Four inspirational community projects

Discover the community projects coming together to create change

Marcus Webb – Virgin Money Living Mentor

by Marcus Webb | Independent Money Mentor

Editor of Delayed Gratification and independent journalist

It’s easy to feel disheartened when thinking about all that’s wrong with the world. But we are not powerless. Generating positive change is possible – and it’s far easier when like-minded people come together with a collective desire to make things better. Whether it’s about local issues or global problems, these four inspirational community projects have proven that by coming together we can make a difference…

1. Get fit, do good

Apart from some burned calories, running on a treadmill isn’t very rewarding. The route is boring, the scenery is predictable, and you end up where you started. So, a lot of people are now choosing to do something truly rewarding by joining GoodGym, which doesn’t merely offer varied running experiences but also a range of volunteering missions. Accompanied by a GoodGym trainer, you and your group might run to a park to plant trees, a community allotment to clear land or the home of an isolated older person to help them with the gardening. GoodGym is already up and running, if you’ll excuse the obvious pun, across 39 areas of the UK, with 74 more regions on the way. Best of all, it’s totally free – although you’re encouraged to donate to its charity too. 

2. Community art hits the streets

The Iwaya Community Art Festival gives ‘street art’ a whole new meaning. This annual festival transforms public spaces in Lagos, the biggest city in Nigeria, with exciting and unexpected public art events. An eclectic group of artists from around the world gathers each year to produce works on a theme chosen by the organisers, who can be counted on to find some super-cool alternative and abandoned spaces to display them in. By bringing art to the community rather than hiding it within the walls of the usual white cubes, this festival engages Nigerians who never usually set foot in galleries.

3. Waste not, want not

Imagine a joyous communal feast for 5,000 people using food that would have otherwise been discarded. That's how Feedback Global engage local communities worldwide in their Feeding the 5,000 events, where they turn the spotlight onto the problem of food waste and rally a coalition of organisations and neighbourhoods into tackling the issue collectively. They are also the people behind the Gleaning Network, which organises teams of volunteers to save thousands of tonnes of food from farms that would otherwise be wasted due to its imperfections – and donate it to food redistribution charities. 

4. See change

Be My Eyes proves the power of online communities by helping people to see. This app-and-smartphone combo originated in Denmark and today it has united half a million volunteers around the world to help the blind and visually impaired to solve daily challenges. Users connect via a free app, through which sighted volunteers can live-stream video from the camera on their smartphone and help them with tasks ranging from finding lost keys or reading a text to describing an unfamiliar location. Volunteers are available worldwide and around the clock, with 90 languages spoken. 

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