In the summer of 2020, Crediton Town Team approached Crediton Town Council regarding the siting of 12 picnic benches on Crediton Town Square. To celebrate the first easing of restrictions, they were a welcome addition to the town, providing a safe space for people to take a break, meet friends and catch up. The ‘Share in the Square’ initiative was aimed at reducing loneliness and revitalising the town centre.
Building on this, collaborative working between the Town Team, Crediton Arts Centre and the Town Council enabled a schedule of live music on Fridays and Saturdays through the summer.
The impact of such a simple idea surpassed all expectations, lifting the spirits of local residents and visitors, as well as increasing footfall in Crediton’s shops and cafes.
When Christmas 2020 arrived, the Town Council knew that the usual large-scale event could not take place so it was a relief that restrictions allowed for two performances of an adapted Russian folk tale ‘Baba Yaga’ to go ahead.
When speaking about the Christmas 2020 event, Cllr Liz Brookes-Hocking, Chair of the Christmas in Crediton Sub-Committee said, ‘We know how popular the picnic tables and benches have been this summer. They were a Town Team initiative which the Town Council has been keen to support. Now, we are keen to see them back for the winter and spring. We can’t have our usual Christmas lights Switch-on parade but the Arts Centre has come up with an exciting new Christmas in Crediton event for the square. The tables will provide seating for socially distanced audiences at the outdoor performances of Baba Yaga, a new family show for Crediton.’
A second lockdown saw the tables put into storage from January to April, but ‘Share in the Square’ has taken place throughout summer 2021. Coinciding with the Town Council taking ownership of the tables, it contracted The Turning Tides Project to undertake maintenance work within public areas in Crediton, but most importantly Crediton Town Square.
The Turning Tides Project is a non-profit making Community Interest Company that aims to make equal access a reality for people with ‘learning disability’ or ‘autism’ labels, and the partnership demonstrates the valuable contribution that people who are part of The Turning Tides Project can make in the community, when given an equal opportunity.
The Share in the Square initiative has been an opportunity for town organisations and groups to work collaboratively for the good of the Crediton community during a period like no other. Huge thanks must go the volunteers who has made it a success, particularly Rod Brookes-Hocking of Crediton Town Team for initially leading the project, the Rotary Club for providing social distancing stewarding and sanitising in the early weeks and to Jack Robson, Crediton Arts Centre manager for coordinating the event and providing technical support to acts.
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