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Making Positive Change – Community Connections in North Angus

Posted September 17th 2019 by Derek Harper

Community Connections is a new project that is based in two rural areas in Scotland. It works towards improving social connections, information and communication for people living in and around these areas. It arose from the work of Rural Wisdom, which has been hearing voices of people in each community and helping them  get new developments underway. Rural wisdom was about the voices of older people but our new project is for everyone.
For this project, we’re thrilled to welcome two new Community Workers to the Outside The Box team. So, without further ado – meet Derek.

As a local boy, born and bred in Brechin, to the have opportunity of meaningful work as Community Worker for Community Connections, just shortly after I’ve just moved back home, was a dream come true. To be able to help build a sustainable future for the Brechin & Edzell area when so many positive things are happening is kismet at its best.

My career has taken an indirect route. I’ve worked as an architectural technician, pub, club and hotel manager, and community development worker for Eden Project Communities. Over the last six years, I’ve been getting stuck into community activity. I’ve been chair of Brechin Community Council, member of the executive committee of BRAVO for the Harley, Cartie and Xmas events in Brechin, steering group for Crowdfunding Angus and Participatory Budgeting. In May 2019, I was lead walker for the Eden Project’s Big Lunch Community Walk, which gave me the opportunity to visit amazing community projects right around Scotland.

All of this has given me great lived/worked experience to draw from, as we engage with the wider community across Brechin, Edzell and the Northern Glens. I hope we can nurture and create opportunities across the generations for community activity and strengthen social  connections for folk to get together maybe learn something new, share stories and have some fun.

I’m excited to share my ideas on how we can use old/new technology to get information across the community as to what’s on in the area, groups and clubs activities, services support and the many great events that happen in the region. Very soon, I will be looking for folk to assist with what info needs to be shared and how and where this can be done.

The simple act of volunteering to help an Easter in the City event in Brechin in 2013 started me on the path to my new career in Community Development. As well as building confidence and making many new lifelong friends, it boosted my confidence and self esteem.

To pay this forward, I will be highlighting the work of various groups across the region and where folk can take part in their activities and detail how folk can get involved in giving their time, skills and support which will enable the group to continue their activities. I plan to have an event very soon to showcase the amazing things our community groups are doing, enable them to build connections in the community and recruit some folk keen to help with activities.

I’m looking forward to hosting conversations in the community to address the concerns of great change that’s happening  and find a way where we, as a community, can work together to tackle those concerns and develop local solutions to ease us through this transitional time – in terms of technology, local politics and climate change – to try and be more involved in the decision-making that has an impact on our daily lives.

I very much believe in having a positive mindset, as this not only gives a feeling of optimism but by taking action, you make your own luck. By doing something different, taking a wee risk, by challenging yourself in trying something new, you develop your skills, self-esteem, confidence and create opportunities you will never have by staying in your comfort zone.

That’s where I am now in my life/career – ready to take what I’ve learned over my life and be part of the solution not the problem, to help build a better place where a high quality of life can be enjoyed by all. So if you want join me on this journey get in touch and share your ideas, skills, thoughts and concerns and lets start joining the dots to connect a better place.

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