From sampling the local cuisine to connecting with the community, it’s time to venture out into your local area and unearth some hidden gems
For many of us, our sense of connection with our community has grown over the past year, and looking at what we have locally can help us appreciate where we live, boosting our wellbeing, and helping us feel closer to the people and places around us.
As restrictions hopefully continue to ease, taking advantage of our hometowns is a great way of getting out into the world again. And even as life gets back to normal, the sense of togetherness that many of us nurtured in lockdown is something we should hold on to. Here, we explore ways you can deepen that connection and carry it forward as we emerge from the other end.
1. Discover local history
No matter where you live, there will be interesting history to discover. I love learning about my local history in Stoke-on-Trent. Finding out how the famous ceramics industry has shaped the development of the area made me better appreciate why ‘Stokies’ obsess about pottery (and why The Great Pottery Throw Down is filmed here).
Is there an interesting custom in your hometown you’ve always wanted to find out about? Or are you curious about the people who lived here before you? Your local museum is a great starting point. Some have developed fantastic online resources, so even if you can’t visit in person, you can still discover local history.
You can also look for local heritage trails. These are self-guided walks you can do that visit local sites of interest – from unique sculptures to historic buildings. Try Googling the name of your town along with the words “heritage trail” – many councils and tourism boards provide these free to download. Or, search by area on treasuretrails.co.uk, where you can discover and buy local trail guides to get you started.
2. Celebrate the local cuisine
From Cornish pasties to Cartmel sticky toffee pudding, it’s likely there are foods linked to where you live. Try something new by cooking up a feast that draws on food associated with your region. Is there a market near you where you can buy locally-sourced produce? Restrictions permitting, you could invite friends and family over to enjoy this meal together. I like introducing friends from outside the area to oatcakes, which are a Staffordshire delicacy similar to a pancake, but made with oats. They’re cheap and easy to make, and always well-received!
“No matter where you live, there will be great places on your doorstep to discover”
3. Check out local events
Talks, performances, workshops, and other events offer a great chance to learn something new, have fun, or meet others with similar interests. This could be a fascinating public talk run by a university, or a virtual am-dram performance by local actors. Events listing websites like wherecanwego.com are a good for finding what’s on.
What about trying something that draws on your local culture? For me, that’s involved signing up to a beginner’s online pottery class with wea.org.uk, which has a variety of courses available across the country. It’s an activity that draws on the area’s ceramics heritage, and is an opportunity to learn a skill.
Volunteering is a great way to get involved in your community, and do-it.org is a useful resource for finding both in-person and remote volunteer opportunities, or if you have a specific place in mind, get in touch with them directly.
Another way to get involved in your community is by connecting with others with similar interests. One of my highlights of the past year has been attending regular virtual meetups for local artists. This has helped me make new connections and appreciate the people in my community. Maybe there’s a creative or cultural project you can get involved in as a volunteer or participant? Or if you love the outdoors, is there a community group that looks after a nearby nature reserve or country park and would value your input?
5. Be a tourist
Take time to explore the local area with the same curiosity you would when a tourist elsewhere. Do that amazing woodland walk you’ve always wanted to try, or plan a visit to that National Trust or English Heritage garden just down the road. No matter where you live, there will be great places on your doorstep to discover.
To connect with a life coach or discuss ways that you can work on your own mental wellbeing, visit lifecoach-directory.org.uk