Together with my husband and kids I’ve been living in the Old Trafford part of Manchester for years. We’ve built some great friendships in the area, with people who like us want to make a difference. Our community is a really great place to be, but has a lot of needs to. That gives us lots of opportunities to be involved.
A friend, also passionate about community-building, came across Common Change and suggested that we form a group. From the initial few that started it the group has grown over 3 or 4 years and now has about 15 members. It’s become a helpful way of keeping us all connected and the commitment to giving provides an outward focus towards our community. Because we’re all committed to our community for the long term our Common Change group isn’t just some kind of one-off crowd funding exercise – it makes a difference because its so relational.
Any of us from within the group can make requests to share gifts from our fund, and often do. There are a few recent ones that stand out for me…
One was a lady that I had got to know at the local wellbeing centre – she volunteered in the café as well as being a full-time carer for her husband. I learned that she had no washing machine and she’d been taking all her washing to the launderette, which was inconvenient and expensive. As a group we were able to find and fund a quality washing machine and get it installed at her home. She was really touched by the gesture and I know it made a big difference to her daily life.
On another occasion we contributed towards the funeral costs for someone in the community whose daughter had passed away tragically. A member of our group had become aware that in the midst of her loss this mother, grieving the loss of their daughter, was struggling to afford a dignified goodbye. Funerals costs can really stack up! We all felt that it was such a privilege to be able to step in and share the burden with her.
I guess that most of the gifts we give from our fund are just really down to earth and practical. Not long ago we got to know of an elderly neighbour who has been hoarding, to the extent that it had become a health hazard. Again, because of our Common Change fund, we could pay for the cost of a skip, and a bunch of us volunteered to help the lady to clear her house.
In all these examples I guess the theme is that we’re not interested in ‘funding criteria’ or anything like that. We are just playing a part in our neighbourhood, and the Common Change fund means we can do that from a place of abundance.