Message from our CEO, Amy Kinnear

A warm hello at this unusual time.

I started as the Trust’s new CEO last October, and so when this pandemic hit I was just beginning to get to know many of our hundreds of regular weekly visitors to our centres.  I could have never imagined that within a few months I’d only be seeing colleagues over a computer screen and that we would need to change the whole way we run Southmead Development Trust.

It was really emotional to have to close our buildings to the public, along with all the regular events that happen in them – weekly groups at Greenway Centre, our much loved Greenhouse Café, the Greenway Gym, play sessions at The Ranch, and activities at the Youth Centre.  Carefully planned and exciting big events were cancelled with heavy hearts: the Meadows to Meaders performance; the 1970s Southmead party; and the Southmead Festival.

But what we also did, very quickly, was take the firm decision to keep working in any way we still could.  To keep as much open as possible in safe ways and to set up new projects with the community.  It’s a hard time and people are anxious, alone and worried about the future.   What we knew was that it wasn’t a time for the Trust to stop, but a time to step up.

Our teams have been amazing about rising to this challenge, and despite their usual jobs, have done anything and everything that’s needed right now – from running online fitness classes in their own bedrooms, setting up a new food delivery service, to dancing around empty offices making Tiktok videos to entertain residents and raise donations.

We’re so proud to be part of the national and citywide response to the Covid-19 crisis. We can give you support over the phone, match you with a local volunteer, help you join our new online groups, or bring you round a hot meal or activity pack.   Please call us if you’re having difficulties, or you know someone else who is, just leave a message and we’ll be back in touch as soon as possible.

Because a Trust like ours works to help to build community strength, I’ve been worried about the impact the lockdown is having on residents – about how the breakdown of social connections and heightened anxiety might affect the amazing confidence here in Southmead.  Yet, of course, friends and neighbours have looked out for each other and many residents have answered our call here at the Trust to become volunteers.

And despite all the change and things put on hold, the community has received great news – the approval for 120 new homes in Southmead to go ahead.  Our post lock-down future now looks brighter with a chance to ease the local block on affordable housing.

One thing we keep saying here at the Trust is: think about what we still can do – what we still have control over, and not what we can’t do.

We’re still here for everyone.  Please get in touch if you want to get involved in your community right now or if you need any support.   We’re missing you all and can’t wait to see you back at our centres!

With best wishes, Amy Kinnear, May 2020