Stitching Hearts Together: The Inspirational Journey of The Junction Community Group, Hedon
Smile's Community Insight Worker, Abi Olayanju recently visited The Junction in Hedon, to meet up and chat with members of a voluntary group who use this community space once a week. Here's what he found.
In the heart of Hedon, a small and tight-knit community was forming its own unique tapestry of connection and kindness. The Junction Community Group at the Hedon Methodist Church was much more than just a weekly gathering; it was a beacon of hope, a haven for those in need, and a testament to the power of community spirit.
Every Thursday afternoon, the Hedon Methodist Church transformed into a hub of warmth, laughter, and friendship. The meeting began with light-hearted jokes and contagious giggles, setting a heartwarming tone for the day. In the midst of this joyful atmosphere, the group members came together to celebrate not just their shared experiences, but their shared humanity.
At the core of The Junction's story were two incredible individuals, Geoff, and Jenny. Geoff was the driving force behind the group's inception, and Jenny, his dedicated deputy, took care of the tea and cakes that added a sweet touch to the gatherings. They recognised the profound impact that this community had on its members, offering a lifeline to those experiencing loneliness and isolation.
The group's activities were as diverse as the smiles that filled the room. Art and craft sessions saw everyone participating with enthusiasm, displaying their creative talents. The group had a unique charm that extended far beyond its weekly meetings. This close-knit community of volunteers provided a warm and welcoming environment where everyone was considered family. They offered hot and cold drinks and freshly baked cakes, and provided a weekly program of activities, including invited speakers, singing, crafts, games, quizzes, and more.
The impact of this extraordinary group is truly inspirational. Over the years, The Junction has grown from a dozen attendees to a remarkable 60 people. Its reputation spread through word of mouth and referrals from various professionals who recognised the vital role this group played in the community. It was not about coffee and cake; it was about creating new friendships, uplifting conversations, and shared memories.
One touching example of The Junction's impact is a heartfelt poem written by a 90-year-old gentleman, who described it as a "happy room." His words resonated with the entire community, capturing the essence of what The Junction means to them. Another 90-year-old lady's gratitude was so immense that she treated the entire volunteer team to a lunch, a small gesture that spoke volumes about the bonds that had formed.
The most beautiful aspect of The Junction is the volunteers themselves. Some had started as attendees, captivated by the warmth and camaraderie, and felt compelled to give back. They were dedicated to bringing joy and connection to those who often spent too much time alone. To them, this is more than volunteering; it is a profound way to enrich their lives and give back to the community that has become their extended family.
At one of the meetings, I witnessed an engaging art and craft session. Every member participated with unwavering devotion, their creativity shining through as they painted, sculpted, and crafted their way to happiness.
Norman, the group's resident poet, was unable to join on that particular day due to the rain. However, his brilliant poem, hanging proudly on the wall, spoke to the very heart of The Junction. It encapsulated the essence of every activity and the core values that the group stood for.
The Junction was nominated for the Team Volunteer Award at the Time2Volunteer Awards 2023. The dedication of its members and the group's role as a loving and caring family for all its members, caught the attention of those who recognised the extraordinary impact it had on the community. Unfortunately, the Group were not shortlisted due to the sheer amount and quality in that category, but within the nomination, Norman’s poem was included. This creativity and compassion stood out to the event organisers, and they requested that it be included in the event in some way.
The Junction were offered two complimentary tickets to the Awards, but it was on a Thursday afternoon: the same day as their Group, and Norman chose the group, rightly so, over travelling out to Hull to the Awards. Other volunteers were unable to make it, but the poem was proudly read aloud by HEY Smile Foundation’s Chair, Trish Dalby, to around 300 people. This added a real-life heartwarming element to the celebratory volunteer event.
The story of The Junction Community Group at Hedon Methodist Church is one of inspiration and motivation. It shows that even in the smallest corners of the world, there could be a space for kindness, support, and love. It proves that a community, when bound by compassion, can create an environment where laughter fills the room, tears of joy are shed, and bonds grow stronger every day. The Junction is a reminder that no one should ever feel alone, because, in the warmth of community, they can find a family and a home.
Do you have a community story to share?
There's so much amazing work going on across the East Riding organised by amazing grassroots volunteer-led groups It's important to spread the word about the brilliant things going on in our communities to inspire others to do the same and to celebrate how special these groups are to the communities that they support.
If you do have a story, Abi would love to meet you. To contact Abi, send through an email to: firstname.lastname@example.org