By Abi Chapman, founder of The Accessibility Project
After launching it in Southwark, I officially bought The Accessibility Project to Oxted at the start of 2022. Finally we were home, in the place I had been born and raised in, and as part of the community I am so passionate about. With that came a higher level of responsibility to make a positive impact. The stakes are high wherever you work, but they are higher in a community you know and love.
In December 2022, after one event in particular, I found time to reflect, and I realised that the project had grown, connected and partnered with so many, in so many different ways: it was a humbling moment. Throughout the year, we provided support to Ukrainian refugees and their hosts, ran one-off community sessions, supported the Community Fridge, which is run by St John’s Church in Hurst Green, and also collaborated with them to launch a community hub!
Towards the end of 2022, it was noticeable just how many people were apprehensive about Christmas approaching, and we decided to launch the Community Christmas Giveaway, an initiative with the aim of creating 100 gift bags to hand out. So, how were we going to achieve this? Simply through the good-will of others. I was overwhelmed by the response from our community: we received over ten large moving boxes of donated gifts, as well as financial contributions.
After a call out for volunteers to help us sort, wrap and pack gift-bags, we were finally ready to distribute them the week before Christmas. I say, with pride, that we smashed our target out of the park, creating 217 gift bags, and raising £605! We were able to give Christmas presents to the users of the Community Fridge and the Hub and to their loved ones, as well as to those who were known to be recognised in need.
None of this would have been possible without everybody coming together, nor without the immense support given to us by our local church, St John the Evangelist.
We hope to turn this one-off event into some form of tradition, and we are looking forward to the new year ahead: there is so much more to come!
If you want to get involved in The Accessibility Project in any shape or form, from volunteering, supporting the running of it, and more, please get in touch:
(Above: Donations received for the Community Christmas Giveaway)