Newington Green Meeting House: Revolutionary Ideas - project update
It was very disappointing not be able to re-open the Meeting House in April and enjoy the celebrations and programme planned and developed for such a long time. The team have still been working hard in the face of adversity on the project, here is an update on progress and amended plans for the Newington Green and New Unity communities, and our partners and supporters.
Easter should have seen the re-opening of the Meeting House building, open to the public three days a week and then moving to four when we had enough volunteers to safely perform meet and greet roles to welcome people in. When entering you would be able to see the marvellous restoration, fantastic new plaque to Mary Wollstonecraft and the new signage around the building with bold graphics and images, sharing our fantastic radical history. Audio guides would be on hand to take you around the site and you could hear from Richard Price himself!* With a fully accessible site, we would have been able to use all our spaces to create and host a fantastic programme of events, activities, workshops and talks all reflecting and sharing our heritage for the local communities of Hackney and Islington as well as create income from external hire. Lastly, a primary schools week based on ‘Changing the World’ would have taken place with over 300 local school children attending the Meeting House to learn about how this area has always been home to people who fight for change.
All of this, and more, will still happen but has been postponed until at least Autumn 2020 in the hope that then we can open safely for the public, following government guidance. The team are busy planning already to make this a success as a lot work was not able to be completed before the lockdown, and in the coming months there will be opportunities for volunteers to help by undertake training and preparation for the Meet and Greet roles we need to open the building to the public.
Until then we are very busy trying to engage the community with our story digitally, and meeting the needs of the community which might be different to what we initially planned for the project. We believe that community needs come first, and we are working very closely with New Unity’s core work, Newington Green Alliance, Daymer and Mini Kardes as well as many other local community organisations to ensure we are supporting and helping the community in this difficult time. Some of the things we are delivering this month are weekly ‘tea&talk’ informal English practise for the Turkish and Kurdish community with Mini Kardes, as well as supporting their staff and users to learn more about the British education system. There are also some fantastic online exhibitions that we are working on that highlight the people that have driven positive change from different cultures in our community historically. We have also had huge success in the way we celebrated Mary Wollstonecraft’s birthday online this year which saw a huge increase in engagement through the children’s resources, anthologies, virtual tours and theatrical performances we worked with a network of activist and academic contacts to make happen. Shortly a small sample of the Meeting House’s archive will be available on the website with digitised images for you to explore thanks to the tireless efforts of volunteers who spent a lot of time this winter in Hackney Archives! Another success are the fantastic new digital volunteers we have starting this week who are writing blogs and helping us maintain the website and social media channels – thank you, and welcome! Launching a project in which a building is integral, without access to a building, is hard. We are reliant on our website and social media channels for the majority of our communications. We also didn’t have the opportunity to market the project before the pandemic – and have to rely on digital means of marketing for now rather than the much more varied marketing plan that we had hoped to fulfill.
If you would like to know more about the project, what we were supposed to be doing at this point in time and what we are planning – you can join this online session where we will be discussing it with a variety of heritage organisations: https://bit.ly/2WrGAHE
If you have any questions or suggestions, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
*Or a very convincing impression at least