Christmas may be quite different this year but the team at Community360 along with a host of organisations and partners still mean to show that Colchester knows how to have fun and how to bring people together.
A special Community Christmas Calendar, ‘From the Community with Love this Festive Season’ will be launched online on Tuesday 1st December and will showcase activities and events every day right up to and including Christmas Day.
The idea was born out of an idea by Kate Hardy, Engagement Officer at Community360 and Cathy Doyle, Community Enabling Officer at Colchester Borough Council. Originally starting out as a plan of bringing care homes together, a community particularly hard hit by COVID-19 with some fun and festive entertainment. But as the project evolved it was decided that the calendar should be extended to anyone feeling in need of some Christmas spirit this year, that it should be opened to the whole community, for everyone to join in and have fun.
Tracy Rudling, CEO at Community360 said: “It’s a fun, engaging, and inspiring way for everyone in the local area to celebrate together. Everyone has worked so hard to bring this all together in a very short space of time. Although the impetus and overarching aim behind the calendar is to develop and deliver a programme of actions and activities to help combat loneliness and isolation, its’ intention is to also improve mental and physical wellbeing and to keep people active and engaged too.”
She added: “The Calendar will showcase some of the wonderful businesses and organisations we have in the town and it will hopefully bring some festive cheer to people. Above all, we want to have fun.”
Although there are ‘religious’ elements, but this is a predominantly secular calendar. There are a diverse range of partners and individuals who have all contributed to the calendar’s development which includes particularly lovely contributions from SISTARS dance school, and a nativity play from St John’s Green Primary School, to a wonderful, old style murder mystery from local community theatre group, Black Dog Theatre Creations, Colchester.
Other local contributors include The Mercury Theatre who will be screening Cinderella and The Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds will be sharing their pantomime Peter Pan, plus lots of equally fabulous community-generated offerings which will be incredibly special.
Councillor Mike Lilly, Portfolio Holder for Communities, Wellbeing and Public Safety and said: “The digital Christmas Community Calendar is a fantastic community effort. It will bring festive cheer to many people across the borough this Christmas, including those who are more isolated.”
He added: “We are pleased to be involved in this excellent partnership project and we hope that people will share and enjoy these brilliant activities which showcase the work of talented individuals across Colchester.”
Sophie Garratt, North Essex Prevention and Enablement Lead at Sport for Confidence, deserves particular thanks for her successful bid for funding from Active Essex for boccia kits (a Paralympic sport suitable for everyone) which will be delivered to all Colchester’s care homes to start a boccia league, with league champions crowned on 24 December.
“The calendar is a real community endeavour” said Tracy. “From the bottom of my heart I want to thank everyone who has contributed to this, the response from the community has been phenomenal and would not have happened without their support. I would encourage everyone to get into the Christmas spirit and take part.”
Most events will be pre-recorded but there are also live events like the online Neighbourhood café which is scheduled for every Wednesday and the Boaz Project’s Christmas Party on 20 December. The Calendar launches on Tuesday 1 December and can be accessed by logging onto:
Panto Time at the Theatre Royal Bury St Edmunds