Our Silver Rose Award winners 2020, the Creative Communities Group from the United Kingdom, tell us about their endeavours in a candid reportage. Nominated by Professor Romesh Gupta OBE, the group has been awarded in the category "Building Learning Societies", for its outstanding efforts in advancing education and lifelong learning.
The impossibility to hold the Silver Rose ceremony due to the coronavirus crisis, and deliver a merited award to CCG, does not mean their work is on hold. With over 400 members, nationally and internationally, we were privileged to talk to Russell Hogarth and Nigel Farnworth, in representation of the whole CCG:
Can you tell us, in a nutshell, what do you do in CCG?
Nigel: The CCG UK stands for “Creative Communities Group”- and we place a strong emphasis on the word “creative”. That is why CCG members focus on visual and performing arts (including film), great stories and narratives to inspire others to ‘make a difference’ through lifelong learning and teaching. Members raise awareness of important issues and inspire other members and communities to get involved in the common good.
And what is the story behind the group?
Russell: It was formed in 2012, as a catalyst for University and Community partnerships. Its humble beginnings were at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) in Preston, but over the years it has evolved into a model of best practice for active citizenship and lifelong learning on a global level. The CCGUK was run by volunteers, until it became core business at UCLan, and Nigel developed into the first paid CCGUK employed manager in 2015.
We firmly believe in the power of partnerships and how working together can transform communities and educational institutions. Working closely with a local community partner can achieve more than can be done alone, as communities can tap into different knowledge sets to generate and expand new understandings of social problems and situations – they alone, know what needs to be achieved in their own backyard, and the CCG listens, advises and supports worthwhile causes without judgement or agenda.
Is there any work you are particularly proud of, and want to highlight?
Nigel: Our Towards a Better Tomorrow Workshops are designed to inspire participants by promoting and celebrating people who are successful despite perceived obstacles such as disability, mental health issues, poverty, gender, race and sexual discrimination. We are excited by the feedback we get from students! The Last Delivery was at UCLan in January 2020, and we were due to deliver in April... but this has been postponed due to the Covid-19 crisis.
Indeed, so much uncertainty for all your activities... How are you coping with the coronavirus context?
Russell: Sadly, we've had to cancel events, such as this year´s Health Mela, that was due on April 4th. Also, we've had to cancel two “Preston Soup” events this year, one in March and one in June. In these events, for a small donation, attendees receive a bowl of soup and a chance to vote on the community initiative they believe the city will benefit from the most... It's been a while since we delivered it in Preston, so we've secured funding to put on more this year.
Nigel: But thankfully we had a visit before lock-down from our colleagues in Cambodia! As one of our members Lynn Barnett created the first ever fully accredited Counselling Diploma in Cambodia: we brought their students to meet UCLan counselling students, so that they could compare their courses and experiences - this was hugely powerful for all involved!
Another event that we managed to pull off this year, before lock-down was our annual One Billion Rising, held on Valentines Day. This campaign is held across hundreds of countries around the world each year, to heighten awareness of violence against women and young girls mainly, but also worker exploitation, poverty, racism, refugee rights and transphobia... Here you can see us dancing!:
Nigel: And as everyone, the CCG UK is looking at ways it could possibly deliver remotely during this period, mainly by improving its Website - to try and make it more interactive whilst the world is in semi lock-down and continue with our work.
Even if we couldn´t still host you in Brussels to receive the award, can we ask: how do you feel about being a Silver Rose awardee?
Nigel: We understand the postponement of course, and we are grateful – indeed this award has strengthened a working partnership with numerous EU colleagues, and we are proud to say that those relationships will continue beyond the UK-EU withdrawal agreement at the end of 2020.
There is no doubt that creativity is at the heart of this initiative, and as a core value of the CCG group and its members, it will certainly be the driving force for their work in the coming times.
We thank both Russell and Nigel for their kind predisposition and inspiring initiatives they have shared.