Author: beestonia

Women, War and Writing

A catch up with local author Clare Harvey…

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I met local author Clare Harvey and her black Alsatian-cross Jake in Froth, which is part of the aptly named Creative Corner in Chilwell. I’d met Clare quite by chance at the re-opening of Beeston’s library in September. Clare has written three novels so far: The Gunner Girl, The English Agent and The Night Raid, with a fourth currently being penned. Her stories have all featured independent, strong women in a World War II setting.

I firstly asked Clare about her beginnings and how she got into writing. “I was born in Barnstaple, North Devon, but spent time growing up in Mauritius, as my dad worked at a teacher training college there. After some more moving around, I took a Foundation Course Diploma in art at Plymouth University, before reading law at the University of Leicester. After graduating, I took some temping jobs in London and then spent a year doing voluntary work and travelling in sub-Saharan Africa. On my return, I moved to the Peak District to work for an overseas development charity, and later returned to London to take a postgraduate course in journalism at the London College of Communication.”

She proposed to her soldier boyfriend Chris in 1996 in Split, Croatia during a 72-hour leave pass from his operational tour in Bosnia. The couple married in early 1998. They moved to Beeston, as Chris was posted to Chetwynd Barracks with the Royal Engineers, and Clare divided her time between an administrative job at Boots’ Head Office and freelance journalism. The couple were then posted to Northern Ireland for two years, where Clare worked as a freelance journalist. It was there that Clare began writing short stories, but she didn’t start work on her first novel until 1998 when they were posted to Germany and pregnant with their first child. “Being an army wife can be a lonely existence, and my writing became a kind of companion in the years when I was the trailing spouse to my husband’s military career.”

“…the revelation that my husband’s mum had been a teenage soldier in the Second World War was an inspiration.”

By 2011 Clare had three children, moved house seven times and written three unpublished novels. Finding herself back in Chilwell, with a husband about to go on a six-month tour in Afghanistan, Clare enrolled on a creative writing MA at the University of Nottingham. That’s when the idea for her debut novel came about. Her husband was polishing his medals ready for the Remembrance Sunday parade, when she remarked that he had more gongs than his dad. Clare’s husband was a third generation career soldier. He replied that his dad didn’t have that many medals, and that the joke in the family was that Mum had seen more enemy action. “How had I not known that my mother-in-law saw active wartime service? I was intrigued. Although she was sadly no longer alive, the revelation that my husband’s mum had been a teenage soldier in the Second World War was an inspiration.”

Whilst her husband was away on active duty, Clare used her MA as an opportunity to write the beginnings of what would become The Gunner Girl. Clare graduated in 2012, just after Chris returned from Afghanistan, and carried on working on the novel, alongside teaching English learners with Voluntary Action Broxtowe, and running art-inspired literacy workshops for primary pupils at Nottingham Lakeside Arts.

Clare finally finished her novel in early 2014, and sent it to the Romantic Novelists Association for feedback. They suggested a few tweaks. By October she had signed with an agent. Then in November she got her first two-book deal with Simon & Schuster. The Gunner Girl was published on the 8th of October 2015, with the paperback coming out three months later. She then had the hard job of writing book number two.

Clare had come across the story of Vera Atkins, who worked for the Special Operations Executive (SOE) during the Second World War, and had the idea that one of the characters from The Gunner Girl (Edie) gets the opportunity of becoming an SOE agent in France. “Setting the book there meant that I had to go to Paris for research purposes. This just happened to be around Valentine’s Day!” The English Agent was published last year.

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Clare’s third novel, The Night Raid, features lots of Nottingham locations including Bromley House Library and artist Dame Laura Knight as one of the main characters. It was published in July. There is going to be a very special launch for the paperback edition on December 14th. Clare will be officially launching the book at 11am with a ceremony on the ‘Dame Laura Knight’ tram at the NETtram depot, with help from pupils from George Spencer Academy. At 2pm she’ll be at Nottingham Lakeside Arts to talk about how Dame Laura helped inspire the novel and signing copies of her books (booking essential, via Lakeside Arts: 0115 846 7777). Then at 4pm, she will be more signings at Lady Jayne’s Vintage Tearoom, next to Toton Lane tram stop, where there will also be mulled wine and homemade mince pies on offer.

