In this post, new Wellbeing Ambassador Lauren Lovatt shares how she has been working to support exploration and engagement with wellbeing in her community, based in the heart of Gloucestershire.
Wellbeing is a word that can get used a lot in our lives nowadays. We hear some policy-makers emphasising the need for wellbeing, we see it written into agendas in public heath, our children take lessons in mindfulness intended to support their wellbeing, and we read newspaper headlines about the importance of living in a way that enhances our wellbeing. From eating well, to going outside more, to building stronger community connections, and even just spending time with the ones you love; there seems to be increasing talk about wellbeing in many areas of life.
Amongst all of this positive activity and discussion, I think it is important to engage with the following questions: what is wellbeing, and how does it fit in to our culture and our lives today? And how can we best support wellbeing; our own and that of those around us? Making time to engage with these topics in connection with others has become an increasing focus of mine, and an inspiration for engaging more with the community around me.
Creating a wellbeing community
My desire to engage with wellbeing motivated me to create a series of pop-up events around a wellbeing-related theme. The aim of these events was to bring together a community of people interested in wellbeing, inspire positive thoughts, celebrate life, and create unique, memorable experiences. This sense of joy, to me, is an expression of wellbeing. The events were held at Matara, which is a social enterprise, based in Gloucestershire in the UK, that is committed to practicing, sharing, developing and enjoying a wellbeing lifestyle.
Together with my colleagues at Matara, we decided it was important to start a conversation about wellbeing as a positive first step towards deeper engagement. Through our pop-up events we have been aiming to inspire people to ask questions and engage in wellbeing, whatever this concept may mean to them.
Each event was themed to provide an initial icebreaker, and those who came were invited to dress up, let their hair down and embrace something a little bit different. The themes were inspired by the different charities we partnered with for each of the events, which in turn set the tone for the music, food and entertainment. We tried to incorporate a charity element into the events so that participants felt positive about raising money for a good cause (and giving can be a great way to improve wellbeing). We mainly chose to focus on food-related charities as event partners, since we see food as such a central theme for wellbeing.
A brilliant series of events
The first event was a Caribbean Feast in aid of Rory's Well, a local charity currently focusing on the Ebola appeal - providing sanitation to those suffering in Sierra Leone.
At the first event, we started with lively tunes from Penache, a steel drum band, who involved the guests in a steel drum lesson. We then sat down to dinner, sharing traditional Caribbean food. We went on to engage in a talk about the charity, hold an auction and we even finished the evening with a limbo!
Through our fundraising efforts, we were able to buy 72 bags of rice. One bag of rice costs 150,000 Leones (£21.00) and will be approximately enough to feed a village for a month - which will make a huge impact to those living in hunger and suffering.
Our second event was in partnership with Asparagasm - the vegan fine dining club founded by the wonderful Kate Lewis of The Royal Oak Tetbury. This laid back event was in aid of Action Against Hunger and their “love food, give food” campaign, which is helping to alleviate child hunger.
At this second pop-up event the mellow tunes of Samswara Sitar & Talba Duo set the tone for a chilled evening. We launched the Asparagasm beer created by Kate alongside Stroud brewery, we played with glitter face paint, and we tucked in to a fragrant Indian mezze.
This event drew guests from far and wide and the laidback vibes encouraged those who joined us to really get stuck in, share great conversations and leave their daily concerns behind.
Our Pop up Finale supported #NoChildHungryGloucestershire; a local campaign created by Rob Rees and the Wiggly Worm Charity, which works to help people do better in their own lives through connecting with food, and also providing nutritious meals to those going hungry across the county.
The aim of the evening was to inform and engage our guests on the wonders of waste reduction, enjoy local music and a good conversation with our friend Rob Rees, and learn about his incredible work. Overall, the evening provided a fantastic climax to a really brilliant series of events!
A new attitude to wellbeing
Throughout all of these pop-up events, we observed and discussed many different attitudes to wellbeing, and I was thrilled to see that people really engaged in what was going on, and explored their own wellbeing as a result. They shared conversation and food with those around them, they took notice of the wider world through supporting the charities, they often learned new skills and were active in joining in with the growing community here at Matara.
Like the Network of Wellbeing says, wellbeing means healthier people, happier communities and a sustainable planet. One little step can make a big difference. Just embracing a new attitude can go a long way in making a positive impression on yourself and others.
If we can each do our part in practicing, sharing and enjoying wellbeing it can go a long way. This series of pop-up events marks the start of something special here at Matara as we evolve our social enterprise. We are committed to practicing, sharing and evolving a wellbeing lifestyle.
When we come together as a group, with a common purpose, we create an amazing collective energy. Together, we can bring about real transformation for ourselves, our community, and our country, and, as momentum gathers, for the world. We are looking forward to the future with excitement, and hope you will join us in co-creating a wellbeing world.
“Sing like no one’s listening, love like you’ve never been hurt, dance like nobody’s watching, and live like it’s heaven on earth.” - Mark Twain