A chance encounter in Nottingham


John McCallum, East Midlands Near Neighbours Coordinator and Development Officer, shares a touching story about meeting a past grant applicant.

When I am helping new people explore a Near Neighbours application, I try and choose a safe and friendly venue for them to meet me. I often use the New Arts Centre’s café in Nottingham.

I was recently there and as I was about to leave, a confident smiling lady came up to me. She said “Is that you, John? You helped me with an application 2 years ago.” I recognised her face and when she spoke I realised that she was one of the first applicants I had met when Near Neighbours had opened in Nottingham. I remember at the time she was trembling and almost in tears partly because of the trauma she had experienced, and partly because she was so worried about what I might say about her idea to work with vulnerable women.

Her application eventually led to a grant for a very successful project and went on to achieve other activities with women from faith communities.

She continued: “Thank you so much for helping me. As a result, I had the confidence to go to college to study beauty therapy, and I now have a career that I greatly enjoy and life is so much better.” I assured her that it was my privilege to be of some small help. I also reminded her that she was the real hero in all that she had done to help others and make change in her own life.

I felt quite humbled by this chance encounter, and at the same time proud of what Near Neighbours had achieved in simply offering someone the opportunity to realise their vision for their community. I look forward to helping more people contribute to their community in such a way.