It’s always interesting to read about what routines authors have for getting their words down, so of course I had to ask Clare what hers were. “I manage to do about 45 minutes in the morning, before everyone else is up and then take the kids to school.  I’ll then usually work through, until its time to do the school run. I storyboard everything, like a film director does, and I always write in longhand, before typing it up on the laptop. I prefer to write in silence, but am happy to listen to music when I’m at the editing stage.”

Finally, I asked Clare about book number four. “It’s a two-timeline story. One takes place in Germany 1945 as the Red Army move in, and the Iron Curtain falls. While the other is set in 1989 in the UK and Berlin, as the Berlin Wall falls and the Iron Curtain rises.”  The Escape should be published in hardback next August.

You can find out more about Clare on her publisher’s author page: http://www.simonandschuster.co.uk/authors/Clare-Harvey/576635850

Her website: http://clareharvey.net

Or catch up with her on social media:

Twitter: @ClareHarveyauth
Facebook: ClareHarvey13

CDF

Creative Beeston: Not Another Coffee Shop in Beeston

Trading places…

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Here at The Beestonian we are always on a quest to find out what makes out town so special to its inhabitants.  The I Am Beeston project addresses this perfectly, with comments straight from the local’s mouths and a more recent mission ‘Buzzword’ the search and finding of a poem for Beeston, also revealed what Beeston represents to many of us.

We were rather more than a little bit thrilled then to find that a group of studious guests of Beeston, who came from Thailand back in 2007, made it their home for the duration of their studies and were so taken with the place they decided to create their own little bit of Beeston back in Bangkok. They describe Beeston as the ‘perfect home from home’ and the memories they shared of their time in our special little town clearly illustrate how inspired they were by their stay here.

“They have carefully crafted a ‘laid back and friendly’ venue where they serve up lovingly prepared home cooked food.”

I have been messaging an affable gentleman, who introduces himself as Ball, which is apparently a ‘Thai nickname’ but I am too polite to ask why. He says he found Beeston ‘comfortable and sincere’ then goes on to mention the joy of waking up with the sound of church bells, the friendly atmosphere and enjoying shopping in the local shops in preparation for a feast at a friend’s house. He also alludes to the Christmas lights and barbecues in the warmer months, in fact food features quite a lot in his recollections of his time here. Favourite hangouts were The Bean and The Last Post, he recalls being amused by seeing a friend strolling out of Ladbrokes, on one of his visits to the latter, whilst ‘relaxing on a cold day.’

Within this group of Nottingham University engineering and business students lay ‘amazing chefs, food lovers and a talented baker’ that delighted in producing ‘simple but hearty dishes’ to share and socialise around. This was a hugely important part of their life in Beeston and one they have taken back to Thailand with them. When they designed Beeston Café in 2016, their intention was to recreate all of their positive encounters. They have carefully crafted a ‘laid back and friendly’ venue where they serve up lovingly prepared home cooked food. Taking influences from their favourite places in Beeston, and other places in the UK, they have developed a menu which demonstrates their desire to share their wonderful experiences with their customers back in their homeland.

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Obviously curious, I typed ‘Beeston Café Bangkok’ into my search bar and eagerly awaited the results. What greeted my eyes was a slick website with visions of plump juicy grilled tomatoes and sizzling chicken, surrounded by lots of happy guests in a contemporary setting. The décor is just as sumptuous, a subdued palette with accents of exposed brick and industrial shelving occupied with gleaming glassware.  The Bean’s influence is most noticeable in the banners attached to the low barriers that mark the seating area outside the café but the menu is much more eclectic. For 230 Baht (around a fiver) you can get all day breakfast that would easily rival JD Wetherspoon’s and there are hints of some of their ‘pub classics’ too. I have to say though, I was most intrigued by the ‘Croissant Pudding.’ They do seem to have found many uses for this humble pastry, including cross breeding it with a waffle at some point.

