Living in a small town is a relatively new thing for me. I’ve spent most of my adult life living in pretty big cities: Manchester, Liverpool, London, Prague, Bath. There have been a few stays in smaller places but I didn’t really start to feel that whole “small town community thing” till I had children.
The government has recently brought out a pamphlet entitled ‘Guidance on building a local sense of belonging‘. It is aimed at local cohesion practitioners and “suggests ways in which councils, voluntary groups and other organisations can encourage a sense of belonging”.
Apparently civic pride is powerful stuff and a sense of belonging and loyalty to your town is one of the key steps to happy living.
Mark Easton quotes Communities Secretary Hazel Blears on his UK blog:
“People who feel that they belong to their local area will get involved with local schemes and initiatives, will help their neighbours, will challenge inappropriate behaviour, will welcome newcomers and help them settle. They will pull together in a crisis and join together in a celebration. All this helps to build cohesive, empowered and active communities.“
This is even more important given our current financial crisis with shops going under and the move from high street shopping to out of town retailers.
Where I live is really important to me. I live in a small rural Wiltshire town called Melksham. You probably won’t have heard of it and it’s unlikely you’d have a reason to go there other than to visit someone. It’s a struggling town but the sense of community is still pretty strong. I am a member of Melksham Climate Friendly Group and active at the toddler group and school my children attend. I like meeting local people and am not much good at “keeping myself to myself”.
Unfortunately Melksham has relatively little local industry and few big local businesses. It’s probably what people would refer to as a satellite or dormitory town. Most people work in neighbouring cities and towns like Bath, Chippenham or Trowbridge. Working from home I am lucky enough to be able to pop into my town on a regular basis. I know quite a few of the shop-keepers and can normally say hello to a number of people on my walk in to the centre and back. This is definitely one of the benefits of being a remote worker.
If more people start to work remotely then maybe this will help smaller towns? It might bring back that sense of community that seems to be slipping. Just because you live in a small town doesn’t mean you have a small town mentality. Us remote workers might even like to meet up for a coffee sometime?
Any other Melksham remote workers out there?