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Voluntary groups support each other in new network

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THE Melksham Community Groups network held its first meeting in mid-March.

Over 30 representatives from groups, clubs and voluntary organisations met to discuss how to support each other in plans for emerging from lockdown.

The network, set up by Melksham Town Council, is a way to share skills, advice and information between the many groups that provides services, activities and crucial social connections for people in Melksham. 

David McKnight, the economic development manager for the town council, gave a presentation on promotion and publicity for organisations, which was followed by a discussion in break out rooms on how groups can promote and support each other in this unusual time.

The town council reports, “The chance to reflect on the past year of lockdown was welcomed. While event organisers were frustrated at having to cancel, and a lot of groups couldn’t meet at all throughout lockdown, it was recognised that extra effort had been made to stay in touch with members and, although apart, people still felt connected to each other. 

“A common theme was the need to adapt, and several groups like Link, Wiltshire Mind and the Melksham Shed club were able to continue by modifying their ways of working in order to provide their valuable services.  Other groups delivered meals, goody bags and activity packs as additional ways of reaching people when they were unable to meet up.

“While the move online has been a challenge, in many cases it has made things more accessible, even increasing attendance of meetings and virtual events. There has been a lot of progress in using technology to stay connected, but it is important to make the extra effort to include those without the internet. 

“The face-to-face meetings are still badly missed and groups are looking forward to ways to meet up again safely when restrictions allow. What shone through in all discussions was the incredible community spirit in Melksham, and the positives of being part of such a community minded town.”

Amanda Wilkes, from Help Counselling, said, “It was beautiful to see so many organisations talking with such passion about what they do. I was very pleased to be part of that.”

Barry Scarlett, from Melksham Community Money Advice, said, “The initial Zoom meeting of Melksham Community Groups was extremely worthwhile. It gathered likeminded people from Melksham seeking to network, all of whom are passionate about what they do. 

“It just confirms what a great community spirit there is in Melksham. Hope and encouragement are the key words which starts with our local community development officer Miriam Zaccarelli.”

The first meeting was the start of a series of regular meetings of the network, which is open to anyone involved in the management of any kind of voluntary group, club or charity in the Melksham area. 

If you or a member of your organisation would like to be added to the network, please let the town council know by emailing: miriamzaccarelli@melksham-tc.gov.uk


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