Guest blog by Niamh Scullion, Eden Project Communities
Applications are now open for the Eden Project Community Camps in Cornwall in September and November 2019 with 12 places available this year for people from all areas of Northern Ireland.
The camps include all return travel to Cornwall, accommodation at Eden Project site, delicious healthy food and a variety of engaging activities, all free of charge to participants thanks to support from the National Lottery.
Camp participants can look forward to three days of inspiring talks, workshops, engagement activities and story sharing with around 60 other community activists and organisers. These can have a life-changing impact on some people as many of our past participants have attested:
Hugh Hegarty from Derry visited the community camp in November 2018 and subsequently set up MENd, a mental health initiative for men in Derry. Hugh said “I must say that all I had been previously told about how good the camp was still didn’t properly prepare me for what I experienced. I loved every second of it, from making new friends from all areas of the UK to learning do much about other aspects of community projects as well as the training we received. Undoubtedly one of the best weekends I’ve ever had.”
Eileen Chan-Hu from Carryduff, Co. Down said “I went to the camp of April 2016 and met many great people from across UK. We still keep in touch today! I had great times learning from each other and the joys of community spirit at such an inspiring place. Eden Project helped to facilitate our thinking and keeping us motivated to always know we can help each other, no matter if it was a small or big project. To imagine, visualise and return from our visit, inspired. Since then at South Belfast Lantern Parade, we keep going each Christmas, the loneliest time at the year for some to have a lantern parade in the park.”
Alison Torrens from Portstewart in Co. Derry attended the Eden Camp several years ago in 2013. She said “It was a truly wonderful experience and I was inspired by a host of amazing community driven ideas and events taking place throughout the UK. An awesome place to explore.
Lee Robb, from Carrickfergus in Co Antrim attended in 2016. She said “The Eden Project community camp was a life changing experience that helped me find my purpose and, I believe, make a real contribution in NI.”
Rosie Finnegan-Bell from South Armagh said: “My visit to the Eden Camp in September 2019 was simply one of the best things I’ve ever done. It really motivated me and helped me crystallize my idea for a community based project. It also helped me to build the confidence to put myself out there to bring the idea of our South Armagh Lace Collective project forward. We are thriving as a group now and have achieved so much in such a very short space of time. We’ve had to think outside the box as we had no funding. But the persistence that I heard people talk about at Eden paid off. The group has become a wonderful reason for us to come together as a community and is a wonderfully diverse group of people of all ages and abilities. I have no doubt that this wonderful group would not exist if it hadn’t been for the Eden Camp. It was a truly wonderful opportunity to meet some of the most innovative, creative and inspiring people. I have made friends that I know will be friends for life. I am indebted to Eden for this and much more.”
Mary McCoy from Dromore, Co. Tyrone said: “Attending the Eden Project was an inspirational experience for me and as a result it catapulted me into working more with my local community of Dromore, Co. Tyrone and encouraging others to get on board to improve our town and get our whole community working together. Very worthwhile and insightful!”
The camps provide opportunities to link in with a network of more than 1000 community organisers across the UK to share ideas, inspiration, and experience, and to re-energise your community project and yourself. The camp attendees usually include Big Lunch organisers, community walk organisers, litter pick organisers, community gardeners, environmental activists, people working to promote diversity, inclusion and equality, civic pride projects, fundraisers, and an array of other community projects. Anyone who is bringing their community together in a voluntary capacity to create positive social change is encouraged to apply. The application is very short and simple and should take no more than 15 minutes to complete.
There are two camps open for application, the first runs from Friday 20 until Monday 23 September and the second camp runs from Friday 22 to Monday 25 November. Applications will be assessed throughout the summer until the places are filled. Those received in July will have the best chance of acceptance.
Camps are specifically for people volunteering in their community or who have set up Social Enterprises or Community business who are hoping to take their project further, looking for inspiration, or be part of a growing network of community activists.
Eden Project Communities also has follow-up events, training, and networking opportunities and a national event for network members each year, so once you’ve attended one of these camps, you can stay connected with even more network members.
For further media information, photo-shoots, interviews and other enquiries, please contact Niamh Scullion on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07850 914533