With Menu Options such as ‘Fill My Belly’ I would be surprised if they hadn’t sampled the local takeaways at least once. Incidentally they do deliveries but since the last parcel I awaited from Bangkok was sent by slow boat, took three months and was mouldy on arrival, I won’t take my chances that they will be ‘filling my belly’ tonight. Each of the former students has their favoured UK dish on the menu and they take their coffee seriously. It is described by Ball as ‘debated to perfection.’

Set in Ekamai, Bangkok’s hippest neighbourhood, Beeston Café is tucked away down a small side street in an area full of cool coffee shops, pop-up bars and vintage shops.  According to Trip Advisor it’s where the ‘city’s well-dressed and well-heeled spend their nights sipping cocktails.’ They could be talking about our Beeston then, with its abundance of cool cafes, and its burgeoning night-time economy which has been driven by stylish bars like The Berliner and Rye then fortified by the recent opening of The Bendigo Lounge.

When I saw that Nottingham Post had run an article about Beeston Café a couple of weeks back I sent Ball a few more questions in a bid to add a bit of extra insight into this article. Unfortunately he didn’t quite round to answering them so I guess we will never know if he ever had his photograph taken with the Beeman, watched a wrestling match at The Victory Club or enjoyed an afternoon boating on the lake at Highfields. It is however, wonderful to know that the legacy of Beeston café culture lives on 5,934 miles away (according to Google) so kop-khun-kha Beeston Café!

You can find Beeston Café on facebook ,their website is www.beestoncafe.com. Be sure to expect the warmest of welcomes if you are ever in the area and you do decide to pay them a visit.

DU

Creative Beeston: Two for Joy

As Christmas approaches, I felt it would be terribly tardy of me not to give Beeston’s favourite magpies a bit of a shout out.

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Since opening their decorative doors in April 2016, Two Little Magpies up at Broadgate Shops have been serving us up a delightful selection of handmade crafts and original artworks supplied by local creatives. But that’s not the only reason we love them so much. Because of Lucy’s fondness for Beeston and the wonderful characters within it, Creatives Beeston’s Bee Creative project has been allowed to thrive and develop into the hugely successful community project it has now become.

Homeless, after The Candela Shop closed down in January 2016, the Bee Creative team were looking for a space to spend one evening a month indulging in a bit of craft therapy. We had some great evenings in the White Lion, Refan and The Star Inn, all of whom made us very welcome, but lacked the security and consistency that a regular spot could provide.  Loyal followers turned up eagerly but it was difficult to reach the people that were less confident to arrive in random places on an ad hoc monthly basis.

“During the two-hour sessions they are taught useful craft skills that we build on each week and they generally go home with something they are proud of.”

As soon as I met Lucy, she was keen to consider offering her shiny new studio space to us for our monthly craft sessions. She even suggested she arranged the first one for us, seemingly delighted at the chance to test-drive the studio. There was no charge but we set up a donation scheme so that she wasn’t out of pocket and this worked really well. People were as generous with their cash as Lucy was with her time and resources and we had a surplus by Christmas. We used the pot of money to provide refreshments and materials for a Mind Crafternoon, where donations were collected for the charity, and put together a pamper evening with fizz, nibbles and free craft activities as well as an opportunity for subsidised massage therapy.

Bee Creative moved to bigger premises this June, we are now at Middle Street Resource Centre, where between eight to twenty people gather every Monday night to create, de-stress and generally spend a couple of hours in the company of a great bunch of supportive people. During the two-hour sessions they are taught useful craft skills that we build on each week and they generally go home with something they are proud of.  Our collaboration with Two Little Magpies continues though. One of the original members of the craft group now works at the shop and has designed our new Creative Beeston logo, which will be revealed in the new year. And you can expect to see them joining forces next year in creating some community events.

