station. We also made sure our area was clean and tidy by litter picking and sweeping.

“When the first lockdown began during the pandemic, we realised that it was more important than ever for us to keep up our activities.”

Our usual way of working had to change to fit in with government guidelines, so we moved to ad-hoc sessions, the number of volunteers involved depending on the rules at the time.

In order to plan these sessions, we set up a WhatsApp group for our volunteers. This had the added benefit of keeping the group together during this difficult time, resulting in great friendships being formed.

Volunteers maintain planters at their local station

Over the last three years the group has gone from strength to strength

“Everybody was supported with offers of practical help and also moral support with light-hearted banter and communal online activities such as quizzes.”

When we were able to meet up for small work parties, these were usually followed by a socially distanced coffee and chat, each person bringing a flask along to our library garden, an area which became the focal point of our group.

As a result of our continuing to work together during the pandemic, the team has become much more cohesive and we now consider ourselves a group of friends with a common interest, who can rely on one another for support.

“Over the last three years, the group has gone from strength to strength, and we have recruited a number of new volunteers who have also become friends.”

How to get others involved

Rebecca says that the group’s most recent volunteers have approached Bloomers when they are out and about or have contacted the group through their Facebook page. Rebecca thinks social media is key to show people what Bloom groups do and attract new volunteers.

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