2020 has proved to be a year of real significance: the global pandemic of Coronavirus has hit our country and many others very hard, creating personal challenges through bereavement, separation and instilling a widespread loss of security and confidence in the sense of normality.
Talk of a “new normality” seems only to emphasise the sense of change and challenges for every one of us and for the communities we belong to. What has also been significant has been the visible rise in community activism, with tremendous work by individuals and groups looking out for the most vulnerable, those in need of a helping hand. And the shocking events in America leading to the awakening of the Black Lives Matter movement, together with the inspiring work of Greta Thunberg in calling for action on Climate Change have helped many more to realise that we are not living in isolation: we cannot hide away in our corner of the world from what is happening to others.
The Bayle has been no exception: those who look out for others will always look outward and see the connection with the wider community. We have been fortunate to have so many good people carrying out ordinary tasks for more vulnerable or isolated neighbours – such as shopping, collecting medication – just having the time for a chat to provide company and reassurance.
The applause of appreciation for NHS staff echoing around The Bayle every Thursday evening for so many weeks expressed our admiration for selfless behaviour and the value we still place on good public service – an old-fashioned phrase with new meaning in 2020. It’s been quite a year.
2020 vision already seems a bit of a blur: much that is good in people, so many challenges ahead.
Fifty years ago, The Bayle Residents Association came into being: despite this backdrop of a very difficult time, we are planning events later this year to mark the occasion and to reflect on our history.
The Association was founded to celebrate our collective good fortune in living here, in a unique and characterful part of Folkestone – and to share that pleasure with each other; not just as a closed community but as one which welcomes visitors and celebrates our connections with generations past and future, neighbours and neighbouring communities.
Community is a concentric circle
The second of the four aims in the constitution states that we will seek “to help generate a closer community within The Bayle, to develop and enhance the community spirit and the quality of life.“
It’s more than just words: it’s a way of life. You could say that ‘community’ is a concentric circle, with actions rippling out from individuals into wider society. As they say, ‘what goes around, comes around’ – that feelgood factor which comes from getting involved and giving something back.
Initiatives such as Green Bayle show that we understand our responsibilities to be aware of waste, of our environment and what we will leave for future generations. The Bayle Residents Action Team (BRAT) has become a good-humoured group of activists, who will not tolerate criminal damage or graffitti inflicted on the built environment which is our heritage. Neighbourhood Watch is our statement of intent and practical push back against anti-social behaviour and criminal activity which would erode our quality of life if left unchecked. We are affected by the changes in society and share many common issues with the areas adjoining The Bayle. More and more BRA is working in wider partnerships, through groups such as AFRA – the Association of Folkestone Residents Associations.
In these different ways, we are responding positively to risk and opportunity.
The Bayle is not an island, but it is a very special area which we cherish and protect; in so doing, it is important to realise that we are affected by what is going on all around us and in our own small way, we will need to contribute to the issues of the day and stand together with other communities.
2020 will undoubtedly be remembered as a milestone in many ways. Let’s make it a great year for the community by remembering our connections both with our history and with the wider world.
Thank you to everyone who contributes to making The Bayle a better place to live and work.
Jon O’Connor, Chair Bayle Residents Association