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Two Little Magpies have since put together a comprehensive selection of fabulous workshops of their own that are proving very popular with the locals. As well as the instructed workshops in which you can craft some paper flowers or stitch yourself a Dorset button, Lucy has set up a few ‘drop-in’ nights where you rock up with your own projects for a bit of ‘Stitch and Chat’ or more amusingly ‘Smutty Stitch!’ The latter session is described as ‘not for the faint hearted’ and unsurprisingly the next one is fully booked! Who knew Beeston was full of such filthy folk?!

If like me, you love the independents in your town then please remember to shop local this Christmas. Leave the mass-produced tat on the shelf and buy something lovingly handmade from one of our many creatives. I don’t know about you, but it feels a lot better to know that your money is staying in the local economy and is more than likely sustaining one of the families in your community. What can be more wholesome than that?

You can find Two Little Magpies at 112, High Road , Beeston. For details of all of their crafty events follow them on facebook or check out their website www.twolittlemagpies.co.uk

DU

Beeston Highlights of 2017

We asked the users of Beeston Updated what their Beeston highlights of 2017 were:

“The highlight for me are the collection of 2017 highlights produced by this group.” – John M

“This was our first proper summer living in Beeston and the Beeston beach was a highlight for my boys! They loved it…in fact my little boy still points to the area and tells/signs to me it’s ‘gone’.” – Laura L

“The reopening of Beeston library. Fantastic job. All should use it.” – Jackie S

“The Awesome wrestling shows that happen at the Shed every month. Pushing 400 people every month now and they are CRAZY!!! :)” – Paul G

“Last Tuesday, I had a really good boiled egg.” – John C

“Oxjam, and Bartons putting events on again.” – Sophie O

“Totally Tapped opening!” – Louise S

“The bringing of our Community together at this year’s 12th BEESTON CARNIVAL. Big thanks to all that make this annual event possible! XX” – Lynda L

“The Proms in the Park fireworks bang outside our kitchen balcony were a pure joy moment for me. And the Canal Heritage Centre. I love the restoration and new life of an old building, the great community spirit surrounding it, the sense of history…” – Sarah G

 

Jai Verma: an interview

Beeston’s own Indian poet…

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Jai Verma is a Hindi writer who has been living in Beeston for 35 years with her husband. They both retired a couple of years ago after working in the NHS. Now, Jai likes to spend time with her family, but continues to be a key part of her community through her role as a writer and promoter of the Hindi language and culture. I met with her at her home to talk about her life and writing.

Her origins are in India, where she was born in Meerut. In 1971 she moved to the UK with her family where she taught Hindi for 15 years, and was involved in translating books from English to Hindi. Her other hobbies included badminton (which the also taught), tennis, and later on, golf. For a short time, she served on the committee at Beeston Fields Golf Club.

About her teaching, she tells me, “We didn’t have any material for children in the 80s. About 31 books were done. Then I was employed by the language centre in Nottingham for 6 months. I made a thousand copies each of all these books, then they were in circulation and children were reading those books.”

Once her children were leaving home, they encouraged her to pursue her own education. She joined Broxtowe College to study Business and Finance, then went to Nottingham Trent University and did an advanced diploma in Practice Management.

“After that there was a taste for knowledge,” she says.  “A hunger for knowledge, I wanted to learn more.” And she did, going on to do gain a post-graduate certificate in Service Management. This lead to her 25 years working as a practice manager with the NHS.

“I didn’t think of myself as a writer, never thought I was a writer,” she reveals. “I used to do paintings, and one day suddenly I wrote two poems. I remember it was very cold weather and we couldn’t go out of the house so I sat upstairs near the fire and then I wrote two poems.” She shared her poems with a friend, who she was a part of the Indian Women Associates with, and at one of their meetings Jai’s friend announced that Jai had some poems with her which she would then read aloud.

“I didn’t know what sort of quality my writing was. And I read them! Everyone clapped and were very happy. And someone said ‘why don’t you read it on the radio?’” That someone happened to know the radio presenter, and Jai ended up reading her poem ‘A Moment’ on air.

