I’ll start with a bit about the beginning of our love affair with Cleveleys…
Like many people, we bought what was originally a holiday home. It got harder to go back to our then full time home, and eventually we worked out a way to live here – moving our life and business – lock, stock and barrel.
It was learning about the local area which got me involved in the local community in the first place, and as is well documented, Visit Cleveleys was our first website and originally just an ‘itch we wanted to scratch’. We’d got the skills to build a website so we did – never dreaming that it would lead to this.
I love living here. I love the sense of community that there is, and how people generally speaking are nice and will pull together. The restoration of the clock shelter, and the groundswell of support to keep the cheese shop open last year proved that point.
I love all of the Fylde Coast and I feel lucky to be able to go to buzzy, bright Blackpool and feel like I’m 8 years old and on holiday. By contrast I love being able to go on the beach and walk in absolute solitude, with only the cry of the gulls for company.
But I live at Cleveleys, so I must confess it has to be my ‘favourite child’, and I want to play my part in making it great. After all, that’s why we started all this Visit Cleveleys nonsense in the first place!
The Next Project
After the success of the clock shelter, I’ve been racking my brains wondering what to do next. What you probably don’t know and need to understand is that I have no spare time at all – between paid work and my own voluntary activities, I literally work all the time, so much as I would like to breeze about talking to people and engendering community spirit, I just don’t have the time. You probably don’t either – we’re all busy with jobs, families, kids etc. So whatever I try to create, whatever I ask you to get involved with, needs to be easy but effective, and open for everyone to feel involved, and part of a team.
Virtual Community Group
To me, that means working together using the internet for open communication ‘virtual volunteering or a virtual community group’ you could call it. Each doing our own acts of kindness, talking to one another in real-life, sharing the enthusiasm, and anything that we physically ‘do’ is not demanding of time, and not requiring any commitment or attending meetings, just your quick, kind actions, thought and consideration. To me, it’s not about having regular meetings that you’re expected to come to, or regular volunteering that you’re expected to do – that’s great and there’s certainly a place for it – but it doesn’t, can’t, include everyone.
Responsibility for your own Patch
When my mum (Chrissie Blogger) was young, people looked after where they lived themselves. The local councils didn’t do everything for everybody and so it was normal to roll your sleeves up and go and sort out whatever needed sorting out. Now, today, people feel like they shouldn’t take community action. They worry that everyone will look at them, that they’ll feel silly. Let’s take that control and responsibility back, and each of us do our own little bit to make Cleveleys a place and a community to be proud of!
And another thing, while I’m on my soapbox. I know that there are many, many people who come to Cleveleys regularly. Although we don’t depend on tourism like Blackpool does, the people who come here to spend their money are certainly very important to our local economy. By and large visitors are always made very welcome, but there’s no reason why people who visit can’t feel like they also have a stake in the place and are able to join in with something like this and playa part in looking after a place which they love.
‘Live here or visit, we love it’ is our slogan, and that’s what it means. It means local people, visitors, shop keepers, businesses – all have a stake in how good or bad the place is, and how between us we make it even better.
The clock shelter in Cleveleys. Restored and the clocks replaced in 2014 by the local community, led by Visit Cleveleys