Storytelling at the heart of the Scottish BordersSeptember 21, 2021
CoastlandsMarch 20, 2022
As I look back on 2021 and wonder what 2022 will bring, I start to wonder when the unprecedented becomes precedented. Looking forward is difficult just now with so much uncertainty in our lives. Planning is hard and I have started to see the impact of this in the projects I support – well thought out plans are torn up over and over again as restrictions come and go. Instead of looking forwards, now is a time to reflect and to challenge ourselves to learn from the past months and years.
2021 has been another year of firsts: first lateral flow tests, first time watching streamed theatre in my own front room and first time we have seen a red squirrel in our garden. I’ve discovered new places, met new challenges, organised Alnwick’s first ever virtual pet show and, most importantly, kept going through all that the year threw at us.
Over the past twelve months I have been privileged to support 23 different projects at 13 organisations; working with them to raise funds, develop, manage and evaluate activities that have continued, in one way or another, throughout the pandemic. Whilst it has been difficult at times with timescales and deadlines changing and changing again as a result of staff furlough, project extensions and the general chaotic nature of working in the pandemic, as ever I have enjoyed the working on such a breadth of projects. I have met new people (and organisations), completed contracts which have been ongoing for a few years and returned to some old favourites – I love this way of working.
Throughout the year, I have encouraged projects to reflect on the decisions they made during the pandemic and ask themselves, ‘would we make the same decision again?’ I think this is always a helpful process and, personally, I really value and enjoy learning from each project I work with and using this experience to inform future projects. Throughout the pandemic I have observed different responses: withdrawal of activities to protect staff, volunteers or participants, activities adapted to continue virtually or in outdoor spaces and completely new ways of working to reach isolated communities or new audiences. There has been so much to learn from the many, many different approaches to project delivery during this turbulent year and I hope that, in 2022, we can all find the time and space to not only reflect on our own activities but also to learn from others.
Looking forward to 2022, I am working on projects which will restore nature in the north of England/Scottish Borders, enable people to access and celebrate their local heritage, traditions and stories and increase cultural activities for young people and others living in rural communities. I am fortunate to work in the way that I do and, although I feel like I am often watching from the sidelines, I have seen so much best practice to take forward into the next year. Whatever the next year brings, we must keep looking back, challenging our decisions, celebrating successes, sharing our learning and promoting best practice so that we can continue to adapt and deliver activities which support our communities and protect the ever changing world that we live in.
Wishing all my clients a happy new year