“Someone in Birmingham was listening and he knew us, and he rang.” He then asked if Jai attended any writing groups in Nottingham. But at the time there wasn’t any such group, so he invited Jai to Birmingham where there was a monthly poetry group she could join.

“Once I went there,” she says. “I had the opportunity to listen to other poets and writers, and talk to them. And they used to clap on my poems as well when I used to read. I didn’t know if it was good or bad, I had no idea, but that’s how I started writing and developing.”

The group encouraged her to keep writing, and to keep collecting her poems. Jai noticed that the people in the group were published and had their own books, and this inspired her to eventually put some of her poems into a collection. Her book was published in India in 2008, and called Sahyatri Hain Hum.

“It means we are the core traveller on this earth, no matter where we are, no matter where we live, we are the core traveller,” says Jai. Her book received two awards, one in India, and one here from the High Commission in London.

“Nottingham is at the heart of England, it’s the Queen of midlands.”

In 2003 Jai decided to set up her own group in Nottingham called Kavya Rang. The group was made up of Jai and two of her friends. “Today we have 27 writers. They’re writing in different languages of Asia. Four main languages: Hindi, Urdu, Punjabi, and English.”

Whilst continuing to write poetry, Jai began writing stories and eventually had enough for another collection which became Saat Kadam (Seven Stories) which was published in April of this year. It was first launched at The High Commission in London, and then at The White Lion in Beeston by the Mayor of Broxtowe.

“And the mayor, very jokingly said: ‘But I will not be able to read it, because it’s in Hindi.’ And then of course I thought it’s about time these stories should be translated into English.” These stories are currently in the process of being translated and Jai hopes eventually they will be published and reach a wider audience.

Speaking about writing inevitably leads to her mentioning how inspiring she finds Nottingham, especially with its title as a City of Literature, and all the opportunities this provides for writers.

“Nottingham is a wonderful place to live. I wouldn’t like to change it. I can’t think of any better place. When I came to Nottingham and used to go and see the houses I thought Beeston was very ideal Nottingham is at the heart of England, it’s the Queen of midlands,” she says.

She adds: “Beeston has got everything; it’s a very cosy type of shopping centre. Whenever I’m driving towards the A52 I feel good going home.” At this point she hints that she’d like to join Beeston’s Civic Society, believing that it’s good to be a part of the community.

We finish with Jai offering advice to young writers, which is: “Keep writing. Never judge yourself what sort of writing you are doing. Let other people enjoy it and make the judgement. You should not worry about what sort of writing you are doing, whether it’s poetry, stories, essays or articles. Just write it, and then see afterwards.”

You can find out more about Jai and her work via her website: jaiverma.co.uk

JM

The Twelve Days at Uni…

On the first day of Christmas my Uni sent to me: A nine grand tuition fee

(Imagine starting out with a 9 grand tuition fee…

…oh…and technically of course it’s the government that means we have the fees, but it doesn’t scan as well.)

But less of that grumpy stuff, ’tis the season to be jolly, so forthwith, a carol of our times:

On the twelfth day of Christmas my Uni sent to me:
Twelve student e-mails
Eleven impact pathways
Ten masters projects
Nine grant rejections
Eight Moodle mandates
Seven 4 star papers
Six weekends marking
Project xxxxxxxxxxxxx *
Four strategies
Three 9 a.ms
Two peer reviews
and a nine grand tuition fee.

Wishing you all an admin free Christmas and a grant filled New Year.

* feel free to include a 2 syllable project of your choice here.

Prof J

Jace Everett live at The Greyhound, Beeston 12/10/17

Music journalist Kev White from Derby pays his first visit to The Greyhound…

This guy was a complete revelation for me. I only knew Bad Things from the hit TV series True Blood and was wary when he was described to me as a country musician (I am not a Country fan). As an open-minded music journalist I went to the gig and was hooked right from the opening number.

