Welland, bringing some joy to Elland
Welland – bringing some joy to Elland…
I moved to Elland in 2015, excited about making the move back t’North and establishing roots here. My uni days were spent at Bretton Hall in the Yorkshire Sculpture Park and after nearly 10 years away from Yorkshire I decided it was time to go back and make a home there! West Yorkshire, and particularly Calderdale, are some of my favourite places in the country; full of beautiful countryside, friendly people, amazing independently-owned businesses, and just a rather lovely place to live!
Since then I’ve got to know and explore the community of Elland, meeting some of the amazing businesses here, making friends, and establishing my work here too. However, it’s clear that this town has had a really hard time – the closure of the banks, shops and services closing down, and people living in hardship, has led to a feeling of negativity and lack of motivation amongst the community. Last week, a few people were telling me that they believe Elland doesn’t have anything to offer anymore and they can’t see how this town will ever improve or get back what it has lost. There seems to be a feeling that Elland is forgotten, with investment being focused on surrounding towns and other parts of Calderdale, whilst this community struggles on.
I can see where they are coming from and I too agree that Elland has really suffered and there may be a long way to go to help reinvigorate this community. However, I strongly believe that the only way that improvement can happen is if people join forces and take action to do something about it. Times like these require positivity and teamwork to inspire, motivate, and bring people together to make change.
I’ve recently met some incredibly inspiring people in the town who are taking action to help Elland grow again. Once I started talking to people I began to find out about so many amazing opportunities currently on offer in Elland. For example, there are all sorts of groups and activities, such as chit chat groups for older people, cycling and sporting activities for young people and their families, and arts and crafts activities, alongside professional services, a travel agent, delicatessen, care agency, and many others!
One of the problems seems to be getting the word out about these wonderful opportunities - helping people to see that Elland does have some really positive activity happening and it actually needs help from the local community to make sure these don’t disappear too and to inspire new activity and development for the town.
So, I decided I could take some action too, using my skills and expertise to play my part in helping our town. I run a small not for profit organisation, Curel CIC, which is based at Wainwright Hall and specialises in movement-based activities to enhance quality of life, from classes focusing on stretching and relaxation, to dance classes for older people. We exist to bring communities together and help people live well for longer.
I got chatting to a local theatre company, CHOL Theatre, who are based in Huddersfield but have lots of connections in Calderdale, and they suggested we think about running a festival of health and wellbeing for Elland. The second they said it, I thought ‘Yes! Why not try it!?’ So ‘Welland: A Festival of Joy’ was born (see what we did there with the name - Welland? All credit to CHOL for that!).
Welland is Calderdale’s first festival dedicated to health and wellbeing and it’s happening in Elland on Saturday 16th June!
Focusing specifically on bringing the community together to enhance wellbeing and quality of life, Welland is a brand-new opportunity for this town to find out about local activities, get involved and experience a day of joy!
This year’s festival is a pilot project, and we really hope that we can establish it to become a long-term annual event, as seen in lots of other local towns, and help Elland become recognised for positive, inspiring, and inclusive activity that enables people to have a greater sense of wellbeing and quality of life.
We have brought together lots of the different organisations, artists, and practitioners to provide free workshops and activities for anyone and everyone to get involved in. We’ve got dance, drama, drumming, Taekwon-Do, arts and crafts, performances, and lots of other activities happening at Wainwright Hall and in the town centre.
I have specifically focused on including opportunities that are either already on offer in our town or are delivered by local professionals from the lower valley, celebrating what our town really has to offer and inspiring the local community and businesses to connect and use this opportunity to grow.
It’s always nerve-wracking starting something new, but I think not doing anything at all is probably worse than trying something. As we get closer to the festival day (as I write this we are three weeks and one day away!) a little bit inside of me gets a little more stressed, but that’s only natural with a brand-new project and I have faith and trust in all of the people involved in the festival that this year is going to be the start of something wonderful for Elland.
Please do join us, come along and spend the day in Elland, try out some of the workshops, enjoy some lovely food in our local cafes, and explore what our town has to offer. All activities are free and it’s open to all ages and abilities.
More information can be found on our website and social media pages:
Welland is funded by the Community Foundation for Calderdale, Elland Ward Forum, and a number of Elland-based businesses.