Month: March 2018

Fancy a Trip Underground?

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Some beautiful and unusual buildings and land are in community ownership.

A growing number of groups are getting together to rescue much-loved places from redevelopment or demolition – from castles and piers to public toilets.

Could your community take ownership of a local space? To inspire you, over the next few weeks we would like to share with you some of these. First up, The Burrow, Devon. 

The Burrow in Exbourne is a community-owned shop with a difference – it’s underground. Like something from The Hobbit, this little shop, café and post office is built underneath a field in the centre of the village, and is the UK’s only underground shop.

In December 2001 the village shop and post office in the parish of Exbourne with Jacobstowe in rural West Devon closed and was sold as a private dwelling. This meant that villagers would have to make a journey of at least 5 miles each way to reach the nearest town for shops and services.

Early in 2002 following a public meeting to discuss the closure of the community’s only store and post office, the Exbourne Community Initiative Committee was formed. The original mandate of the organisation was to try and re-establish a shop – a community-run shop – possibly with additional facilities alongside it. The great importance of such activities in safeguarding the quality of village life was keenly recognised and the initiative was supported by the vast majority of local residents.

The Association quickly established a temporary shop, cafe and post office in Exbourne’s Village Hall, opening 2 mornings a week and run (with the exception of the Post Office section) by volunteers.

The shop has grown and grown and with the support of local growers, plus a lot of hard work, they have managed to get together an exciting range of products, from fresh vegetables, canned food and even some hardware items. Each shop day freshly baked bread is locally sourced.

One of the most popular features of our current shop in the Village Hall is the café, where local residents and visitors can gather to swap stories and exchange gossip.
The success of the temporary shop/cafe allowed plans to move forward establishing The Burrow. The project raised over £185,000 allowing digging on the underground shop to begin. Upon successful completion the shop/cafe and post office moved underground. Formally opened in 2012, The Burrow continues to flourish and expand its role within the community.
Fancy a trip underground? Visit The burrow at


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A profound shift in attitudes is underway all over the world. People are now recognising that ‘progress’ should be about increasing human happiness and wellbeing, not just growing the economy.

March 20 has been established as the annual International Day of Happiness and all 193 United Nations member states have adopted a resolution calling for happiness to be given greater priority.

In 2011, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which recognised happiness as a “fundamental human goal” and called for “a more inclusive, equitable and balanced approach to economic growth that promotes the happiness and well-being of all peoples”.

In 2012 the first ever UN conference on Happiness took place and the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution which decreed that the International Day of Happiness would be observed every year on 20 March. It was celebrated for the first time in 2013.

In 2017, the Smurfs joined the UN in celebrating the International Day of Happiness as well as the 17 Sustainable Development Goals – #SmallSmurfsBigGoals

The details of 2018 celebrations have not yet been announced, but whatever you have planned for the day, be happy!

How do you Communicate with your Community?

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It is only 2 or 3 decades since communication was done by telephone, mail or face to face and all documents were stored in paper or hard copy files. Today the internet and associated devices such as computers, laptops, tablets, mobile devices, etc, are seen as a necessity rather than a luxury.

Since the baseline year of 2007, the percentage of adults using the internet for personal use in Scotland has increased from 62.7% to 83.4% in 2016. The use of the internet (for personal use) is however strongly linked to age. In 2016, 99.1% of 16-24 year olds used the internet for personal use, compared to 71.6% of 60-74 year olds and approximately a third of people aged 75 and older. Adults with a physical or mental health condition lasting or expected to last more than 12 months are less likely to use the internet for personal use. Almost seven out of ten adults with such a longstanding health condition use the internet for personal use, compared to nine out of ten among the rest of the population. (Source: Scottish Household Survey 2017)

Within the UK of those without internet access, 64% felt they didn’t need the internet as it was regarded as not useful or interesting. A further 20% felt they lacked skills and 12% reported that they had access to the internet elsewhere. (Source:ONS: Internet access – households and individuals: 2017)

There are therefore sections of our population who either do not have or choose not to have digital access. Coupled with the fact that our use of technology is still evolving making it harder for sections of our communities to keep apace with the changes. For example, in social media Facebook, which only emerged 14 years ago is now being abandoned, by young people, for its little sister, Instagram. Reflecting the mobile engagement of the times. Figures from Nielsen Book Research UK survey of 2016 reveal that e-book sales are falling while sales of paper books are growing – and the shift is being driven by younger generations.

The advent of new technologies has changed how we interact, how we communicate and some of our reading habits. Within communities we need to inform and communicate with people both in digital and non-digital formats in order to reach all sectors. What do you find are the best means of communications with your communities? Share your ideas of what works. for you.