Informal networking group Likemind is making a difference to communities

AN informal networking group is starting to pay dividends for a group of residents eager to engage with their area in a subtle yet effective manner.

Likemind, which is now in its third month running within the Herald and Gazette area, is part of a global movement aimed at exchanging ideas and ventures which have both personal and community benefit.

As a concept, it’s refreshingly straightforward in taking the form of a monthly meeting over coffee – in this instance at Coast Café at Splash Point in Worthing. Rather than being a mere talking shop, those taking part are hopeful their laid-back meetings will lead to some intriguing collaborations without the pressures of a corporate environment.

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Worthing-based artist and entrepreneur Dan Thompson felt its informality was a real strength.

He said: “I had been to the Brighton Likemind group, but found it expensive going over there regularly, so I thought that Worthing should have one of its own.

“I had found with a lot of networking groups that there was a sense you had to have some kind of agenda with them, but I liked the fact Likemind is not like that.”

Keith Fowler, of community group Worthing Dads (which offers a valuable social outlet to fathers), also praised the initiative.

He said: “This is my first time at this group, though I’ve been involved with Worthing Digital before. But this really is a different kind of networking and quite a wide range of people are here.”

Yoga massage therapist Linzi Horrocks shared his enthusiasm, believing the group was an excellent means of meeting a broad range of people within the area.

Community engagement officer Brian Morgan, of West Sussex County Council, also joined the group for the first time.

He said: “Within half an hour of being there I made some really positive discoveries.”

In addition to starting up the Likemind group, he has been playing an active role in another national initiative, We Will Gather, which attempts to directly harness Twitter as a starting point for encouraging people to create specific community support projects.

This has so far gained an encouraging response, with a number of low-level, yet valuable civic improvement schemes emerging across the country over the past few weeks and months.

Mr Thompson added: “There has already been £100,000 of funding from the Government for its development.

We’ve already managed our first event in which people came together to clean up the front of the old Steyne book shop, it’s only a small thing, but it makes a difference.”

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