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One Newcastle street in particular really showed the meaning of community spirit and didn’t let the pandemic get in the way of forming friendships and support networks

Residents of Dewley Road hit upon some novel ways to keep spirits high in the face of great uncertainty, while following government restrictions. It proved to be a lifeline for many in their community, as well as  a fantastic way to raise much needed funds for St Oswald’s Hospice.

During the warm evenings of the 2020 spring months, the Dewley Road residents started hosting weekly ‘socially-distanced garden parties’ in their street, displaying bunting, playing music and holding raffles and tombolas. After a rather hit-and-miss karaoke session, they decided bingo and quizzes were the way to get people together. Afternoon Tea’s and playing everyone’s favourite tunes got everyone in the mood and kept morale high.

The residents then had the idea of themed events including VE Day, 60’s, 70’s’ and 80’s, tying in the quiz and encouraging fancy dress, with something for every age group.

The fundraising element of their garden parties was initiated by Kieran Wilkinson, who had previously volunteered at St Oswald’s Hospice. Kieran said:

“This was a great way to bring everyone together, all at the same time as raising money for a local charity close to the hearts of many of my neighbours. We all know of someone who is in need of care from an organisation like St Oswald’s. We had a blast in the process and it was a pleasure to help other people at the same time”

Because these parties brought such cheer to the neighbourhood, they continued to host them into 2021 too. They even created a name for themselves, ‘Drunk Tank,’ to represent the social aspect of their gatherings. On days where the weather wasn’t so good, they embraced the virtual world of Zoom and held quiz and bingo evenings instead, whilst continuing their efforts to raise more funds for our patients and their families.

In total, ‘Drunk Tank’ raised £1,630 for St Oswald’s Hospice, thanks to their determination to stay connected with their neighbours. This just shows the power of community and is a huge amount of money which we are truly grateful for.

Danielle Harvey, Community & Events Fundraising Manager, visited them during their One Year Anniversary celebration. She said:

“Kieran and neighbours of Dewley Road are the definition of community spirit. AT their celebration event, it was lovely to see them sitting out on their driveways with picnics and drinks, just generally having a jolly time. We have loved seeing communities come together over the pandemic, and it’s incredible that they have used these events to support their local charities too.

“Our own hospice community fundraising has taken a huge hit due to the pandemic, so having people like the Dewley Road crew taking on the challenge on our behalf is glorious to see. Their fundraising efforts  truly are a lifeline to our patients and their families during difficult times and its thanks to support like this that we can keep providing specialist care for those that need it.”