The set was largely made up of songs from the brilliant new album Dust and Dirt. Highlights of the set included Woke Up In This Town, Green Or Blue, Under The Sun, Someplace, Golden Ring and Lowlands. The band were Everett on vocals/acoustic guitar and Dan Cohen on electric guitar. They have worked together for years and it shows.

During the set Jace broke a string on his guitar and soon realised that he had left his spare guitar strings back at the hotel and then introduced the eleven string orchestra playing the remainder of the set on his now five string guitar. What a trooper! He also spoke of his battle with depression and the fact that he is now on medication before playing the powerful yet humorous The Drugs Aren’t Getting It Done.

Everett made light of the fact that he is known as a one hit wonder and introduced A-ha’s Take On Me as the next song but actually launched into Bad Things to the warmest reception of the night. The gig ended with the dark and dramatic One Of Them.

The Greyhound is due to close next month, which is another nail in the coffin of small music venues. It is these venues that are the life-blood of the live music scene and they should be supported.

Jace Everett is a great musician who writes fantastic songs. He is a brilliant live performer and a really nice, down to earth bloke. Keep an eye out for his next visit to the UK and go and see him. You will not be disappointed.

Kev White

 

Let’s Go To Beeston – Again!

 

Most Beestonian’s will recognise the logo for ‘Let’s Go to Beeston’ which was previously part of the Beeston BID campaign, and ran from 2010 – 2015. The management of the website is now being taken over by Beeston Community Resource (BCR) which manages Middle Street Resource Centre.

The handover officially took place at the resource centre on October 5, and the Let’s Go to Beeston site and related social media are all in the very capable hands of a group of volunteers at Middle Street.

LGTB used to receive funding but is now a charitable free service and is supported by Voluntary Action Beeston and Citizen’s Advice Bureau. Previously, the focus was very much on the centre of Beeston but now they are keen to involve the wider community, especially with the recently opened Canalside Heritage Centre in Beeston Rylands.

The new partnership is ideal, and is providing  not only the volunteers with something to put their skills to good use, but also to raise the profile of LGTB again and further benefit Beeston as a town and as a community.

There are over 70+ volunteers at Middle Street, which began life as a Nottinghamshire County Council Day Centre for people affected by mental health issues. Today, the centre is still supportive of people with mental health issues, and a lot of the volunteers have experienced and still experience such issues as part of their everyday lives.

By teaming up with Let’s Go to Beeston, it gives the volunteers the opportunity to put their skills into practice and give them something to work on which benefits them and the community of Beeston. As the management is mainly web and social media based, those with IT skills such as Karen will be able to contribute plenty to the online presence.

Karen spoke at the launch about the relationship between mental health and the online world, particularly the impacts of social media. She pointed out that adults who don’t use the internet can become socially excluded, so becoming familiar with IT is important for communication. Despite the negativity that can arise from being on social media, she emphasises that “it’s about how human beings use [IT and social media].”

Karen will be part of the admin team for the website, and will work to “develop friendlier, kinder social media” as well as making sure that the website becomes a resource that is “run by the community for the community.”

Colin, another volunteer, has been supporting Middle Street for 2 years now. “It’s a fantastic space for people to come, talk, get support and learn,” he says. “I’m really passionate about Beeston.” He is currently studying computing and system development which has come in handy while working on the Let’s Go to Beeston website and he hopes that it will “help people see all the good things that are going on and showcase the very best of Beeston.”

Although the website is still a work in progress, there are already plenty of resources on there such as a community section, Beeston News and a business directory which needs the help of local people to keep it up to date as new businesses come into the town, and others leave. This community input is something that the team are keen to incorporate. Colin calls for local photographers to send in their photos of Beeston to contribute to the website and celebrate Beeston in the most visual way possible. As well as this, he wants residents to let them know what your Beeston news is, and if you’ve got an event there will soon be a dedicated events calendar so people know what’s going on.

Linda Lally was also in attendance at the launch, and says: “My knowledge of Beeston and Let’s Go to Beeston comes from previous involvement. When Steph [Marketing Manager at NET] came to see us there was a good opportunity for Middle Street, for people, and volunteers. I will use my expertise to engage with volunteers to give them confidence and self-esteem.”

