This week, Ipswich Community Media was paid a visit by the High Sheriff of Suffolk, Edward Creasy. Edward and his wife Penny came to view ICM’s premises, meet the staff and volunteers, and find out about all of the wonderful things we have to offer at South Street.
The Sheriff was met with a warm welcome at our newly renovated reception area and was then given a tour of South Street Studios, which is also home to several of our partners – Out Loud Music, Punch Studios and Future Female Society. This included viewing all of our state of the art recording facilities and the on-site live music venue, The Smokehouse. The Sheriff was also given a tour of a new community venture The Hive on nearby Norwich Road, which ICM is proud to support. The Sheriff was also introduced to one of ICM’s major projects – IO Radio, by Station Manager, Ben Scarlett. IO is a local radio station which offers free training courses to young people in radio production. The Sheriff was then given a demonstration of IO Radio from one of our volunteers, Kurtis Lacey, who was recording a show in Studio 3. The Sheriff also met with one of ICM’s Trustees, Curtis Blanc from Radical Lounge, who spoke about the importance of volunteering and how volunteering with ICM helped change the course of his life. It was through the personal growth he developed whilst volunteering with ICM that directly led him to start his own music business. Curtis also recited a very profound and moving poem which touched upon some of the issues he faced whilst in prison. The purpose of the visit was to discuss the work ICM has carried out throughout the past 18 months, which saw the staff, volunteers and learners navigate a world of uncertainty as the effects of the Covid 19 pandemic hit. These changes led to inevitable organisational shifts as a result of having to work and study remotely. The High Sheriff also awarded ICM with The Suffolk Award ‘in recognition of outstanding service to the community in Suffolk during the Covid-19 pandemic.’
Despite the challenges, having community at the heart of the organisation remained more important than ever, and although the organisation had to separate physically, ICM endeavoured to continue to offer their classes and music projects online to those within the community. This undeniably helped restore a sense of connection, which was a lifeline for many during the months of isolation. However, continuing classes online was no mean feat. The main obstacle being accessibility – as not everyone had access to the internet at home. Therefore, ICM used their funding to source over 80 tablets and even paid for data for some learners. This allowed us to supply our beneficiaries with the ability to access our resources remotely, enabling us to continue to offer our projects which included Making Waves and New Gen, which are run in partnership with Out Loud Music. As well as more than a dozen English classes each week to over 120 learners. In fact, when the Sheriff learned about the ESOL side of ICM he also gave awards to Monika, one of ICM’s very own Community Champions – now also a trustee of a new local community venture The Hive, and to Linda Vines, ICM’s lead ESOL Tutor. Both Monika and Linda were recognised for their support to their communities during the pandemic. Following the visit, the Sheriff said “Thank you for all the wonderful work you are doing. The pure energy and enthusiasm which pulses through ICM, combined with the huge variety of services that you provide can’t fail to make a difference.”