Case Study:Bedminster Community Development
Books have always been a big part of Jo’s life and at 91, she didn’t think it too late to try her hand at writing her own...

About the project:

St Monica Trust’s community development team is helping to empower older people in and around Bristol to make changes in their own communities and lives. The Bedminster project aims to reduce social isolation in older people, as well as to ensure that older people feel able to influence decisions in their community.

A participant story: Jo Hawkins

Books have always been a big part of Jo’s life and at 91, she didn’t think it too late to try her hand at writing her own. Her idea for her book came from hearing someone at the Ashton Silver Social group, an older people’s group, read out a short story from a newspaper. She thought, ‘I can do that’ and subsequently wrote a story which she read out at the group. It went down well so she carried on writing and before she knew it she had a healthy collection of stories. Having had the idea at the Silver Social and given Jo’s huge admiration and appreciation of all the hard work project coordinator, Julie,  puts into the group, it was not a huge leap for her to decide to create a book to sell to raise much-needed funds for the club.

The stories are all set in Ashton Vale and some of the characters are also loosely based on local residents. It’s no wonder that everyone at the club was waiting with baited breath each week for a new story. Jo had to be careful, however, not to name anyone or create too close a likeness in her characters as several in the club may not have been too happy! “I’m not Mrs Nosy Parker” Jo insists to me, “I just like to know what’s going on”.

‘Tales from the Vale’ hit the streets in November 2017. “I wouldn’t have been able to do it without all the help I got” Jo explains and I was far from the only one to help Jo make her book a reality. Another Bedminster couple helped Jo turn her handwritten pages into typed documents and the daughter of another group member did all the illustrations. My assistance involved turning the word processed documents into a publishable format and working with Jo to organise the printing of the books as she wanted. Once printed, many more people helped Jo sell the books around the local area and beyond.

So far Jo has donated £700 to the youth club from her book sales and there may be a little more to come. The money has so far been used to organise trips out for local children from deprived backgrounds, purchase a gazebo for the club and redecorate the youth club.

Asking Jo when the sequel is due, a common question from local residents, she replies that “[She]… can’t be bothered with the hassle!” “I’m well past my sell by date” she modestly states, however, this hasn’t stopped her fundraising efforts as she is now organising a fundraising quiz and afternoon tea at the Youth Club. I have again had the pleasure of being able to support Jo in this latest venture, providing photocopying, producing tickets and helping promote the event through my local networks.

 


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