Today has been another amazing day. I have been lucky enough to meet loads of really incredible people again! This morning I paid a visit to one of York’s food bank warehouses. I called them yesterday to find out what they needed more of and to see if they minded me coming to see them rather than leaving my donation at a supermarket. (It turns out it’s not so much food but things like toiletries they often get short of!) So while I was at Aldi yesterday I got a few extra bits and bobs for them. My whole shop cost me about 60 quid and this included my own stuff too. I can’t have spent more than 40 quid on top of my shopping but managed to get 4 extra crammed bags full of toiletries and food! Money goes so far in Aldi! The people working at the local bank in New Earswick are all volunteers who were spending their morning sorting through mountains of donations from people and businesses and were all really chatty and happy to be doing an amazing job. They were too shy to pose for a photo but were happy for me to take one of the huge pile of stock they had! It’s lovely to see so many people trying to help those in need.

Food bank

To find out more about it, click HERE!

I know I am really lucky to have the life I do. I’m fortunate to be surrounded by so many amazing friends and family who do awesome stuff all the time. It’s hard to imagine life without them, even worse, if it was just me I’d drive myself even more bonkers than I already do! But I’ve been spending so much time being insanely busy trying to do everything that it had started getting me run down and a bit forgetful, so I’ve been trying to make fewer plans and just relax a bit more. In doing so, however, it’s reminded me that there’s people out there who can’t do a great deal even if they wanted to because they don’t have the money or mobility, or sometimes the motivation to. I wanted to start giving a bit of my spare time, on a regular basis, to people who could really use it so I started looking for something close to home which I could get involved with.

I live round the corner from Rowntree’s chocolate factory. Joseph Rowntree, as well as making Rowntree’s one of the biggest confectioners in the world before Nestle bought it, was also a philanthropist who did a huge amount to improve the quality of life for his staff, including building quality housing and schools near his factory. 90 years after his death and the foundation and trust which he started now offer a huge range of care, support, retirement homes and social housing across Yorkshire and the North East and are dedicated to overcoming social problems, just as Joseph Rowntree was himself. Find out more about this amazing Yorkie here.

A 5 minute walk from my house is a Joseph Rowntree development called New Earswick, where there are lots of elderly residents. There is a local group who arrange events out of the Folk Hall there including a café for local residents called NELLI (New Earswick Less Lonely Initiative). NELLI was set up after a research project into loneliness by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

Here’s the Age UK video which follows on from the famous John Lewis Christmas advert. Warning – It is a tear jerker!

A year ago this group set up a Community Cinema in the local Folk Hall called NELLIvision which started as a great way for local residents to get together, meet, chat and enjoy movies in their own community. There is already a great team working on this, with one incredible and inspiring lady in particular devoting a huge amount of her time to making it work. It turns out they have been in need of a volunteer to get involved with the technical side and to help out with running screenings and acquiring licenses and I am proud to say they have welcomed me into their team!

I genuinely can’t believe I didn’t know this existed so close to home. I love movies, I love people (especially the oldies) and I’ve been in need of something positive that I can really get my teeth into, so this couldn’t have come at a better time for me, or for them, it would seem. It just shows that sometimes the right thing is literally round the corner, you just have to make the time and go look for it. Our next job, to ensure longevity of the project, is to get more people through the door on a regular basis.  We are looking to appeal to a wider audience and hopefully attract people from further afield too. With a giant screen, amazing projector, welcoming bar and extremely cheap prices, I’m hoping that won’t be too difficult. As of January we have changed our name to ‘Film at the Folk Hall’ in order to try and steer away from it being for one particular group of people – If you haven’t already, then it would be great if you could give our Facebook group a ‘like’ or a share so you can keep up with our screenings. If any take your fancy then please come along and show your support – Our website is here.

For the cinema’s first birthday they screened the new Cinderella movie and so many families came along, it was amazing! My beautiful girlfriend, Anna, came dressed as Cinderella and brought presents for all the kids and made the day even more spectacular for everyone. She makes me feel like I can do anything and is a huge inspiration for me!

Getting involved with Film at the Folk Hall has introduced me to some of the awesome staff from Joseph Rowntree. They have just opened a community space called ‘The Open Shop’ in an old post office in the village and their launch night was tonight! They are going to be running a ‘trade school’ there and have been scouring the City for people to come in and run a class on something they enjoy, they don’t have to be an expert, just able to share their knowledge or skills in return for something similar. When I first saw the shop it was just a dusty, empty run down room but by networking with local people and businesses they have turned it into a really lovely little space, ready to fill with the buzz of community spirit and a shared vision of creating something special together.

I have offered to run a beginners DJ class for some of the younger people in the area. Now, I am very much a beginner myself (more on that later in the week!) but I know enough to teach some young people the basics and I’m excited to spend an evening doing something different in my community! Tonight I went for a first meeting at the space to chat to the organisers and other teachers about their classes! I took along some speakers and my amp to lend them so they can plug their phones / iPods in and have music during the sessions. We all did a sort of ‘speed dating’ thing where we had a few minutes chatting to each of the people so we could learn about how we all got involved and what we are each offering. Again, I’ve been blown away by how many people just want to be involved. There are so many people helping this project to get off the ground and they have already filled up 70 sessions of different things including art workshops, furniture repair, storytelling, cookery and so much more! We will definitely be attending lots of them! If this three month trial works then they will be hopefully be looking for a more permanent spot and to roll the project out across their communities!

For further info, have a look at their lovely website – Here!

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