It is not something you expect a County Council to consider.
The idea first arose when we saw Nellie the pink tuk-tuk for sale locally. Half-joking, the conversation went along the lines of ‘people are always telling us how hard it is to get around Soham, could Nellie be the answer?’, ‘maybe, I can see her whizzing round Soham picking people up, it would certainly be different’
Then we mentioned the idea at one of our Wednesday Drop In’s and it didn’t seem so daft after all, ‘I know Violet and John struggle to get to the Monday Club’… ‘I’d be able to get to the Doctors’ … ‘I reckon Dave would love to drive it’ and so the idea grew legs. May and Joyce, a couple of the older attendees at our Drop In came to give Nellie a trial run, and found her accessible and fun.
We started talking to community partners.
Viva, our local Arts and Community Group jumped at the idea, they immediately saw potential for Nellie to pick up people to attend their performances, and advertising their upcoming shows. They put their hands up to become Nellie’s owners and helped us to make a promotional film.
Soham also has a fledgling Men’s Shed who spotted an opportunity – some of their budding ‘Shedders’ aren’t so keen on making stuff, and the idea of joining as a volunteer tuk-tuk driver appealed. They offered to coordinate volunteer drivers.
Here at Neighbourhood Cares, we feel well connected to the community and well placed to spread the word. And so a partnership was born and we launched our #Nellie4Soham Crowdfunding campaign.
We were blown away by the response. Joyce, enthused by her test run experience asked the Co-op to take a collection pot. Dawn, Scheme Manager with the local Housing Association came in on her day off to do a Roast for Nellie, not only raising over £400, but also bringing older local residents together to spend time with their neighbours.
The local Craft group started spontaneously giving us the most amazing crafts to sell for Nellie, inspired we have started a pop-up Craft and Tombola around town.
We’re lucky to be the hosts of Soham’s Community Lunch where a range of partners; schools, churches, community groups, health colleagues and more come together to connect and collaborate. We were scratching our heads for a finale and they came up with a corker – The Great Nellie Push! A sponsored Team Nellie will come together to push Nellie through Soham whilst leading the Carnival parade.
To some extent, Nellie has come to represent how this community responds to challenge and opportunity, and how we at Neighbourhood Cares can be led by Soham to do the right thing.
As I type, we’re half way to our goal of £4,000 and we have a few weeks to go. You can follow our campaign by Liking our Neighbourhood Cares Soham Facebook Page.
Alongside this brilliant community we plan to Paint, Knit and Push our way to buying #Nellie4Soham. We believe we’ll make it.