The Barking Grow Club is used to meeting up in person every Friday, using gardening as a way to bring people together. One of the aspects of these meet-ups is a refreshing cup of tea, made using plants grown by the Club to aid with health and wellbeing.
Unfortunately, these meetings have had to stop because of coronavirus so they explored ways that they might still be able to come together and sustain the Company Drinks community. Not all of the members use video calls so, while that has been a solution for many, it wasn’t right for them. They then wondered if they could find a way to use that weekly cup of tea to encourage people to take a break…
The idea was to continue cultivating and harvesting teas which would be useful to members during this stressful time, before packaging them up and sending them out. Alongside the tea would be little information packets about what went into the tea, the benefits that these had, and space for members to write about their feelings as they enjoyed their brew. As they put it, they wanted ‘Company Drinks group members to take 10 minutes out of their day to think about how they feel, to enjoy a healing cuppa and to learn something new about herbs and flowers.’
They came to us and asked for £1,100 to try their idea out for about 12 weeks. Usually, we would have this conversation in person but we had to rely on the telephone in this case – in less than half an hour, I had got all the information I needed for the Trustees to make a decision. The application was reviewed at our fortnightly meetings and approved.
Once funding has been agreed, I work with applicants on shaping an agreement between us – we want to learn from the people we fund, which means finding out what they want to learn and how we might support that. It outlines our responsibilities to each other and is a reflection of our relationship.
As a funder, we recognise that we hold a lot of power and people will not want to challenge us if they think it might cost them their grant. We focus on building relationships with our community because people need to feel that they can trust that they won’t be punished for pushing back on us.
The money will pay for all the supplies needed to safely grow, package and post the teas, as well as paying for the time of the people who are not only doing this work but keeping in contact with members on a regular basis.
It shows quite nicely what it is possible for less than £100 a week. As an existing organisation, Company Drinks has existing resources and experience to draw on but if they didn’t, they could have asked for additional support from us.
The same goes for you and your community. People should feel able to ask for what their idea needs, not what they think will get funding. If you’ve got an idea but don’t know how to budget for it, we can help with that as well.
As of posting, the project is in its third week of posting out packages and the response so far has been very positive – members still feel involved in their community and have been eager to share their responses to the care packages. We’re looking forward to hearing from this community and finding out from them what they thought about this project, and if there’s anything that we can do to help them build on their experiences.
You can find out more about the project as it develops in their own words here.
If what you’ve read here has sparked an idea for something you could do with your community, please get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org