There are also a few other developments arising from the re-launch of the website, which wants to take advantage of the 40,000 people who continued to engage with the site last year. The website and its ethos is ‘worth preserving’ and is a platform which can help in terms of submitting proposals for new things around the town, and is a good place to share points about what the community think Beeston could benefit from having or doing.

They’ve got a newsletter which can be found at Middle Street, which is the place to go for anyone who wants to talk with the volunteers working on the site. The next two weeks will see the centre hosting various events for Mental Health Awareness Weeks, and they’ll have an open day next Monday from 2-7pm, which people are encouraged to attend and get involved with.

All in all, the Let’s Go to Beeston website can only be a positive thing for the town and the volunteers working to make it the best it can be, and to provide an online space for residents of all ages and backgrounds to keep up to date with what’s happening.

You can visit the website at: http://www.letsgotobeeston.co.uk/

New Social Media app ‘Nextdoor’ arrives in Beeston Rylands

Greetings Beestonites, I hope you are all managing to pack in a few last minute events before the end of summer! I for one have been preparing for some down time before the autumn events rush.

Needless to say, just because I wasn’t socialising outwardly, didn’t mean that there hasn’t been some worthwhile social activity going on. I decided to mingle in cyberspace and i found online social network called Nextdoor. The site originated in the USA and to date Nextdoor is available in 50% of the neighbourhoods within the UK. Beeston happens to be one of them.

It is clear this social media platform is gaining momentum. Its mission statement to connect people in real-time, that live nearby, is a massive plus point.

I, like many other young professionals, have had to live in the land of fixed term contracts and as such, have been granted a new address almost every other year. Facebook is loaded with friends (BIG emphasis on the inverted comma’s there) from various locations and life chapters from far and wide. It is a nice platform to say hi to distant acquaintances but I realised that since moving back to the Rylands two years ago, I didn’t actually know that many people in the area anymore. I was feeling physically and psychologically exhausted with travelling around to different cities to visit people all the time. I decided to give this media platform a go in the hope that I would be able to connect to more people nearby and get to know my local area a bit better. I know I want to become more integrated into my local area and I don’t think I am alone.

Frequent relocations are the type of social situation that leads to the fragmentation of communities. As people become more transient, they become more isolated and stressed. I know myself it is hard to feel integrated, and the exhaustion that sets in from frequent moves is also a factor that limits initiation of meaningful social contact.  Research conducted at the University of Birmingham and other reputable establishments have demonstrated the importance of community factors within the neighbourhood. Recently the NHS has recognised loneliness as a legitimate public health problem, and it’s on the increase. The Issue of loneliness was perceived to be limited to elder populations, however published statistics demonstrate that increasing numbers of younger people are feeling isolated.

After registering with the site, you are then connected with people living within your area. This is just like any other social media platform, except it works on a local level, within your specific neighbourhood. You can do anything from; gifting free stuff (good for gardeners as a lot of plants have been exchanged), buying and selling, asking for advice or recommendations on local tradespeople, places to do/ source things, promoting local events, finding out who the local Avon lady is, and seeking advice on practical home matters.

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One of the main differences between this and other social media sites is that this site is more about getting things done, as opposed to random acts of self-expression. Moderators are on hand to remove any post that is defamatory or inappropriate, rendering this a safe and supportive space to operate online. Unlike other apps, if you sign up to something new, your contact list isn’t imported and automatically available. If you know someone that lives nearby you need to invite them to join (if they aren’t already on the website). You can invite people by a direct invitation online, or you can have a postcard sent to them via the post, free of charge. The low-fi method of expanding the network is straight forwards and quite charming.

You can manage your privacy settings so that you can have a presence on the site without personal info such as; full address, phone number etc. being available for all to see. You can also choose to put a picture up if you fancy but this isn’t mandatory. All the other features of a regular social media site are available. There are; noticeboards for various areas of interest, a private message function, a notifications function and a categories tab in which communications can be assigned based on their topic.

