How are you? I am really glad that you are reading this open letter (though it’s not really a letter it’s a blogpost but calling it an ‘open blogpost’ makes very little sense), but I will be even happier if you are reading it AND you are a tenant in a Housing Association in the UK.
Is that you? Are you the tenant of a Housing Association? Or maybe you are a customer of a Housing Association? Or maybe you are a resident of a Housing Association? They use different words in different places – it can be confusing. Either way, if that is you then that is great and also ‘Hi! I like your shoes. Have you had your hair done?’.
I am the co-founder of The Sunday Assembly which is all the best bits of church, but without the religion, and with awesome pop songs. Think of it as TED-talks, plus karaoke, plus tea and cake, all wrapped up in community. It is the best thing in the world (though I am biased), and I think you’d love it too.
The best way to explain what we do is to explain where we come from….
The Story So Far
About 9 years ago I left a Christmas Carol concert and thought there’s so much about this I love: the singing, the stories, thinking about improving yourself, talking about helping other people and, above all, the community. The big problem was that I don’t believe in God, so there was nowhere like that for me: but how cool would it be if there was? Wouldn’t it be great if there was a community just to celebrate being alive?
Flash forward to October 2011: I was going to a comedy gig in Bath with the wonderful Pippa Evans (we’re both comedians) and it turned out she wanted to something like church, but in a non-religious way, too. And we decided to make it happen (but I was going to Australia in 2012 so we would have to wait a bit).
Cut to January 2013: we held the first Sunday Assembly service in London in a disused church and 200 people turned up! We were stunned. The next time 300 people turned up. And people wrote to us from all over the world saying they wanted their own too. Now there are 67 Sunday Assembly chapters across the world, with thousands more people who want to start their own.
This Is Where You Come In
Why is that of interest to you? Because we have been speaking to a people who work in and around Housing Associations who think that having a Sunday Assembly for their tenants / customers / residents would be a really great way to build supportive, caring local communities.
The Sunday Assembly event leads people to start social gatherings, community support groups and do lots of volunteering. And that’s important because community is on the decline all over the UK. As a result there’s more social isolation and increased mental health disorders, as well as making people’s lives less fulfilled.
Did you know that loneliness could be as bad for your health as smoking? And that 1 in 10 people in the UK have no close friends? That’s pretty serious. Well, we’ve seen that regular attendees of Sunday Assembly have an increased sense of community, increased happiness, and increased life satisfaction.
Having Fun, Doing Good
The great thing is that it is a really fun way to make a big difference. Honestly, spending a Sunday morning singing Queen’s Don’t Stop Me Now, Bon Jovi’s Living On A Prayer, or even Carlie Rae Jepsen’s Call Me Maybe is ridiculously life enhancing.
Then after the Assembly there is always a big gang of people chatting and catching up and it is beautiful to be a part of it. I find it so inspiring to be part of bigger than me, to feel that I’m making a difference, and maybe that appeals to you too.
If you think this sounds good and you’d like a Sunday Assembly where you live then please get in touch. We can then work with your Housing Association to create one with you and for you. Here’s the email you should use – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks so much for your time. I can’t wait to hear from you.
ps. Now, it might be that you work in and around housing and would like to know more about how we would do this, then likewise drop us a line. We want to pilot up to three schemes this year to see how it works – let’s see if we can make that happen!