Jonathan is originally from Belfast and has always been involved in peace and reconciliation projects having lost his dad to the troubles when he was just two years old.
He moved to Shotts four years ago to become the minister of the local Congregational church where he identified some gaps in services and opportunities offered to the local community. Working alongside local charities and organisations he has sought to address the gaps and meet the needs.
He loves to come up with creative ideas to promote the common good and foster community relations, describing himself as a grassroots organiser, community activist and volunteer primary school teacher.
Among the projects, he is involved in are Re-Dress, a clothes bank, Re-Stock, which stocks stationery and the things you might need starting a new school term, and a well-used foodbank. Jonathan works with young people and has helped them to set up their Positivity Café, he is particularly proud that the young people created it themselves.
Jonathan heard about Eden Project Communities Community Camp through The Big Lunch. He wanted the opportunity to learn from others, hear new ideas, and find renewed motivation.
'You leave feeling recharged and really positive. It allows you to think big, and just to be in the company of others is great.'
Jonathan has continued to have contact with other Camp participants and they regularly contact each other on social media where they support and encourage each other. 'The message you leave with is that you are not alone and that there are people out there who want to support each other.'
One of the environmental ideas Jonathan picked up at Camp was to set up a Tool Bank for his community, this allows people to borrow and donate tools to help those starting up in business or those who can’t afford the tools they need for work and importantly, to prevent waste.
The Big Lunch
Jonathan’s community held their first Big Lunch in 2018. This coincided with some difficult times when the community was struggling with youth suicides, so they brought in local rescue and support services to be part of the day.
In 2019 the Big Lunch had all the hallmarks of a community working well together, with outdoor activities, music and a DJ. The event focussed on empowering local people to perform and showcase their skills, and he said:
'We’re lucky to have some great people in Sheltered Housing who came along to share their knowledge and talents.'