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I found that using this site, did actually lead to some productive real-life interactions. I met a gentleman that was gifting some free plants, and I went to meet him and his wife. I was expecting a quick pop in, pop out type scenario but instead I spent a good portion of the afternoon in their back-yard amassing as much gardening advice as I could. I have also used the site to shift some free stuff that I had to offer and also posted requests for advice on tradespeople.

One upcoming campaign is the “Share a Cuppa” campaign. This is aimed at encouraging neighbours and members of the local community to take the first step and go for a cup of tea with their neighbours. I for one will be taking part in this campaign once it is launched. I may even write about my experience here. Watch this space people!!!

The Nextdoor social media app is free of charge to use and is available at www.nextdoor.co.uk .There is also an app based version of the platform for Android and iPhone users which can be downloaded from the ‘Play Store’.

DB

OXJAM: Beeston Takeover

A date for your diary: Saturday 14 October

We’re just a couple of weeks away now from arguably the biggest cultural event in Beeston: the seventh Takeover, part of the Oxjam Beeston Music Festival 2017, in aid of OXFAM.

THE VENUES: this year Bartons is back IN (three stages!) and our headline sponsor is the award-winning ‘Star’. We’ve got some new venues too: The Berliner,Totally Tapped, Beeston Library and Rudyards, along with many familiar Oxjam spaces such as Rye, Malt Shovel, Bean, Greenhoods, Pottle o’ Blues, The Crown, The White Lion, The Hop Pole, Middle Street Resource Centre, Chilwell Methodist Church and Beeston Parish Church – 20 in all!

THE MUSIC: as ever, the great mix of styles and genres you have come to expect – and then some! Everything from nice, gentle acoustic folk, singer-songwriters, blues, Americana and ‘covers’,  to Indie, folk-rock, DJs, rock and punk plus choirs and ‘Operatic Arias’.

THE COST: this has got to be the best value anywhere in the area: you pay NOTHING to wander into a coffee shop or bar in the afternoon (but please make a generous donation: you won’t miss our volunteer collectors). For the evening (after 6pm) we’ve kept it to £8 if you buy in advance of the day (£10 on the day). Buy your advance tickets at Oxfam Books and Music on Beeston High Road or The Guitar Spot on Chilwell High Road. The ‘Operatic Arias’ event in the evening at the Parish Church, is separately ticketed – pick these up from Oxfam Books and Music or John Kirk Hi-fi (for a tenner or less if you qualify for a concession). Tickets for both, along with the Classical Oxjam concert (11 November) and the Oxjam Ceilidh (24 November) can also be bought on line at wegottickets.com (there is a 10% booking fee).

THE SPONSORS: We are delighted to have some excellent sponsorship support this year, especially our headline sponsor, CAMRA LocaAle pub of the year The Star’, and ‘stage sponsors’ C P Walker, Estate Agents, NET (Nottingham Express Transport), the University of Nottingham and Foster Industrial. Others include PN Design and The Breeze. We also have a sponsorship grant from Cllr. Kate Foale (Nottinghamshire County Council ‘Divisional Fund’). Small local businesses and organisations, or individuals, might consider becoming a ‘Friend of Oxjam’ for a donation of £50 or more. You get one free wristband for the Takeover so you COULD decide to ‘spend’ a generous fifty quid for your ticket and earn a ‘Friend of Oxjam’ sticker or certificate to display on your social media or premises. We’ll also credit you on our website.

THE MONEY: the volunteers and all artists, plus many sound engineers, take part for nothing; sponsorship covers our publicity, some unavoidable admin costs and some hire of equipment, so you can be sure that EVERY pound you spend on tickets or put in our collecting tins goes straight to support the magnificent work of Oxfam. You can have a great day and know you are helping a fantastic charity. That’s ‘win-win!’

For more details, to contact us  and get up-to-the-minute news of the programme, go to oxambeeston.org or our Facebook page.

CT